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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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a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin.

  • Apr 3, 2009
  • by
(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 film about serious problems. Tomas Alfredson directs John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his own novel. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Every school has one. He is the one kid who is the easiest mark and the one who is always the target of cruelty. The most bullied kid is school is twelve-year-old Oskar (played by Kure Hedebrant) who is reaching a confused puberty facing his parents' broken marriage and his living without friends in an atmosphere as cold as the Swedish winter around him. One day playing with a knife, taking his frustration out on a tree, he runs into a girl just his age. Eli (Lina Leandersson) is new to his apartment block. Though she says she cannot be friends with Oskar, she is clearly interested in him. And she is strange. She seems unable to eat candy or come out in the light of day. Soon there are reports of murders in the area. One person sees an adult committing the murders, another sees it as a young girl. Eventually Eli tells her secret to Oskar. She is a vampire. Yes, she is twelve years old like Oskar, but she has been twelve for a very long time. Together they form a sensual and intellectual relationship and Eli tries to get Oscar to fight back against his tormentors. But this may not be the best plan. 

The combination of young bullies, families that do not work, revenge fantasies, and supernatural powers may bring to mind Stephen King's CARRIE, though the pacing and style are all-Swedish. The viewer may want to put on a sweater before even watching this film. The cold of the setting and the insular people who talk in isolated sentences creates a real chill in this film. Oskar is the mortal, but he looks almost like he is a vampire himself with his unnaturally white skin, his light blond hair, and his bright red lips. Eli is dark-haired with wide, hypnotic eyes. Together they form a friendship that they both desperately need. 

The dialog is spoken in a Bergmanesque style, frequently given with two or three beats between sentences. That makes reading the subtitles easier, but it also separates the viewer from the characters and leaves an unsettling feeling. The silences in the film speak as much as the words. For non-Swedish speakers it may be difficult to tell the adult characters apart. Frequently the viewer is left with a feeling that he does not quite follow what the film is saying. Alfredson said in an interview that he intentionally left some of the film unexplained. There certainly are unanswered questions. The final scene does not seem to fit logically with what came before it and is left unexplained. 

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is not a piece of throwaway fluff. It is a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin. It is illuminated by the presence of presence of a vampire, but it is a deep and unsettling film. I rate LET THE RIGHT ONE IN a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. 

Film Credits: 
  Mark R. Leeper
  Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper

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April 11, 2009
You had me at Swedish vampire flick! The plot sounds like Carrie meets Twilight, so I'm intrigued.  Thanks for sharing.

On a side note, I just noticed that you have three rating scales! :P
April 11, 2009
Three? Oh, I guess with lunch I probably do. Actually I think on the -4 to +4 scale, but lot of people do not understand it so I translate to the 1-10 scale. At lunch they have a -5 to +5 scale and I am new to that, but using it.
April 11, 2009
Oh, that's interesting. Well, your own scale is very similar to Lunch's!
April 11, 2009

Actually it is not really my scale. A friend and I used to read Cinefantastique Magazine in the mid-1970s. They used the -4 to +4 scale and my friend and I picked it up.   It has a very statistical feel.  I explain it in more detail on a link off my homepage, but apparently this editor will not let me give you the URL. 

Ah, that's a workaround.  I discuss the rating at system at:



April 12, 2009
That's a very thorough explanation of your rating scales.  I was just curious about it because most rating scales that I've seen have been in increments of five.

In regards to adding links to comments, did you highlight the text and then click on the second button from the right on the text editor?  That should do the trick!
April 12, 2009

Actually I was just trying to paste the URL from the cut-buffer.  It was a very strange behavior.  It pasted as a big chunk of Chinese pictograms.  No idea why that was. I ended typing the link.   I will try what I did again below.

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April 12, 2009
April 12, 2009
Hmmm, that's very, very strange because it worked for me! I send this to HQ.
April 12, 2009
I am on Mac OS X. I don't know what environment you are using, but that could conceivably make a difference. A big clue would be to know what the Chinese says.
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
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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
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A powerfully eerie yet beautiful film. A must see for anyone who likes scary movies!
review by . March 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Dvd cover
      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 …
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 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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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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