Review: Let The Right One In

Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In breathes new life into the vampire genre with a tale of survival and coming of age. If Twilight was the fast food of vampire films, then this is fine dining.

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Released: 2008 / Genre: Horror/Drama / Country: Sweden / IMDB

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Discover More: Top 10 Modern Vampire Films | 31 Days of Horror

Have you ever been bullied to the point that no amount of retribution is enough to make them stop? Have your parents neglected you and forgotten that you exist most of the time? Have you ever fallen in love with a girl…who happened to be a vampire? Let the Right One In explores the complex relationship between a young boy and what appears to be a young girl.

The first impression is always the most important. Oskar is working on his courage, imaging the kind of revenge he would like to get on the boys bulling him at school. With his butterfly knife in hand, it would seem this boy would have no trouble defending himself. Sadly, the numbers are against him when it comes to the bullies and he just sits there and takes it.

vampire horror, coming of age, teen, sweden,

On a cold winter night, Oskar meets a young girl outside on the jungle gym. The girl looks to be dressed in PJ’s and isn’t wearing any socks. Apparently she’s used to this sort of thing. What Eli isn’t used to, is making friends. She starts to visit Oskar frequently and the two develop on bond. Oskar is used to being picked on and put down, so when a girl starts paying attention to him he quickly falls for her.

What Oskar doesn’t understand is that Eli isn’t human. She must kill humans in order to survive, draining the blood from their bodies. She doesn’t always do it herself because she has a man who looks after her. Hakan does the dirty work. He will go out in the dead of night and look for the next victim for Eli to feed upon. There’s a great sense that Hakan is really the villain here, but if you look at Eli as the protagonist in this story, the killing he is doing is essential to her survival.

Eli and Oskar must discover what their bond means to each other. Whether it is strong enough for Oskar to handle Eli’s greatest secret. If Oskar can’t defend himself from the kids at school, how could he ever manage to protect Eli?

Let the Right One In isn’t your typical horror film. While it features its fair share of blood and violence, it also has a young romance between two unlikely creatures. This is how a vampire love story should be done. Classic movies always have scenes you remember from them. I will never forget that late evening by the school pool or the school ice skating function. ‘Let the Right One In’ elevates itself from being just another horror film and should be regarded in the same class as other horror greats that transcended the genre.Thomas Alfredson does an incredible job with the story. Adapting the story from Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Alfredson makes it hard to believe the story was passed over for film adaptations. Let the Right One In has excellent pacing, with the only downfall being the attention given to the neighbors. I never really cared for any of those characters or the plight they were put into and their inclusion to the only mis-step in a fine film.

Review by Max Covill (See more from Max at Impassioned Cinema) – See all reviews

This review is part of 31 Days of Horror:

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. kobie Reply

    Great write up.

    I absolutley love this film. I know ths is heresy i might like the remake more though!

  2. ruth Reply

    Nice review, Max. I don’t do horror but I might make an exception one of these days and rent this given all the stellar reviews.

  3. max Reply

    @Kobie

    I did not view the remake for this review. From what I hear that nasty bit of CGI with the cats is gone in the remake and that might be worth checking it out on Netflix.

    @Ruth

    I don’t do horror either. If I do horror it’s typically something psychological or a zombie feature. Grindhouse is probably the most violent horror film I enjoy. I typically go for an intense drama. Something drew me to this film and with all the hype ‘Tinker Tailor Solder Spy’ has been getting I owed it to myself to see this film. I didn’t think it was all that horrific and there isn’t a multitude of limbs flying.

  4. Thomas Reply

    and it’s only the limbs of those flying who deserve it … very satisfying ending, isn’t it? I think the film is a little bit overrated, but for the
    right reasons: people are so happy to see a mature, honest and uncompromising film about the pains of childhood and growing up (and it is much more a coming-of-age film than a vampire film) that they are very forgiving about the flaws. With its darkness and melancholia, it creates just the right atmosphere – and actually it is the gory and the special effect bits that interrupt that atmosphere and maybe do not work as well.
    But I did like it very much, all in all, and also enjoyed the remake more than I would have expected:
    Let The Right One In: http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/lat-den-ratte-komma-in-let-the-right-ones-in-tomas-alfredson-2008/
    Let Me In: http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/let-me-in-matt-reeves-2010/

  5. Sir Phobos Reply

    This is one of my favorite horror movies, mostly because it’s such a unique take on the vampire genre.

    The story is actually pretty tragic. It might seem like a budding love story, but if you think about it, Eli and Haken were probably in the same situation when Haken was a boy. Eli finds the people who seem capable of murder and secrecy. Sure, she might also latch onto people she’s attracted to in some way, but at the end of the day, it’s an endless cycle of Eli using a special person to keep her alive.

    The remake uses the same general theme, but makes some subtle changes that takes their relationship in a slightly different direction. I love both versions.

  6. Will Reply

    Wow, five stars. Add this to the many good things I’ve heard. Maybe I should watch this one!

  7. Shubhajit Lahiri Reply

    Let the Right One In is a superb movie, and one of my favourite films of the 2000’s. Beautifully shot & lovingly paced, the movie has so much poignancy that its at times difficult to believe that it is a vampire film at the end of the day.

    I found the American remake, Let Me In, to be a more traditional vampire film in comparison, as opposed to deconstructionist nature of the Swedish original. However I did like Let Me In as well, though I usually don’t like remakes.

  8. Colin Reply

    Great selections. It’s always so “artsy” to say you like the foreign original better, but “Let Me In” is also a knock-out and Stephen King gave it his seal of approval. Love the use of the Blue Oyster Cult “Burnin for You” in the American remake.

    Here’s an UN-scary film:
    http://colincarman.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/review-dream-house/

  9. amy Reply

    This was my fave film of 2008, and everything I liked about it was pretty much distilled for Let Me In – but then again… how to compare the remake to your favorite film, right?

    LtROi is really fine dining compared to a lot of different genre movies, not only against Twilight xD, though I would really compared Twilight to snacking on something that’s really bad for health. xD And maybe “fast food of vampires” would be something like Buffy. xD

  10. TheScarletSp1der Reply

    As much as I try, i still like LET ME IN more! (http://wp.me/pWaTa-lI)

    I watched Let Me In first, and maybe that is why. Let The Right One In is a great film and I liked it too, just liked the pace and story telling that Reeves chose in his rendition. I mentioned this over at ImpassionedCinema too.

    Great write up!

  11. Raghav Reply

    Great review. I decided to skip the americanized version of the film, because I loved the original. The pool scene in the end is just phenominal.

  12. Novroz Reply

    Great review Max…I think it is better than mine.
    The pool scene is the best. It didn’t show much but we can clearly imagine what had happened

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