Let the Right One In (2008)
September 17, 2014 11:38 AM - Subscribe

Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den Rätte Komma In) is a 2008 Swedish romantic horror film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on the 2004 novel of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. The film tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.

This is the 14th pick of the MeFi Horror Film Club.
posted by DirtyOldTown (24 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hah! I only just realized that Kåre Hedebrant, who plays Oskar in this, plays Tobias in Real Humans/Äkta Människor.
posted by figurant at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wasn't able to watch this a second time for the movie club due to availability on Canadian Netflix, but I did rather enjoy it.

how was the remake? It was available here but I didn't want to be disappointed.
posted by Hoopo at 1:21 PM on September 17, 2014


how was the remake?

Also not as good as the book.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2014


And generally considered to be not as good as the Swedish film. More gore and suspense, playing up the bullying, but without as much emotional depth or resonance. Most concur that it's not a bad film, but "there was no good reason for this movie to exist beyond a lazy American disinterest in subtitles" because the original was so good.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I'm 12. I've been 12 for a very long time."

Little things I enjoyed:
The two women not screaming at the body in the woods
Eli's gliding jump from the jungle gym
The seen but not heard argument between Eli and Hakan
Eli's eyes glowing in the dark, ever so briefly‎
Eli's unnatural posture when she was lapping Oskar's blood. The sound. OMG, the sound.
The look on Oskar's face after he hit one of the bullies. He's discovering the power and joy and triumph. It is sweet. ‎
The way they make Eli look older at certain times. ‎


Eli crawling up the side of the hospital bldg was ever so creepy. Hakan's scaring was horrific and his fall out the window was great. He was discarded without a moment's thought, a backward glance. She didn't even exert herself to throw him out. She just finished drinking and that was that. Eli is a monster but it's her nature. She found Oskar when her current "Renfield" was ready to be discarded, as she has probably done for centuries.

Their loneliness is palpable. I don't doubt they have a genuine connection but when it's time, Eli will move on. Still, at the end there's a sense that Oskar will be better at this than Hakan.

‎I loved how they showed that the bullies themselves were subject to peer pressure. You could almost feel for them.

Bittersweet.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I liked this a great deal. I actually wasn't sure that Eli was just using Oskar, or that her relationship with Hakan was purely parasitic. I got the feeling that she had at least some feelings for both of them, even if it was mixed in with the disconnect that comes from being a different (arguably superior) species. So that it is to say, that she WAS using them both, but that she probably had some genuine emotion mixed up in it.

Also, as someone who's never been to this part of the world, is Stockholm so grim and dreary as the movie makes it out to be? Is that a function of it being winter time? An indicator of poverty for Oskar's family? Just a necessary part of it being a horror movie setting? At times it felt more like a decaying soviet apartment block than the capital of Sweden.
posted by codacorolla at 7:50 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


she WAS using them both, but that she probably had some genuine emotion mixed up in it.

Yeah, I can see she once felt something for Hakan. That scene where he asks her to not see Oskar and she just strokes his cheek and walks away. Oy.

At times it felt more like a decaying soviet apartment block than the capital of Sweden

This. The only other Swedish production I am familiar with offhand is very different. Lots of light, everything very slick, upper-middle class, a bit sterile.

I'm re-thinking Oskar now. Previously I felt he changed and chose his own fate instead of continuing in a shitty situation but now I'm not so sure. Maybe he never really changed. He's just so very accepting of everything that happens to him.

He accepts the boys whipping him without fighting back, he accepts his clothing being peed upon, he accepts being drowned, he accepts the pretense of friendship by one of the bullies. The only time he fought back was on the ice.

This is identical to Hakan's behaviour. Hakan accepts being raged at by Eli, he accepts being caught and mutilates himself as a foregone conclusion, he accepts that his final use to her is being a meal.

Maybe Oskar never changed throughout the entire movie. From the beginning he was a killer in training and that's still his status in the end. From the beginning he went where pushed and now Eli's the one doing the pushing instead of the bullies.

Oskar and Hakan fit a type that Eli finds attractive; a profile compatible to her needs and desires.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:21 PM on September 17, 2014


Oh my god this movie!

First off, I unfortunately saw a dubbed version. That sucked. Yet, this movie was still insanely good and terrible!

OK, is this a movie about fascism? Does this say something about Swedish culture? Does the ideology of this film ultimately favor violence?

The book?! There's a book!??

There is something smart to be said about female sexuality here! And male sexuality!

The feel of the movie. It was incredible. Like my blood was filled with ice sludge while I watched.

That scene with the cats was just weird and bad! Like cheap horror movie from the 50s bad! What the hell?!

I watched this on a fairly early date night with my partner and although she was a total sport about it she must have really thought I was a fucking freak how into it I was...

The end!! Agh!

Basically, this movie fucked with me so much that I can not say anything substantive about... anything.
posted by latkes at 9:52 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


She clearly didn't care about Oskar, and the premise of the movie was that she was a much older being that was deliberately seducing and abusing a young, troubled boy. If she cared about him, she could have turned him into a vampire so they could be together forever. I assume that was the whole point of the middle aged lady getting turned, to show Eli had the power but was withholding it from Oskar so he would be her slave or whatever you want to call it.

Eli knew exactly what was happening every step of the way and was certainly manipulating Oskar. I feel like this movie was horrific because its was about the abuse of a minor. Yuck!
posted by Literaryhero at 3:35 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I saw this when it came out on DVD and one (just one!) scene puzzled me: when the boy goes to spend some time with his father who is living in a cabin in the woods, and a neighbor drops in to visit.

It was such an awkward scene and obviously there was some subtext I was not getting. Was his father gay and that's why he split with the mother? And the neighbor was his lover? I went to the IMDb board and it turns out that a lot of viewers had the same question and someone posted that only Americans came to the conclusion that the father was gay and that Europeans understood that he was an alcoholic.

I thought that was interesting.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:37 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Literaryhero: I'd heard that perspective prior going into the movie, but I don't see how deliberate and purposeful manipulation doesn't preclude Eli having a complicated (and disgusting) emotional attachment to Oskar. Real life abuse often happens in situations where the abuser still has an unhealthy emotional attachment to the abused. I also don't remember the movie having scenes that point towards Eli's actions being totally emotionless and premeditated.

It could be something that comes up in the book, given what I understand of the huge differences between the two. Speaking of which, should we avoid talking about the major difference between the book and movie?
posted by codacorolla at 6:42 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, as someone who's never been to this part of the world, is Stockholm so grim and dreary as the movie makes it out to be? Is that a function of it being winter time? An indicator of poverty for Oskar's family? Just a necessary part of it being a horror movie setting? At times it felt more like a decaying soviet apartment block than the capital of Sweden.

It's the winter (and its long, quiet nights, and its lack of foliage) that make it super-dreary, but the low-rise apartment block setup is completely typical of Swedish suburbia. The book's author, John Ajvide Lindqvist, is from the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg, where the story is set (though most of the movie was shot in a similar place further north for more reliable snow). That's what it's like. The way Lindqvist deals with architecture and city planning and their effects on people is actually a big part of what makes him a great writer.

Here in Canada, a lot of "co-op" neighbourhoods look just like that, albeit stuck in the middle of otherwise typical North American cul-de-sac sprawl.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:24 AM on September 18, 2014


It could be something that comes up in the book

It is. It's kind of the whole theme, in fact. I'd go into it more deeply, but I can't figure out a way of doing so that isn't totally spoileriffic.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:34 AM on September 18, 2014


We don't have a book section so I say go for it. Add a big BOOK SPOILER section if that helps. I'd certainly love to hear more, Sys Rq.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:41 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed the movie and found the relationships between all the main characters deeply intriguing. I found the ambiguity in Eli's relationships fascinating - was Eli just using people up and replacing them, or was there more emotional connection? How were Oskar and Hakan different or similar in Eli's eyes?


With these questions, I decided to read the book - without including any spoilers, I think my questions about those relationships is completely answered in the book. I encourage people to read it if they enjoyed the movie.


I liked the American remake well enough, but the original version and the book are far superior and a remake was really unnecessary.
posted by Julnyes at 11:23 AM on September 18, 2014


I'd love to hear more about the book. Is it great? Is there someone who's writing style you could compare it to?
posted by latkes at 11:58 AM on September 18, 2014


It was awhile ago when I read it but I do remember that it was indeed great. It includes Eli's back story which fills in important details about the character and their relationships. It also includes an important plot device to the story that both of the movies made sure to highlight early on but flubbed the story up by not including it in the third act.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:22 PM on September 18, 2014


It is great. I'm not a big horror reader outside of Lindqvist, so I don't really have anything to compare him to, but the book jackets all claim he's "The Swedish Stephen King," for whatever that's worth.

Anyway. I don't think it's too spoilery to just say Literaryhero nailed it upthread. Vampires are always a metaphor for something, and in this case, yep, the vampire is essentially a pedophile grooming a new victim as the current one grows too old. The problem with the movies is that it's very easy to miss the ambiguity and read only the wrong side of it. The book doesn't exactly spell it out in giant flashing letters, but it all unfolds in a way that the same ending is entirely nonononononono and not at all awwww; that The Graduate-esque "Sound of Silence" now what thing the movies have got going...well, in the book, by that point you know full well what's in store for Oskar, and you're not exactly cheering for it.

And in case that is too spoilery, I'll just point out that the best part of the whole book isn't in either movie at all, basically has nothing to do with any of the above, and is worth the full sticker price all on its own.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:38 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


well, in the book, by that point you know full well what's in store for Oskar, and you're not exactly cheering for it.

Interesting... Because I thought that very last scene of the movie was key to whatever the ideology of the movie is, which is the part of the movie, beyond the overall tone which is amazing and terrible, that I'm most fascinated by.

In the end I feel that we're left sort of rooting for them as a team, even though we know what's in store, even though we can see how she's using him (even if she's also loving him), and how he will be eventually discarded. The way we're led to root for them making this evil, terrible choice is really haunting for me and why I am serious in asking if this movie has a fascist ideology. As an audience, we end up in favor of this brutal super-human and whoever she's chosen to bring into her small circle. I was pretty horrified by this as an ending even as I got a sort of cathartic thrill from it.
posted by latkes at 1:49 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have seen this movie, and seen the remake of this movie, and read the book (I read the book first!), and I would say each has its rewards, though they are not equal. One thing I find interesting is that each treats Hakan differently. I will try not to spoil by saying this, but he has a larger part in the book, and basically it's all material that felt very jarring and out of place to me relative to the rest of the story, and I think it's telling that both sets of filmmakers chose to delete it. I like the remake's take on him most of all, but there should be something there you haven't seen before if you choose to watch it, so I'll say no more.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love this movie. One of the touches I remember really liking is in Eli and Oskar's first meeting - you can see Oskar's breath steaming in the cold air; but nothing from Eli. Wonderful little touch. And the pool scene is really well done, IMO.

it turns out that a lot of viewers had the same question and someone posted that only Americans came to the conclusion that the father was gay and that Europeans understood that he was an alcoholic.

Interesting. I'm Canadian and my conclusion was that his father was a gay alcoholic. Cultural melting pot!

The way we're led to root for them making this evil, terrible choice is really haunting for me and why I am serious in asking if this movie has a fascist ideology. As an audience, we end up in favor of this brutal super-human and whoever she's chosen to bring into her small circle.

To me, it's not about facism - it's about Oskar, a neglected, abused little boy who is targeted, groomed, and recruited by a very skilled predator who knows she needs someone to be her human face. We're seeing a cycle of abuse that is very old on Eli's side - and it's not that she doesn't care about her human servants/masks/Renfields, but this is part of what she needs to survive. And Oskar is ripe for it - neglected, ignored, bullied, trapped in his own cycle of abuse; being given a supernatural protector who actually pays attention to him must feel amazing. My take on it has always been that Eli won't directly physically abuse him, but will take care of him in her own twisted way...and in return, Oskar will live his life keeping her safe, keeping her secrets, and when the time comes he will die protecting her. Just as Hakan did, and probably countless more before him.

But in terms of meta-narrative, this is about the cycle of abuse and how people from abusive situations as children are vulnerable to further abusive relationships; I don't see any political overtones. Or that's my take, anyways.

This book has been on my reading list for some time, and I should go get it.
posted by nubs at 8:17 AM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Actually those of us who have read the book know that Oskar's internal life makes him a perfect match for Eli's needs.

What I got from the book, which obviously delved deeper than the movies, is that romantic love is futile. The book is filled with failing couples who do love each other but just can't make it work. The only one that succeeds is Eli and Oskar and we know that' strictly short term. It's not accidentally that she references Romeo and Juliet. They have a moment of happiness, but ultimately what we're seeing is a tragedy before it happens. And Eli knows it.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:09 PM on September 20, 2014


Yeah, even from the movie I got a very grim view of romantic love.
posted by latkes at 12:21 PM on September 20, 2014


One of the things that makes the movie excellent (I have not read the book or seen the American remake) is the fact that it doesn't preclude Eli's taking Oskar on from being awful nor does it preclude Oskar's prospects being represented as having improved. This can be a really awful fate yet still one with joys and affection of a sort.

A out of the fire and into the frying pan can still be a rescue, even if it's a shit one.
posted by phearlez at 10:27 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


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