Movie Review – Let the Right One In

We are really excited about this movie we watched over the weekend!

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in – in swedish) is a 2008 Swedish romantic horror film directed by Tomas Alfredson. Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay), the film tells the story of Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.

photo from slashfilm.com

Though the movie is in essence, of the horror genre, you will notice that Alfredson,  decided to tone down many elements of the novel and focused primarily on the relationship between the two main characters. Apparently, the selection of the lead actors involved a year-long process with open castings held all over Sweden. In the end, then 11-year-olds Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson were chosen for the leading roles who turned out to be gifted actors and were commended by both Alfredson and film reviewers from all over the world, for their performances. Why is the best acting almost always conveyed most succinctly by new found talents? I guess that’s why they call them talents.

Hah..! Anyway, FINALLY a vampire movie worthy of our praise!  If you were depressed, bored or plain annoyed at the chaste blandness of Twilight (like we were) this movie is going to restore your faith in the power of vampire mythology.


The simple, wide angle camera work captures the stark beauty of the snow covered setting and gives the movie a chill about it that is super effective as a horror. The snow makes everything seem so pure and innocent.. just like childhood. A perfect canvas to amplify the horror when blood and gore gets splattered all over it. Even Oskar, played by first time actor Kåre Hedebrant, is blond haired and white skinned giving him an immense vulnerability that contrasts sharply in the scenes where he plays with a knife and fantasizes about having violent power over his classmate tormentors.

Another first time actor, Lina Leandersson, plays Eli who is a vampire trapped forever in the body of a twelve year-old-girl.What I found creepily effective about Eli was that when the camera zooms in on her eyes you will see an old being residing there.. really believing that she has lived way beyond her years. Even now, the thought makes my hair stand on end.

Anyway, true to Vampire genre, Eli’s savage appetites must be fed one way or the other, prompting her dad (I think)  to hunt down teenage boys, slit their throats, and bleed them like halal meat. Milking your victim through a slit jugular is even more effective with you hang him upside down so that gravity does the job for you. Again the white snow is just the perfect backdrop to off-set the beauty of a bleeding human corpse. Stomach churning to say the least.

So why is this movie so compelling, so praiseworthy?

Because, even though Eli is obviously a monster, even after you’ve seen her tearing out throats and snapping necks it remains near impossible not to be moved by the kids as their relationship blossoms. One being the protector, the other the companion. I like the part when they communicate via morse-code when the sun is up, because Eli obviously cannot emerge till it is dark again. Also, another great thing about this movie is that all acts of violence are so brief and artfully depicted that they create an impact that lingers long in the mind, while taking up hardly any screen time.. something bland, lackluster movies like Twilight should learn a thing or two from.

Highly recommended but don’t just take our word for it. This film received widespread international critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the “Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature” at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation’s 2008 Méliès d’Or (Golden Méliès) for the “Best European Fantastic Feature Film”, as well as four Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute.

6 Comments

  • Looks great. Just my type of movie. Such a shame it will probably never see the light of day over here. Would be lucky to find it on dvd. In interview with a vampire also had the notion of a forever young child. Very scary indeed!

  • Sean says:

    There’s a Hollywood remake of this that got very good reviews too! I haven’t watched the remake yet, but yeah, this one was well-made (though a bit too slow and melancholy for me, heheh)

  • fraulein says:

    Sounds like a good movie. You watched it at GSC international screens?

  • Oooh. I remember this show! – Was very low key but chilling… Just can’t figure out whether Eli really cares for Oskar or is just manipulating him….

  • LeslieTravel says:

    I love vampire movies and actually tried to watch this. It was soooo slow! I just couldn’t get into it and turned it off before finishing. I’m curious about the remake– I’m sure it will have a lot more action up front.

  • Watched this in Edinburgh last year… really good. And I can’t wait for the American re-envisioning… a different animal altogether but promises to be good too, in a different way. (That one’s re-titled ‘Let Me In’, so it’s clear it’s not the same film, just redone in English.)

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