Let the Right One In
let the right one in | tomas alfredson | john ajvide lindqvist | kare hedebrant | lina leandersson | per ragnar | vampire | vampires | drama | romance | sweden | henrik dahl | karin bergquist | peter carlberg | ika nord | mikael rahm | karl-robert lindgren
Film: Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar
Now I have to admit, I saw the remake before seeing this original one. I knew at the time of seeing the other one that this did exist and all I ever heard about this film was how good it was. I liked the remake so I really wanted to see this one for awhile. I finally got a chance when I decided to watch winter based horror in December. I have now seen this for a second time as it was on the list for 2008 in the Summer Challenge Series over on the Podcast Under the Stairs I’m participating in. The official synopsis is Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli (Lina Leandersson), a beautiful, but peculiar girl.
This film kicks off introducing us to Oskar. He’s practicing with a knife, almost rehearsing what he would say. We learn the reason for this is that he is being bullied at school. The one leading that is Conny (Patrik Rydmark). There are some really cruel things that are done to Oskar.
Moving into his building is Eli and her father, Håkan (Per Ragner). They are an odd duo and the moment they move in, things are put up in the window. One night while Oskar is practicing outside, Eli comes to talk to him.
We then realize that Eli is a vampire. Håkan tries to protect and keep her safe. He has a way to murder people and drain them of their blood. What I really like about this though is he interrupted the times we see him trying to do this. I read this as he is older so if he was good in the past, he’s losing his touch. Also that killing someone isn’t as easy as it seems.
There is then a night that Eli goes hunting alone, since blood was not brought to her that day. She attacks Jocke (Mikael Rahm), but she is seen by Gösta and his cat. He goes to tell a local man and his crew about what he saw. This other guy is Lacke (Peter Carlberg) and they are out to figure out what is going on. They know that a kid is the one that killed their friend. This crew goes to a local café, I’m assuming every day. They noticed that Håkan is there and not being friendly. Lacke tries to sit with him and he leaves, making them suspicious of him.
During this, Oskar and Eli become friends. She is trying to keep him at a distance, but something happens to Håkan. The closer they become, the more she is trying to help him with his bullying situation. She wants him to become a little like her, where he will defend himself. Things take quite the turn when Oskar learns the truth about his friend and when he does stand up to the bullies.
There’s where I’m going to leave my recap. Something that really struck me about this was the depth of the story. Oskar doesn’t have a lot of friends. He is quite lonely and he is bullied. He is an outcast. His parents are also divorced or just no longer together, so there’s the aspect of growing up in a broken home. Meeting Eli changes all of that. He decides to take a work out in a class they have to get stronger. She actually inspires some confidence in him.
On the other side of this we have Eli, who is an outcast for a different reason. She has been alive a long time and knows that she can’t have friends in the normal sense. When Oskar wants to be with her, she has to warn him that it can’t be. What actually I wonder about was her relationship with Håkan. How old was he when they came in contact. Oskar sees her more as mate where Håkan saw her as a child.
Before moving on though, we also have Oskar’s mother. He is an interesting boy in that he reads newspapers and is fascinated by it. He befriends Eli who is behind the murders that have sprung up. His mother is worried about him being out and this causes rifts between them. There’s also another when he gets in trouble in school. He does the normal thing of protecting the bullies when he gets a cut on his face from them, but they don’t reciprocate. They really can’t, but they do decide to get even.
There’s also the interesting dynamic of Lacke and his crew of people. They come off almost like gangsters, but I really just think it is a group of people that have lived in the same area for awhile and protect their own. Lacke’s girlfriend Virginia (Ika Nord) actually gets bit by Eli, but they interrupt her. This causes him to want to hunt her down even more. On top of that, it shows us more of the vampire rules of the film.
That’s where I want to take this next. The rules of the vampire in this film are traditional. We see that sunlight burns them and there is a great scene of what happens when they are bathed in it. I also love seeing what happens when a vampire comes in without being invited. This is a scene I knew about prior to seeing this and I have to say it was quite iconic.
As to the pacing of the film, I have to say that I didn’t mind it. The film does have more a slow-burn type feel and I think a lot of that comes from the almost 2 hour running time. I do think there could have been some stuff trimmed from the film which would have made it tighter, but that’s not necessarily. This second viewing re-affirms that for me. I do have to say that I loved the climax scene of the film. It was definitely was satisfying to see. The only thing that I think could have been added was a little bit more bullying of Oskar.
For a film that was acted by mostly children, I thought it was solid. I thought Hedebrant was pretty solid. He plays the role quite subdued, but I think that fits the role. He is a product of divorce so he keeps to himself. Because he is a little bit off, he is picked on and I think that influences the way he is. He is searching for someone who will accept him. I was really impressed by Leandersson though. Playing a vampire that has been alive for as long as she has is tough to do as a child. I like the move that the film dubbed over her voice for someone older. That adds a dimension to the character. I think she did a solid job as portraying someone much older than what we see, but longing for the same companionship this boy is. Ragner was solid in the supporting role he has. I’d say overall the rest of the cast round out the film for what was needed.
Effects for the film I thought were good as well. Interesting we really don’t see any physical changes in Eli as a vampire. I like think subtle approach to it. There is a fair amount of blood and I thought that looked good. It has a good color and consistency. The attack scenes are all done practically and looked quite real as well. The scene where Eli comes into Oskar’s apartment was great. I also really like the scene showing what these vampires do when hit with direct sunlight as well. The only drawback I’ve seen is the cats. There’s a scene that they attack and it is done with CGI. I wasn’t the biggest fan there, but it doesn’t ruin it. I should also say the cinematography is on point with how they frame shots as well. The use of mirrors I’m a big fan of.
Now with that said, I was really blown away how good this film is. As I stated above, I had seen the remake first, so I had an idea of where this story was going. I really just liked the depth of the story as well as the characters. For being as long as it was, I thought it was paced well and I never got bored. The acting despite mostly children I thought was solid. The effects were really good. The score of the film really didn’t stand out or hurt the film to me. If you are into vampire films I would definitely recommend this one. I also would recommend it if you want to see something with a relevant and powerful story of finding one’s self and a companion. I do have to warn you, I watched this film in its native language of Swedish with subtitles on. I know there is a dubbed with English, but that’s not the original language as a warning.
My Rating: 10 out of 10