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Let The Right One In

A Swedish horror film about a young boy who befriends a vampire.

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  • Mar 11, 2009

Poster art for "Let the Right One In."

I have always had a strong fondness for vampire films. Honestly, much of the vampire films these days are full of cliché and while most of them does attempt at something original, they all have one common denominator; to induce HORROR. Well, Sweden seems to have mastered an original take on the vampire lore and yes, this film has been marked to be "Americanized" very soon. "Let the Right One In" is a film adapted from the novel and written for the screen by John Ajvide Lindqvist with very powerful direction by Thomas Alfredson. Rather than a vampire film geared to induce scares, this film is heavy on mood that will definitely terrify and touch our very hearts.

Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a 12-year old boy whose parents are separated, he collects news clippings, and who gets bullied in school by his classmates. He usually wanders his apartment grounds at night while pining for vengeance against his tormentors. One evening, he meets Eli (superbly played by Lina Leanderson), a mysterious young girl of the same age with whom Oskar forms a provisional friendship. The two become quite close, as bizarre murders begin to run rampant in their community. Eli is a girl with powers that Oskar can barely understand, and she sees Oskar as an innocent, kindly soul worth preserving. Oskar sees Eli as his friend and confidant, as he becomes attracted to her. However, Eli has been twelve for quite a long time--she is a vampire. Their world is about to fall apart as things begin to spiral out of control.

          Ika Nord in "Let the Right One In."

                       Kare Hedebrant in "Let the Right One In."

Ever wonder what would happen if a 12 year old girl is turned into a vampire at such an early age? Being an immortal stuck at this pre-teen age can become quite complicated. Well, this Swedish vampire tale attempts to answer that question. The film is a moody affair and is full of hauntingly effective emotions. The film's main focus is the relationship between Eli and Oskar, and Eli as an immortal with a tortured soul and a conscience. "..Right One" observes the naïve sensuality between pre-teens and the brutality of having to kill to survive. As an immortal, Eli is longing for companionship, there is a subtle hint that the man who brought her into Oskar's apartment complex isn't exactly her father but that definition isn't really revealed which gives Eli a sense of being an enigma.

Eli isn't a villain, but rather also a victim. It was wise for the screenplay to treat her as another casualty rather than the antagonist--her situation itself is the film's "bad guy". "..Right One" is also a thematic affair in regards to isolation, loneliness as reflected by our two leads, and an empty life to live that requires viciousness to survive. The direction has a methodical approach, as it slowly brings Eli and Oskar together, introduces the violence without any elucidation to build on the film's psychological impact. Director Alfredson cleverly plays on how each scene of violence is shown, the violence is brutal but never for a minute do we forget about feeling sympathetic to Eli's situation. He allows the sympathy to steadily build within his audience but never for a minute does he forget to hold the viewer's interest. The way the film is shot is a form of minimalism, it avoids fancy camera shots, it lingers on some scenes to convey its mood and uses a lot of perspective. The film looks gorgeous, and the atmosphere has that darkly foreboding look that exudes sympathy accentuated further by its soundtrack.

            Lina Leandersson in "Let the Right One In."

            Kare Hedebrant in "Let the Right One In."

Of course, the film does have its dose of blood and gore, but it is very calculated. Most of it occur throughout the film as it builds towards its excellent climax. "..Right One" also has the usual rules that apply to vampires; vulnerability to sunlight, dependence on blood for sustenance, the usual powers, and the need to be invited to one's home. (It was quite interesting to see what happens to a vampire when they aren't invited to come in one's home). Eli kills her prey after she gets her fill, she doesn't want to turn anyone and she only kills because she has to. The performances by Lina Leanderson and Kare Hedebrant is just brilliant with their simplicity and the two never for a moment falter in showing their age. Their awkward but endearing relationship is the film's showstopper as it endears, charms, frightens and explores the boundaries of their friendship.

Now, don't think that Alfredson and Lindqvist does nothing else with the script. When we aren't watching Eli and Oskar, we become privy to the paranoid community as they talk and gossip about the murders. The film goes into poetic visceral overdrive as a mistake becomes the turning point for our young leads and all hell threatens everything and turns the wheels of destiny.

I highly doubt that this film would translate well in becoming "Americanized" in its intended remake, given its very distinct European roots (as with the case with Asian Horror). "Let the Right One In" perfectly balances visceral punch with thrilling emotions that takes its brutality into sincere purity. The film takes some chances and I commend it for asking us to forgive a child and to accept her form of evil--to give her a show of compassion and sympathy. The film is grisly, grotesque, unnervingly beautiful and gentle, and is a welcome installment in vampire lore. It features the concerns of pre-teens mixing it in with waiflike atmosphere. It is one dishearteningly stupendous art house horror film!

Highly Recommended! [5- Out of 5 Stars]

Lina Leandersson in "Let the Right One In."

Dvd cover cropping in style Movie poster

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December 28, 2010
Yeah I really liked this one as well, the remake was good I guess.
October 11, 2011
the remake was alright but unnecessary.
February 13, 2010
I did not realize they were going to remake this one. Bad is hard to improve on the feel of this film.
February 13, 2010
yup. The remake will be a love story called RIGHT ONE. H-wood is so weak.
March 13, 2009
Yes! I caught this film a few weeks ago and was equally impressed. I like how you highlight one of its key points: the 12-year-old girl is NOT the antagonist despite that she kills people and drinks their blood. It's her situation that's evil, she is merely the innocent victim. Perhaps more antagonistic are the bullies that torture the main character. (but they get their comeuppance...) Good review, I hope more people see it. and CURSE the American re-make
March 14, 2009
Thanks, movieman! Good catch on the bullies as more antagonistic than Eli. Quite curious as to how normal humans can be more heartless and dumb. People need to see the originals than trying to see the "Americanized" version.
March 13, 2009
I'd been hearing nothing but good things about this film, and being a diehard vampire enthusiast I'll have to see it now. Great review, Woo.
March 14, 2009
Count, this one really pleasantly surprised me. I really liked the different approach to the vampire lore. Check this one out!
More Let The Right One In (Låt den ... reviews
review by . February 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Even if "Twilight" seems to be most popular when it comes to Vampires in any form of media, it's good to get a nice, big breath of fresh air. And for me, that refreshing, long breathe was "Let the Right One In"; which by all means is the best Vampire movie since probably "Vampyr", "Nosferatu", and Herzog's remake. This is a moving, artistic, and powerful film that does not succeed because it is about vampires; but rather because it is sweet, tender, and even …
review by . November 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Puts the 'ire' back in vampire
This is not a book for the faint of heart. No sexy Edward Cullen here. No vamps who are actually nice guys and no good girl heroes either. In fact, this vampire isn't even sexual. The novel is not particularly clear on this point, but I deduce that Eli, the vampire, was once a human boy. Now s/he sometimes appears to be a boy and other times a girl. There is no sex and certainly no love.      Couple this old school vampire with a cast of unappealing human characters: an alienated …
Quick Tip by . November 04, 2010
posted in Reel Overseas
I hate vampire movies. I think we have reached the Vampire Event Horizon--one more vampire movie and all of movie-hood will be sucked into the black hole. That said, I liked this movie that just happened to have a vampire in it. This is a story of friendship and protection, not lust and sex. So if you want that kind of vampire movie, there are 180,097 x10 to the 35 vampire movies to choose from (which means that every atom in the universe has 5 vampire movies attached to it. I'm not kidding about …
Quick Tip by . August 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Ooowie...really creepy. Not so scary - but creepy creepy creepy. Just how does a twelve year old girl vampire survive? What seduction skills has she learned, and how does she draw a new fly into her web? Let the Right One In might be the best vampire movie I've ever seen, despite the revenge scene that seems to belong to another movie as it clashes against the small and careful character of the rest of the movie.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A powerfully eerie yet beautiful film. A must see for anyone who likes scary movies!
review by . May 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Waiting For The Right One
 It would seem LTROI has managed to captivate quite a few moviegoers everywhere & has enthralled it's audiences which amazes me. I actually was quite stoked about the idea of a really cool vampire flick which seemed to do so well with both audiences or critics alike & was even hoping to catch it on the big scream last year. Boy, I was in for quite a shock. This one is basically a snoozer & it took me three consecutive attempts to watch it all the way through.      …
Quick Tip by . November 05, 2009
While this film goes way beyond a semi-final scene, that semi-final scene is one of the best ever captured in horror film-making.
review by . April 03, 2009
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN  (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)    CAPSULE: With marked similarities to CARRIE, this is a Swedish vampire film. Oskar, the most bullied boy in school, makes friends with a girl who appears to be his own age, but is somehow different. The somehow is that she is a vampire, living a life as isolated in her way as Oskar is in his. The two form a bond against a background of vampire-related killings. In spite of the fantasy motif this is a serious …
review by . April 17, 2009
From the country that brought you Ingmar Bergman, Ikea, and the Noble prize, Sweden, comes an amazing horror film. The Vikings would be proud of this film! This one will put you on the edge of your seat and then scare the begeezes out of you. At the most simple level it is the vampire story. The new twist, the vampire is around 12 years old and the story takes place in the land of very long winter nights, Sweden.    This is a fairly slow moving film with scare points put in at …
review by . April 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Oskar is a lonely and disturbed young man, living with an alternately distant and overprotective mother, whose loving but alcoholic father has left them. He is bullied at school, and Oskar imagines what it would be like to frighten his torturer as he has been frightened. Then he meets Eli, an apparently odd but pretty young woman who moves next door, who turns out to be something altogether different. The relationship that develops is both extremely touching and utterly disturbing. The film touches …
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About this movie


The enduring popularity of the vampire myth rests, in part, on sexual magnetism. InLet the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson's carefully controlled, yet sympathetic take on John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish bestseller-turned-screenplay, the protagonists are pre-teens, unlike the fully-formed night crawlers of HBO’sTrue Bloodor Catherine Hardwicke’sTwilight(both also based on popular novels). Instead, 12-year-old Oskar (future heartbreaker Kåre Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson) enter into a deadly form of puppy love. The product of divorce, Oskar lives with his harried mother, while his new neighbor resides with a mystery man named Håkan (Per Ragnar), who takes care of her unique dietary needs. From the wintery moment in 1982 that the lonely, towheaded boy spots the strange, dark-haired girl skulking around their outer-Stockholm tenement, he senses a kindred spirit. They bond, innocently enough, over a Rubik's Cube, but little does Oskar realize that Eli has been 12 for a very long time. Meanwhile, at school, bullies torment the pale and morbid student mercilessly. Through his friendship with Eli, Oskar doesn't just learn how to defend himself, but to become a sort of predator himself, begging the question as to whether Eli really exists or whether she represents a manifestation of his pent-up anger and resentment. Naturally, the international success of Lindqvist's fifth feature, like Norway's chillingInsomniabefore it, has ...
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Director: Tomas Alfredson
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Horror
Release Date: January 26, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009
Runtime: 115 minutes
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
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