Thursday Night Movie Club
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In)
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Release Date: October 24, 2008

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Kåre Hedebrant
Lina Leandersson
Per Ragnar
Henrik Dahl
Karin Bergquist
Peter Carlberg
Ika Nord
Mikael Rahm
Karl-Robert Lindgren
Anders T. Peedu
Pale Olofsson
Let the Right One In movie poster Let the Right One In movie poster Let the Right One In movie poster
Lina Leandersson as EliEvery now and then comes a movie that is a pleasant surprise. "Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In)" is a touching yet frightening movie that brings vampires back for another showing on the big screen.

12-year old Oskar is going through a rough time in his life. His family is in shambles. He is picked on by a bunch of bullies at school. He doesn't have any friends and he doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to have one. He has a small hunting knife that he uses on a telephone pole dreaming of revenge on his tormentors.

Into Oskar's life comes a young girl named Eli, who is new to the apartment complex. She is not affected by the cold temperatures. She simply explains she forgot how to feel cold. Neither of them is looking for friendship. They are both very secretive, yet a simple conversation arises. Over the following nights as the two open up about themselves, Oskar realizes he has found a kindred spirit in this girl.

The film mainly plays out as a series of conversations between Oskar and Eli as their relationship blossoms. Intercut are several intense scenes of blood-letting. It wouldn't be a vampire movie without it. The shock come in the various forms Eli gets her supply of blood. A 12-year old girl takes apart adults with relative ease. The film was shot and produced in Sweden so the blood is less gruesome than an American film but makes you feel very uncomfortable.

Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar in Let the Right One InAt the start of the film, Eli is living with an older man, a parent or parental guardian. He protects her as well as providing her a fresh supply of blood. He is a ruthless killer, methodically stalking his prey. Poor planning leads to his demise leaving Eli on her own.

The reason I bring up this plot point refers to the film's title, "Let the Right One In". This aptly applies to both the youngsters. As a vampire, Eli cannot enter anyone's home with being invited inside. Oskar is an emotional cripple and it evolves around who he lets into his heart and life.

The film is slow moving, allowing the story to unfold at its own pace. With each succeeding encounter between Oskar and Eli, we learn a bit more about them as their relationship grows. Eli helps Oskar to stand up to the bullies. Hit back. Hit harder than you think you can. The film is populated with many reflections, in windows and mirrors, as the two reflect on their lives and what the future holds for them. At the beginning of the movie, Oskar places his hand on his window. When he removes it, there is no moisture residue. At the end of the film, the shot is repeated with the moisture evident showing that "life" is flowing in Oskar's heart. Spoiler Alert: The ending sequence shows Oskar taking over as Eli's protector. He will grow up, grow old and die while keeping her safe during the sunlight hours. Sweden is a nice place for vampires in the winter but the summers would be a major problem. Therefore, Eli needs a guardian angel.

The makeup effects for Eli bear a special note. Each time she is shown, she looks slightly different, depending on how recently she has fed. Sometimes, there are wrinkles on her face, other times she looks 12 years old. Her eyes also change when she is feeding. These effects are very subtle, unlike the no doubt U.S. remake.

There is a rather subtle point made in the film as to whether Eli is a boy or a girl. A very pointed question arises when Eli asks Oskar if he would still like her if she were a boy. His answer is "yes". But the question still lingers: Who is Eli... really? Personally, I think Eli experienced bullying similar to what Oskar is facing. I think it ended bad for Eli. Her chance for revenge was to become a vampire and so she really understands what Oskar is feeling. Does the revelation of Eli's sex mean anything to this story? No, but it adds several layers of complexity to what appears to be a simple, straight forward movie.

There is nothing like a well written movie that poses questions but doesn't answer them. This is one film to not miss. There is much more going on here and I don't want to put my stamp on it saying this is what was intended. The director and screen writer may have fully intended these questions not be answered easily. This is a much more complicated film than it appears on one viewing. I hope to get the chance to revist this fascinating world. I doubt, or hope, that the questions are not answered... or they evoke more questions.