There are a lot of vampire films in the world. There are even quite a few vampire love stories. But there’s no other film like “Let The Right One In.” With a screenplay by John Avidje Lindqvist that serves as a striking revision of his novel of the same name, the film is both a horror film and a tender story about a romance between a human boy of twelve named Oskar and an immortal girl named Eli who has ‘been twelve for a long time’, yet remains a child in mind and spirit, locked inside an equally unchanging body–kept alive by a thirst for blood.
Eli and Oskar live in the same housing complex in Blackeberg, Sweden, and both are outsiders: Eli, because of her condition–and that really is how the film treats it–and Oskar, because he is a painfully shy, odd-looking boy who is bullied mercilessly at school, and isolated at home by his dysfunctional relationship with his estranged parents. Things are more complicated in the novel, but here, Lindqvist’s script boils the story down to its essence–the evolving relationship between two lonely children, that blossoms from friendship into a kind of doomed adolescent love–more doomed than most.
Lindqvist describes the story as being about “being lifted out of the darkness by love”, and this is true for both Oskar and Eli. Eli helps give Oskar the courage to stand up for himself, and Oskar gives Eli both a sense of her own connection to humanity, someone to care about her (and, potentially, to protect her), and someone to love and be loved by.
To say more would ruin a magical, marvelous film. LTROI was remade in 2009 as “Let Me In”, a British-American coproduction starring Kodi Smit McPhee and Chloe Moretz as the respectively renamed Owen and Abby. The remake is also worth a look, as it preserves the original film’s tenderness while amping up the stereotypical horror elements. But do see the original film first. You won’t forget it.