« | Home | »

Let the Right One In

Tags: | |

Jenny Turner recently wrote in the LRB about Stephenie Meyer’s series of vampire novels and the film based on the first of them, Twilight. ‘”I wish I could be a vampire,” I actually said out loud at one point.’ It’s a sentiment few people are likely to express after seeing Tomas Alfredson’s beautiful and disturbing Låt den rätte komma in, which goes on general release in the UK today as Let the Right One In.

It’s set in a suburb of Stockholm in the winter of 1982. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), an ethereal blond 12-year-old, the only child of separated and neglectful parents, is being bullied at school. Håkan (Per Ragnar), a middle-aged man, and Eli (Lina Leandersson), a girl Oskar’s age, have just moved into the flat next door. At night Håkan heads out into the snow with his sinister leather bag of tricks: a funnel, a mask, a knife, a dirty two-gallon plastic bottle and a jar of nasty looking liquid. He’s an incompetent murderer, repeatedly interrupted in his nocturnal bloodletting. And when he fails to bring home the bacon, Eli has to go out foraging for herself. (‘Are you a vampire?’ Oscar asks her at one point. ‘I live off blood,’ she replies. ‘Are you dead?’ he asks. ‘No. Can’t you tell?’)

She is a monster, of course, but like all the best monsters in the movies, she’s one you find yourself rooting for. Not because you see the world through her eyes, but because you see it through it Oskar’s. And as far as he’s concerned, the boys who torment him at school are the monsters, while Eli, who befriends and protects him, is more like an angel. As the story unfolds, however, it gradually becomes apparent that Eli is grooming Oskar for a wretched future. Near the beginning of the film, Håkan tells her to stay away from the boy. It’s all too easy to mistake his motives for jealousy.

Håkan goes out collecting blood for Eli because if she bites people she infects them with her vampirism; his draining the victims first is a form of damage limitation. She doesn’t want to kill people or turn them into vampires; she just needs to eat. An adult woman bitten by Eli chooses to kill herself rather than live as a vampire. It’s not a choice that ever seems to have crossed Eli’s mind.

Comments on “Let the Right One In”

  1. Thomas Jones says:

    Michael Wood has reviewed the movie in the latest LRB (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n09/wood01_.html). It’s interesting he thinks Hakan is Eli’s father. That’s what the neighbours assume too. But she’s in fact much older than he is. How else did she get her Faberge egg?

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Delaide on Inauguration Day: I know it's not cool to praise Obama, or HRC for that matter. But in the context of what's possible in American politics, I think he did a remarkable ...
    • trumpaverse on The Nightmare Begins: It's not an incipient nightmare anymore: it has arrived. I did much searching this sad evening to locate something online to help me deal with my an...
    • suetonius on He won, won, won: You know what's funny? In Trump's description of the Twilight Zone episode, the guy dies in an accident. Actually, he's shot by the police. I find ...
    • melsumar on At the Gogol Centre: Several years ago I took a group of sixth formers to The Tempest in Russian. It turned out to be brilliant, especially for making them realise the phy...
    • Graucho on Inauguration Day: In a just world the Iran Contra affair would have had Reagan impeached and imprisoned, but it isn't a just world.

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement