Let The Right One In: A 10th Anniversary Retrospective
On Halloween night, one is besieged by an onslaught of costumed characters with the promise of tricks or treats. It can be difficult to know which to reward by opening the door and whom to ignore by pretending you’re not home. It can be the same when deciding what horror movie to watch on All Hallows Eve. There are almost too many to choose from. Especially now with Netflix and other streaming services. On this night of all nights you want to invite the perfect choice into your home. In other words, you need to let the right one in…
This Halloween the right choice is absolutely Let The Right One In which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. This is no trick. Treat Yo Self!
It’s one of the best horror films of the last decade. It is the best vampire film of the 21st century (sorry, Twilight) and one of the most beautiful love stories in recent cinema history.
Initially standoffish, slowly the icy wall built up between younglings Oskar and Eli begins to thaw as the two begin to form the bonds of friendship and even romance. Eli encourages Oskar to stand up for himself and Oskar helps Eli rediscover her humanity. Oskar desires more: he desires Eli to be his girlfriend. She resists though, asking him if he’d still like her if she wasn’t a girl to which he says yes.
One of the true strengths of Tomas Alfredson‘s film based on Jonas Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is the focus of the story is the relationship between these star-crossed lovers.
“I must be gone and live or stay and die xx“
The film would certainly not have resonated with audiences the way it has if not for the incredible performances from the two leads Kare Hedebrant (Oskar) and in particular Lina Leandersson (Eli), whose portrayal of a 250 year old vampire trapped in a child’s body provides many different layers to analyse.
Like the lovers in Romeo & Juliet, there are serious reasons as to why they cannot be together. There is even a quote from the play in the film; “I must be gone and live or stay and die xx“, especially poignant from the lips of a vampire. There is also the disapproving father/guardian/Capulet figure of Hakan who forbids them from seeing each other.
The relationship between Hakan and Eli is one of the most fascinating aspects of the film as it is never entirely clear what its true nature is. Thankfully, a certain plot thread from the book was excised before filming but Hakan’s motives are still open to interpretation. Is he simply a servant for Eli? Someone to do her bidding and find a constant supply of fresh blood? Is he a potential sexual predator who abuses her in return for his services? Or has he been around too long and scared Eli will replace him with a new servant in Oskar?
It remains ambiguous throughout to the film’s benefit. Unlike Let Me In which removed the mystery in an otherwise serviceable but unnecessary US remake. The remake also alters Eli/Abby’s origin story which is a interesting and shocking twist that will not be spoiled here.
With the 80s setting in a dour, depressing council estate in Sweden (why do you think it was named after a Morrissey song?), the love story and plot thread of the bullies at school, it plays out like a twisted coming-of-age movie.
Yet it is still very much is a vampire film and is never afraid to deliver on the gore and horror. Is there anything more beautiful and unsettling in a horror film than the sight of blood splashed across fresh snow?
It contains some truly disturbing sequences: several botched attempts at collecting blood, a fiery demise and an example of exactly what happens to a vampire when it crosses the line of not being invited in.
Just don’t mention the CGI cats!
It has inspired an English language remake. Even an unexpected but impressive stage adaptation by the National Theatre of Scotland. However the beauty and visceral horror of the original remains unsurpassed. Leaving its lasting legacy behind it like bloody footprints in the snow.
Just like a vampire, Let The Right One In has not aged a day in the last ten years and remains the highlight of this particular horror sub-genre. Fangs for the memories!