blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Let the Right One In (2008, Tomas Alfredson)

I wonder how Let the Right One In would work if it made any sense. There aren’t exactly plot holes so much as nonsensical details. Why a vampire–even if she is stuck as a twelve-year-old–would want to hang out with other twelve year olds is never explained. Her assistant, who drains blood from bodies for her, might be the most incompetent murderer ever committed to celluloid. He’s a moron. He kills people in public places. He’d have to be more experienced at it. He’d have to be successful at it. And there’s not a single hint of previous competency (or success).

As these problems compounded, I decided Let the Right One In is of a hipster, vampire Harry Potter–but then I realized it isn’t for kids and Harry Potter is, decidedly, intended for kids. Let the Right One In is intended for a broad audience, sure, but I don’t think kids.

One of the inherent dilemmas of the vampire story is the lore. What gets in. The title refers to vampires not being allowed into a domicile without invitation. The film’s got a rather visual effect for what happens when they try it. It’s an awkward scene, maybe necessary to clear up some threads, but certainly not affecting. The film’s emotional obtuseness is one of its more peculiar features. Bullied Kåre Hedebrant is a movie psychopath in training–the film’s easy out, Hedebrant imagining vampire girlfriend Lina Leandersson and being himself responsible for brutal murders, remains an untraveled path (probably too Martin anyway, but comparing the two films doesn’t do Right One any favors)–I’m sure it never even occurred to the filmmakers that route might be more narratively sound, especially given the film’s ending.

So, while he’s bullied, his constant junior Travis Bickle moments–and his easy acceptance of vampire Leandersson, who–as nice as she is to him when no one else is (the relationship with the father is incredibly strange, like they left out a scene)–does murder innocent people. She doesn’t even appear to feed on the bad ones.

But the film doesn’t even explore this notion of the bullied kid being so listless, even a vampire confidante is better than no confidante at all. The film doesn’t even explore the rather obvious possibility Leandersson’s middle-aged, blood-letting “father” might have started out in a similar relationship as the one Hedebrant shares with her. It’s like no one sat down and thought about the film very hard. If someone had, it probably would have been a lot better.

Hedebrant’s fine. He manages to get sympathy while still being somewhat disturbing. Not being Swedish, I don’t know if bullies regularly end up murdering their bullied classmates. It doesn’t seem very realistic, but I don’t really dig what happens when vampires enter uninvited according to the movie either. But given the film rewards the murdering of bullies… maybe thinking about it too hard isn’t the point. Maybe thinking about it at all is counter to the filmmakers’ intentions.

Leandersson’s excellent. She has almost nothing to do though, with the script only giving her a couple scenes without Hedebrant being the focus. I never thought Interview with the Vampire would do something better… but there you go.

The source novel–the author adapted it for the film–is apparently a genre book (what’s the Swedish term for supermarket fiction?), but from the looks of the Amazon page… it had a lot more meat to it. The film manages to be anorexic and go on about ten minutes too long, which is a feat of some kind, I suppose.



Directed by Tomas Alfredson; screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel; director of photography, Hoyte Van Hoytema; edited by Daniel Jonsäter and Alfredson; music by Johan Söderqvist; production designer, Eva Norén; produced by John Nordling and Carl Molinder; released by Sandrew Metronome.

Starring Kåre Hedebrant (Oskar), Lina Leandersson (Eli), Per Ragnar (Hakan), Henrik Dahl (Erik), Karin Bergquist (Yvonne) and Peter Carlberg (Lacke).


One response to “Let the Right One In (2008, Tomas Alfredson)”

  1. I thought “Let the Right One In” was excellent, but I see your point about loose ends.

    In my mind, the creepy relationship between Eli and her adult paramour-cum-protector IS suggested — especially with the film’s ending, which (spoiler alert) implies that Oskar is next in line.

    I’m told that the book is a fascinating, disturbing read, with some significant plot differences from the film. You might want to check it out.

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