Let the Right One In, (originally Låt den Rätte Komma In), is a 2008 romance/drama film. It stars Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar, a bullied shut-in of a child, and Lina Leandersson as Eli, a vampire who eventually befriends Oskar. Apart from a couple of subplots, I more or less just described the plot of the entire film. That’s kind of interesting, as the basic plot is one of the most basic I’ve seen in a film.
I am not saying that a simple story is a bad thing, and in this case, I’m sure it isn’t. In fact, with the story staying as simple as it is, it allows the viewer to focus more on the details of the film. This ends up working to the film’s advantage, because the details are what really make the film worth watching. It’s in these details that you can really tell that effort was put into making the story feel alive, as well as forcing you to care about the characters that are in it.
The characters of Oskar and Eli are almost entirely opposite from one another. Oskar is shy, weak, and always following the lead of others, while Eli is independent, assertive and strong. They truly are two sides of the same coin, and the film relays this to us over its duration. It actually does take a fair bit of time for their friendship to blossom, making the slow pacing of the film even more evident.
The movie may have quite slow pacing, but being slow does not mean it is bad. The slow pacing really works in a film like this, where the characters and the relationship between them is the primary focus. There really isn’t a big action scene, meaning the pacing never gets thrown out of whack. It stays slow the entire time, allowing for the character development mentioned above. I do however feel that the pacing doesn’t allow the film to be that scary, meaning that there is a slight misconception that needs to be cleared up about it.
Let the Right One In should not be considered a horror film. It simply isn’t scary, primarily due to the fact that everything is done in a slow and leisurely manner. There isn’t really room for psychological horror, or even jump scenes. They wouldn’t really fit with the tone the film takes on. Director Tomas Alfredson understands this, and thankfully doesn’t include anything that would upset the mood of the film. Any pretense of horror that the film has comes in the form of disturbing imagery in regards to some of the things that Eli does for blood. There are times when it becomes a bit difficult to watch, but there never really is a time where there is anything all that frightening. The only tension that either of the main characters faces comes in the form of a powerful ending. While not all that much of a problem, I feel that real tension would have helped bring across the relationship between the two characters even more.
The budding relationship between Eli and Oskar is basically the only thing that keeps the film going. If nothing else, the film is one-noted, with there never really being much more than watching two children form a meaningful relationship. They both appear unaware of what society dictates relationships to be, so instead they just decide to do what feels right. They don’t even know what “going steady” means, but decide to do so anyway, as it feels like the proper thing to do. Oskar doesn’t even figure out Eli’s true identity until very close to the end of the film, but at that point doesn’t really care what the vampire’s true identity is. He’s basically fallen in love, and nothing anyone says seems to mean anything to him.
Right after watching this film, I was unable to figure out what it did right, or even what was wrong with it. It was simply an experience to me, and only after I began breaking it down did I really figure out what made it special. I knew that it was well acted, and I appreciated the way the simple story was told, but I didn’t really get a good feel for the movie until after I had thought about it for a good amount of time. That’s really what Let the Right One In has to offer. Initially, you might not see what is all that good about it. In fact, you might not even like it. It will stay with you though, as most good movies do. After giving it some thought, you may bring yourself to like, or even love the film. Just like the story, the film itself will require some time to be fully appreciated. It will definitely be a film you can’t stop thinking about, and may end up sticking with you far longer than you anticipate.