A traditional vampire tale with a twist, Let the Right One In is one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. I missed this flick when it came out in 2008. Long story short, I’m a decade behind. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie with English subtitles. It’s available on Shudder.
The plot: twelve-year old Oskar has problems. His mom works a lot and his dad is absent, both physically and emotionally. A trio of bullies make Oskar’s life a living Hell. At the movie’s start he has serious anger issues, jabbing his knife into trees and keeping a murder notebook. Oskar’s life changes when the girl and her father move into his apartment complex. The girl’s name is Eli, which means ‘my god,’ and she and Oskar become fast friends. Oskar develops a crush on Eli, but his desire to go steady is hampered by the fact that Eli isn’t a real twelve-year old girl. She also isn’t human.
Eli is a vampire who needs human blood to survive and doesn’t waste time with any ‘I only kill bad people’ nonsense. She sends out her familiar, an older man named Hakan, to supply the hemoglobin. When Hakan turns out to be an incompetent murderer Eli has to do the job herself. Eli is a capable killer – at one point snapping an adult man’s neck – but doesn’t like killing.
At Eli’s urging, Oskar stands up to the bullies. He also finds out what Eli is, because that’s not the sort of thing you can hide. Oskar accepts Eli, because Eli is Oskar’s only friend, and Eli is always gentle and kind with him. Still, the trail of bodies grows longer, and they all lead to Eli.
Oskar and Eli are the most sympathetic characters in Let the Right One In. However, Eli does kill seven people, a body count that surprised me. There is a lot of subtext – obvious and hidden – in this movie. Does Eli want a friend or a new keeper? I don’t know, but the stick Oskar uses to defend himself from the bullies is the same stick Hakan uses to hide the body of one of Eli’s kills.