I first saw this movie during a ladies night with Zoombear and her ex about 3 years ago. I remember really liking it because it was actually released before Twilight (and btw, fuck Twilight) so the whole vampire/human love connection hadn’t been completely exploited, and I thought there was something sweet (although at the same time very disturbing) about the fact it was between a misfit kid and a child vampire. That is, until I watched it the second time and also enlisted the help of Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Right_One_In_(film), and realized the whole thing was kind of depressing and disturbing.
The film highlights the issues of a 12 year old Swedish boy named Oskar, living outside of Stockholm with his mother in the early 1980’s (although I had no idea until I read the wiki entry that it was supposed to be the 80’s, I honestly thought everyone in the outskirts of Sweden dressed like that). From the get go, you can’t really tell if he’s bullied because he stands in front of his window at night in his underwear pretending to stab people and talking to himself, or if that’s the result of the effects of the bullying. Sort of like a pre-Columbine chicken or the egg scenario. Initially, I thought that his bullies weren’t so bad, at least not as bad as American bullies, because in the first scene of their interaction, all they did was tap his nose and snort at him. I was ready to make my own “ It get’s better, especially if you move to Sweden” campaign, until later on in the film when they whip him with a stick, and enlist the older brother of “ Conny”, the main and most dangerous bully (in which of course a boy named Conny would be a bully, because it’s clearly a girls name) to try and drown Oskar. Although the bullying really seems to be passively facilitated by the teachers, especially in one scene where Oskar’s teacher hightails it out of the classroom as fast as she can at the end of the day, leaving him in the school on his own, when evidently it get’s pitch black at 3pm in Sweden. All the school/bullying scenes in this movie seemed like an American personal injury lawyer’s wet dream.
Oskar doesn’t have any friends, and spends a lot of time in his apartment’s court yard playing with his Rubik’s cube, until one day a mysterious 12 year old girl named Eli moves into the apartment next door to Oskar’s and they strike up a friendship. She says the standard cryptic hinty vampire stuff like “ I’m 12 years old more or less” “ No I don’t have a birthday” etc. but because it’s in Swedish and this was before it was cliché, you buy it and immediately infinitely like her more than pretty boy Robert Pattinson. They keep hanging out in the apartment courtyard, while the creepy old man that Eli lives in the apartment with goes out and tries to murder people to get Eli blood, although he’s really bad at it. He decides to murder one guy In the middle of a park with people walking around, so obviously that goes wrong, and then Eli gets pissed at him and starts killing people herself. A crazy reclusive man with 15 cats sees her murdering one of the local and popular drunks, and decides to tell the guy’s friends about the murder, but refuses to go to the police, and no one else thinks to do this, shattering all the previous scenes where they attempt to make Sweden look like the paragon of socialism and morality. After the creepy old man (who according to Wikipedia in the novel version was a pedophile, but they decided to take that out of the film) fails at an attempted murder, he realizes he sucks, and pours hydrochloric acid on his face. Eli goes to the hospital to visit him wearing no shoes, and the nurse never thinks to ask her why she’s wearing no shoes in the middle of the night/winter in Sweden and why a 12 year old would be wandering around alone. The Swedish CPS of old must be just as bad as ours. Creepy old man offers himself up to Eli, she drinks his blood, and he falls out of the window and dies. Eli then goes to spend some quality time with Oskar by floating up to his bedroom window where he is inside asleep. She tells him he must invite her in, he does, and she gets naked and crawls into bed with him. This is one of those scenes that initially comes off as really sweet and heart warming, until you realize that even if both of the kids were really 12 (the vampire is at least 100 years old, which brings in another level of potential vampiracal pedophilic ick) they’re way too young to be spooning in bed naked. However, I can appreciate the sentiment, and I know Europeans are way more sexually open-minded than us, which I like and is why I like dating them. It gets even better when Oskar asks Eli if she would like to go steady, to which she replies that she’s not a girl, which follows up on an earlier scene where Eli asks if Oskar would like her as much if she weren’t really a girl. Oskar intimates that it doesn’t matter, which has the LGBT side of me cheering with glee, but realistically knows that a majority of 12 year old heterosexual boys in the 80’s would jump out of the bed screaming if the naked girl they were spooning with sprung that on them like that.
Their relationship keeps gets strengthened even after Oskar finds out that Eli is a vampire, and sneaks a peek at her scarred and mangled genitalia while she is changing clothes after having attacked someone for more blood. The first time I saw the film I didn’t even know what was happening when they showed us that or if I had even seen that correctly until Zoombear screamed “Whoa, that’s some Somalia shit!!!” Which made me realize, yes, they actually went there. However, I didn’t even know where “there” was, until I read Wikipedia and it explained that in the book Eli is presented, “… as an androgynous boy, castrated centuries before by a sadistic vampire nobleman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Right_One_In_(film)#Plot). Dunno how we were supposed to figure that out, but there it is folks. So more people keep getting murdered, and Eli explains to Oskar that she wants to keep being with him, but he’s going to have to be cool with all the murdering going on around him, and may even have to start killing for her. He seems kind of off put by this, but not enough to dissuade you from becoming scared of him. He tries to process all this, and then takes a break to go to his after school fitness class. While there, the bullies and Conny’s older brother go to the pool where he’s working out, to try and extract revenge for Oskar’s finally standing up to Conny in an earlier scene, where Oskar splits Conny’s ear open with a pole after Conny had threatened him. Oskar enables the bullies by voluntarily offering to be drowned, until Eli shows up and kills all of the bullies, except one that cried all the time throughout the whole film. Cut to the next scene where Oskar is calmly and happily sitting on a train, bags backed, with a big box next to him, where Eli is hidden inside. They tap “ small kiss” to each other in Morse code. End film.
Now, the first time I saw this and thought “What an amazing and heart rendering ending.” I don’t know how I glossed over the fact that 3 children were just murdered, in front of a witness, and I thought that this would all turn out ok. As a girl, I was like “ Aww love story” and again this was pre Twilight hysteria (did I mention fuck Twilight?) so I thought the ending was pretty cool. Until I realized tonight that poor Oskar was going to turn into the creepy old man, and Eli was pretty much just using him, which made freaking misogynistic stalker Edward Cullen look like a prince on a white horse out of a Taylor Swift song. Eli never ages, Oskar will. Hence, he’s perpetuating creepy old man cycle until Eli finds someone younger and fresher. Man, what a bummer. No wonder Twilight took off and this didn’t. Although they did re-make this into an American version like only a year later, very originally titled “ Let Me In” which pissed me off, cause you know that version was going to be crap. Anyway, still a really well made film; acting was great, and again, kind of sweet if not disturbing and depressing at the same time. I guess all good films kind of are.
Written by BurritoLvr