Review: Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, 2008)

Vampires, snow and a love story. Who’d a thunk those three could be so perfect together?

Screenplay By: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

Every once in a while a movie comes along that knocks you down, lets you get back up and then knocks you down again. Låt den rätte komma in is one such movie. It is relentless in its ability to amaze and touch and draw you into its fictitious universe. I make no bones about the fact that I am a fan of both the horror genre and the vampire sub-genre, and that is why I will tell you that to try and classify Låt den rätte komma in as either of those would be a mistake. It is an unclassifiable movie, it is dark and brooding, full of drama and wonderful visuals but also with children growing up, plenty of violence and fantasy elements. Låt den rätte komma in is a genre buster, but most of all it is a great movie.

Every discussion of Låt den rätte komma in should begin with Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli. Of course I didn’t start our discussion of Låt den rätte komma in with them, so now you all know how much of a hack I am! This is a movie that could have been dead from the get go if not for the powerfully nuanced performances of its two leading child stars. They show a tremendous range of emotion but what most gets to you is the vulnerability that they both show. It’s fitting that in a movie about creatures that drink blood you would have two characters that bare their hearts for everyone to see. They hold nothing back and the result is two of the most genuine performances you will ever witness. It is the quiet moments such as Oskar asking Eli if she wants to go steady with him that get to you. The subtle and sublime moments like that allow the movie to dig deeper into you, to grow and breathe and become a part of you. There aren’t enough words to praise Herr Hedebrant & Fru Leandersson, but you’ll just have to take my word that they were excellent.

The story in Låt den rätte komma in is one that is highly debatable and very open to interpretation. The events are very straight forward, but the reasons for them are never all that clear. Perhaps the scariest feeling that one can get from Låt den rätte komma in is that Oskar will end up just like Håkan, the older man killing for Eli as the movie begins. Eli may truly love Oskar, but maybe she truly loved Håkan at one point and the process of aging and her natural need to kill wore on him until he was more of a slave than a lover. Maybe that is the fate that awaits Oskar. Maybe Eli will continue her lifelong trend of loving her suitor and not realizing just how her love entraps them and doesn’t allow them to live. It is a very terrifying thought indeed. But, the fact that Låt den rätte komma in allows for that bleak ending just as much as it does for the ending where Oskar and Eli are in a happy love is a sign of its greatness.

A movie like Låt den rätte komma in doesn’t come along every day, it is profound, delightful, sad, optimistic and pessimistic. Låt den rätte komma in is everything that you could ever hope for in a movie, and it is a movie that everyone owes it to themselves to see. Hunt it down if you have to, and you most likely will have to, but don’t let this little gem slip away from you. You would deeply regret that, trust me.

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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5 responses to “Review: Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, 2008)

  1. I completely agree that the interpretation is key with this movie. The ending can be looked at as sad, and Eli as manipulating Oskar into being her new caretaker, but there is also the symbolism of the morse code communication, as if Eli may have found someone who understands her situation in a way that no one had before. She is very shut off to the character of Hakan, and seems at the beginning to be just as cold to Oskar, but little by little, he wears her down. It’s hard to say. But the strength of the movie is that you really hope that the pattern doesn’t repeat. You hope for the best for them, and I don’t find myself feeling that way about most movie characters after the lights come up.

  2. I’ve seen this film twice. It’s okay. I never quite fell for the characters like most have and I still find good chunks of this film dull to watch. I actually like the remake more for tightening up the story.

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  5. Sherlock – Hoping for the best is a great way to describe the ending. I too find myself hoping for the best, but in the end I don’t think the best outcome is what will really happen. That doesn’t detract from the film in any way, in fact I find that it actually adds to the richness of the film.

    James- I thought the remake was okay, but that it changed key elements, and not for the better. It is leaner, but its leanness comes from a lack of story and a lack of dedication to its characters. Okay stuff, but the original blows the remake out of the water in my estimation.

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