31 Days of Halloween 11 – Let the Right Swedish One In

rightone1Let the Right One In (2008) is a coming of age tale about young Swedish vampires.  Forget the Universal and Hammer vampire stories, because this one comes at you from a different angle.  It takes chances and is even topical, covering bullying, young romance, and vampire social problems.  It is also disturbing.  

rightone2I am disturbed by the realities in this movie.  Some bullies torment a young kid named Oskar, so he imagines murdering them and collects knives.  He spends his nights reading newspapers about bloody murders and carnage in other parts of the world.  It intrigues him, and this is why he is drawn to Eli, a young vampire who lives next door.  Oskar’s parents are oblivious.

The use of vampires creates an analogy about isolation in the pre-teens of the movie.  They are alone.  Somehow, a bullied teen makes friends with a vampire, who is isolated by her very nature.  It is a strange connection, but also brilliant and original.  Some other things are thrown in to continue the analogy, like having a secret and first relationships.

rightone3This movie is extremely introspective.  It pans the environment and piano music is common.  I almost thought it was made by David Fincher.  It was directed by Tomas Alfredson, who also made the celebrated Tinker Tailor Solider Spy.  Alfredson creates a world that looks muted in color.  Everything seems grey and bleak. 

rightone4Eli explains that she kills people because she has to, while Oskar imagines killing people because he wants to.  It is the difference between a need and a want, a great parallel that paints Eli as sympathetic despite her horrific life.  In fact, all of the vampires in Let the Right One In are sympathetic.  There are no stereotypical villains, as in a Hammer film.

All in all, this is a pretty disturbing and scary film.  You fear for the young people in the movie and hope nothing bad happens, but at the same time, Eli is a vampire, so you’re torn.  The highlight of this movie is its final scene, where Eli kills all the bullies tormenting Oskar at the pool.  This is a movie that was later remade for American audiences in 2010, but the original is better.  It dares to put vampires in a sympathetic light and have them defend the youth from all the problems of a modern age. 

 How do you let the right one in?

The movie has the premise that a vampire cannot enter a home without permission.  I’ve never heard of this part of vampire folklore, but it is one of the older myths that you rarely see used today.  Let the Right One In has all of the typical vampire traits, including vampires burning in sunlight and feeding on blood.  The movie is like a modern folktale.  Clearly, the movie does not contain the literary vampire, as in Dracula from the novel.  It does not contain the ravaneous vampire or the new age angsty vampire from recent movies.  It contains vampires as an allegory for outcasts.  Therefore, letting the right one in is not just part of vampire folklore, but part of growing up and developing relationships, as in the movie and novel.  The movie is based on the book, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

If a child was stuck forever like, in a 12-year-old existence and had to walk around killing other people and drink their blood to live, what would that child’s existence really be like? If you disregard all the romanticized clichés. And then it struck me when I wrote the book that it would be an absolutelhorrible existence. Miserable, gross and lonely. And hence, the way Eli is depicted. (Lindquist, as quoted in Northlander, 2008)