Let The Right One In (2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson

Let The Right One In has been sitting on our shelf unwrapped for some time now. It's a vampire movie and therefore, I decided, too scary to watch in the evening. Yes, there is blood, people hung in trees, murder and infection, but none of it feels unreasonable after all.

The main characters Oskar and Eli (the vampire), both about 12 years old, are like a modern day Ronja and Birk of Swedish story telling. This film is a beautiful fairytale about what it means to become friends. The facts that Eli needs to eat blood to live, avoid sun light, and that she can crawl up walls and fly, are only minor details and the things that make her vulnerable and special.

Oskar is badly bullied in school. The depiction of bullying and the cruel dynamic in which he tries not to lose sense of self-worth is shockingly life like. Unfortunately. In the end the bullies threaten to kill Oskar. But luckily he has one friend, Eli.

In the Swedish suburban setting the movie also manages to address single motherhood, divorce, and alcoholism. Serious and re-occuring themes in Scandinavian families, for real. But despite the somewhat depressing content, Let The Right One In is full of hope. The mixture of fantastical, unreal, realist and historical is so inspiring that I wish school children could watch this. It's too gory for them, I know, but the child in me was thankful to see an emphatic and understanding film about growing up. It's the hardest part.

Nick :
It's weird watching a vampire film set in such common surroundings. The buildings, deep snow and aesthetics of Alfredson's film felt so much like suburban Finland at times, even though it's Sweden. Let The Right One In had a similar portrayal of vampire needs than Bret Easton Ellis' short story on LA vampires from The Informers. Maybe it's the everyday need for blood that's so matter of fact in both stories that I think binds them, even though they are so different.

Two children, both 12, become good friends. Oskar has divorced parents, no friends and is bullied at school. Eli, has been 12 for many years. She can fly and is a vampire with a constant need for food (i.e. blood). Oskar and Eli inevitably fall in love whilst Eli helps Oskar confront and gain revenge on his tormentors. Despite the Horror genre, what makes Let The Right One In so effective and touching a movie is the focus on the friendship between Oskar and Eli. Alfredson's film is high on atmosphere and looks amazing, almost idealizing the Swedish winter. There are some vampire cliches thrown around this film. Stay out of the daylight, the sight of blood making Eli crave for Oskar's blood at one point, the flying and Eli's attacks on her victims. But all this is handled with a deadpan beauty and naturalism that seems refreshing rather than stale.
This film moved me in some strange way. I didn't find it scary or anything like that, but Eli and Oskar's friendship was a good one to watch blossom. Chilling and poetic in an unpretentious way.


  1. Hello to you both,

    It's been wonderful reading through your blog, especially when this (one of my personal favourites) has been reviewed. It's been interesting seeing it from the eyes of someone to whom the scenery is every day. Whenever I watch it, it feels like the temperature drops by a few degrees and I watch for the steam of my breath even when it shouldn't be there.

    It's particularly nice, Nick, to see that you're doing well and that your love of films hasn't diminished over the years. You were a great inspiration to me.

    Best wishes



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