Let the Right One In (review)

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You’ve never seen a vampire movie like this before — that I can promise you. There hasn’t been one like this before. Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, working from an internationally bestselling novel by by John Ajvide Lindqvist [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.] (who also wrote the screenplay) posits befriending a vampire as the cure for what ails lonely, beat-up-on 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant)… sort of. His new neighbor, Eli (Lina Leandersson), who’s also 12 (and has been for a really long time — she’s undead), is full of ideas about how he can defend himself against bullies, though they’re probably not the wisest defenses he could be deploying. Meditative and mournful, this unexpectedly poetic film punctuates its serene atmosphere with shocking moments of unexpected gore, some of which are almost funny in their wildness — cats, it turns out, really don’t like the bloodsuckers — and others of which are so disturbing that they’re gonna keep me awake at night, especially a few moments that highlight how very much normal humans are prey for vampires. This one is slated for a Hollywood remake, so catch the overseas original now, if you can, and see how it’s supposed to be done.

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Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Fri, Nov 21, 2008 5:29pm

Hey! It was on your radar after all, MAJ. Thanks for this review.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Nov 21, 2008 5:33pm

It wasn’t until after I said it wasn’t. :->

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Fri, Nov 21, 2008 5:46pm

Whatevs. Great minds think alike :)

Tonio Kruger
Sun, Nov 23, 2008 9:23am

I’m glad you changed your mind.

It would have been all so ironic if one of the few film critics who didn’t review a Swedish horror film turned out to be a person named Johanson.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sun, Nov 23, 2008 2:41pm

But I’m not Swedish. I’m American.

And honestly, the only reason I reviewed this is because one of the newspapers that runs my reviews asked for it. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to it otherwise.

JoshDM
JoshDM
Mon, Nov 24, 2008 1:25pm

Herde berde wampire, bork bork bork!

livia
livia
Wed, Nov 26, 2008 8:07pm

This is a gorgeous, disturbing and moving film. Go see it before they cast Dakota Fanning in the remake.

Doa766
Doa766
Tue, Dec 23, 2008 1:38am

[[added by maj: this comment contains a major spoiler]]

“His new neighbor, Eli (Lina Leandersson), who’s also 12 (and has been for a really long time — she’s undead)”

she’s not undead, HE’s undead

Eli is a boy

but don’t worry, about half of the people who see the movie fail to notice that

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Tue, Dec 23, 2008 2:48pm

Yeah, I noticed it, Doa. I was trying not to spoil it for everyone who hadn’t seen the film.

Nice goin’.

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Tue, Dec 23, 2008 4:12pm

MAJ – I only read your last comment and then hid my eyes from the previous one – can you now delete the spoilerish comment?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Wed, Dec 24, 2008 10:07am

I’m not going to delete the spoilerish comment because I’d like to discourage others from posting similar comments in the future, and the illustration of the comment itself really is required. But I added a spoiler warning to that comment.

Doa766
Doa766
Thu, Dec 25, 2008 1:12am

is not a spoiler because it doesn’t affect the plot in any way

is as much as a spoiler as saying he’s a vampire

Doa766
Doa766
Thu, Dec 25, 2008 1:53am

and actually you would probably like this movie a whole lot more if you go in without knowing that one of the main characters is a vampire

and you gave that away on the review, the fact that all other reviews give that away too is no excuse, you won’t fine it on the movie poster, trailer or on the back of the original novel, it’s a plot development that it’s not known from the beginning

knowing that Eli is boy is just trivia because, like I said before, most people who see the movie fail to noticed it, and it doesn’t make much difference on the story, but knowing he’s a vampire IS a spoiler

the screenplay was written by the author of the novel and on the novel you know Eli is boy from the first time he’s mentioned, but not that he’s a vampire, and the movie was meant to be the same but whe you actually see the actor playing the character the ambiguity is much harder to get across and they try by casting a girl with an androgynus look

so don’t talk to me about spoilers

and if you can’t write a review without mentioning that then take a note from AICN where they mark the links of the reviews with a spoiler tag so you’re warned about it if you click on it

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Fri, Dec 26, 2008 9:53am

Doa766:

Traditionally, I am not one to jump all over another poster, but:

From IMDB tagline description: “Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire.” That’s it.

The creators of the movie approved that blurb. Which quite clearly does not give away all the details you did in your MULTIPLE spoilerish postings.

How about this: I don’t want or need to know every bit of information about the characters before I see a movie. I don’t think it’s up to YOU to decide what everybody else should know about a film prior to seeing it.

I don’t know what your motivation is for this kind of trolling and I really don’t care. You are ruining things for other people, even if YOU don’t think you are. Trust me, YOU ARE.

Cut it out.

JoshB
JoshB
Fri, Dec 26, 2008 12:21pm

Generally speaking, if the information isn’t in the trailer or press info for the movie then it’s a spoiler.

I don’t know how easy it would be to implement, but an html spoiler tag would be most useful for this sort of site.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Dec 26, 2008 2:28pm

I *have* posted spoiler warnings when I feel that I cannot discuss a movie without spoiling something. I did not feel the need to do so in this case, because I did not spoil anything.

“OMG, vampires!” is not a spoiler for this movie. I think it does spoil something, though, to reveal what Doa revealed. Not irrevoccably: don’t avoid this movie because you learned something about that you perhaps shouldn’t have. But still: This isn’t a movie about plot. It’s a movie about emotion. And that revelation will change how you view the movie the first time you watch it.

JoshB
JoshB
Fri, Dec 26, 2008 7:38pm

I *have* posted spoiler warnings

I dunno know if you were talking to me or Doa there, but just in case…I was referring to spoiler /spoiler tags that can be used in the comment section to black out text until it’s highlighted by the reader (or something similiar.)

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sat, Dec 27, 2008 1:40am

Ah. But that still wouldn’t help if someone doesn’t think they’re spoiling.

Doa766
Doa766
Sat, Dec 27, 2008 2:04am

from roger ebert’s review of this movie:

(http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081111/REVIEWS/811129995/1023)

“They decide to have a sleepover in his bed. Sex is not yet constantly on Oskar’s mind, but he asks, “Will you be my girlfriend?” She touches him lightly. “Oskar, I’m not a girl.” Oh.

Oskar is cruelly bullied at school by a sadistic bully, who travels with a posse of two smaller thugs and almost drowns him in a swimming pool. At a time like this, it is useful to have a vampire as your best pal. A girl vampire or a boy vampire, it doesn’t really matter.”

what did I revealed?

Doa766
Doa766
Sat, Dec 27, 2008 2:19am

it’s very difficult for movies to keep important things hidden and really surprise the audience nowdays, people who will see this movie on cable late at night without knowing anything about it will find it more special because they didn’t know that Eli is a vampire, the movie is designed for people to gradualy become aware of that, and it won’t make difference for them the gender of one character

but usually critics who have hard time writing reviews try to padd them with as much re telling of the plot as posible to hide the fact that they don’t have much to say, and they spoil things

if you see terminator 2 now you’ll notice that first 20 minutes or so are built to make people relate to the T1000 (was kind to the parents, seemingly stol a poclicar by punching the cop on the belly) and fear arnold (destroyed a bikers bar), so it was meant to be a huge revelation when he says “get down” on that hallway to John Connor and shoots the real bad guy, but it didn’t work because everyone already knew he was the good guy because of poorly written reviews among other things

if you still disagree, answer this: for someone who doesn’t know anything about the movie what would it be a bigger spoiler and affect their enjoyment, knowing that Eli is really a boy or a knowing he’s a vampire? (only two posible answers)

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Sat, Dec 27, 2008 3:47pm

(Throws hands up in exasperation) – I give up.

John
John
Sun, Dec 28, 2008 11:32am

Well, *I* had no idea about that particular detail, and I haven’t seen the movie yet. And I feel that that revelation was supposed to be something important. So thanks for killing that part for me, Doa766.

And you seem to be justifying your actions with ‘well, Roger Ebert did it too!’. That does not make it right or justifiable. There’s a reason I don’t read Ebert’s reviews, he has a habit of doing this. I read MaryAnn’s reviews because she NEVER does that without a fair warning. I guess now I have to avoid the comments sections of her reviews until I’ve seen the movie in question, too.

Doa766
Doa766
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 1:01am

John:

Ebert did it because it’s not a spoiler, see the movie and you’ll understand that what you’d have wish not to know already is the vampire thing, and you’ll see that boy thing hardly matters at all

“she’s undead” wrote Maryann on the review, now that’s both a spoiler and wrong and the same time

Doa766
Doa766
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 1:06am

of course, for a movie exec (and dumb people in general) the only way to sell this movie is with the vampire angle but that would attract the wrong audience, the hostel/underworld audience, they would be bored by it and won’t recommend it

the audience for this movie is the same people who loved lost in translation, in the mood for love and even amelie, that kind of audience would make it much more succesful, but they didn’t see it because all they know about it’s a poster of a kid covered in blood and that it has vampires

Doa766
Doa766
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 1:19am

Anne-Kari:

don’t give up, instead explain to me why “boy” is spoiler and “vampire” is not

maybe I’m missing it and somehow ELI being a boy has some kind of transcendence that overshadows him being a vampire in terms of the narrative, because I thought it didn’t make any diference

or maybe you just can’t accept that something believed by a majority is wrong

let me put it this way:

“she’s undead”: spoiler and misinformation

JoshB
JoshB
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 1:05pm

@Doa766: Are you just trolling now?

Anne-Kari doesn’t have to explain anything to you. All she has to do is say she doesn’t want to hear it. For any person with a modicum of courtesy that would be enough.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 3:59pm

Yeah, honestly, folks: Whether you think something is a spoiler or not, have a bit of courtesy and give a warning if you’re going to post a potential spoiler in the comments here.

And here’s why “vampire” isn’t a spoiler and “boy” is: Even if you know absolutely nothing about this movie, from the opening seconds, you know it’s about either actual vampires in the supernatural sense or some crazy-ass people who just like to consume human blood. So you have a certain footing upon which to approach the rest of the story. What you do not have, from those opening seconds, is any idea that gender issues might come into play. So: vampire = not a spoiler. She’s a man, baby = spoiler.

I don’t see what Ebert has to do with any of this.

NR
NR
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 9:25pm

I haven’t seen the movie yet (I’ve got the DVD pre-ordered), but I have read the book and I know enough about the movie to know it follows the book fairly well. Eli is not actually a boy anymore; the vampire that turned Eli sexually mutilated Eli was in the process…Sort of a vicious sex-change. The human boy that Eli was became a sexless vampire, neither boy nor girl nor human. Therefore, one can legitimately describe Eli as either a boy or girl. In the book, Eli says to Oskar, “I’m nothing,” in regards to gender.

I personally don’t think knowing Eli is a vampire is a spoiler, and I don’t think knowing Eli is sexually ambiguous is a spoiler. The subtle, effective way the relationship between Eli and Oskar unfolds onscreen is such that by the time it’s obvious that the two love each other, this is all that matters.

That’s how I see it anyway. What can I say? I’m a die-hard romantic. :)

JoshB
JoshB
Thu, Jan 01, 2009 3:12am

What. The. Hell.

You respond to this conversation about spoilers and how bad they are by providing yet more spoilers?

You’re melting my brain.

Tonio Kruger
Fri, Jan 02, 2009 5:36pm

What. The. Hell.

You respond to this conversation about spoilers and how bad they are by providing yet more spoilers?

No doubt the inevitable response to JoshB’s all too valid complaint will be a Television Without Pity-style recap of the whole movie…

JoshDM
JoshDM
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 5:54pm

I was looking forward to watching this movie on DVD this weekend.

Now I have a reason to catch these things in the theatre.

ms
ms
Fri, Apr 17, 2009 4:47pm

I have a suggestion – make two threads. One for before watching the film and one for after, because I’m dying to know loads more about it and can’t find any explanations on the web, but also don’t want to annoy those who haven’t seen it. Maybe you could post a url of more explanations if you know one? Thanks!

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sat, Apr 18, 2009 10:00am

Just a big, clear spoiler warning at the top of your comments, so those who haven’t seen the film know to avoid it.

(And I’m hoping to able to implement threaded comments some day. Then we’ll be able to have multiple conversations about a post without running into this issue.)

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Sat, Apr 18, 2009 1:16pm

A warning to those who would rent this on iTunes: IT IS DUBBED, BADLY on iTunes. I mean really, really badly.

amanohyo
amanohyo
Sun, Apr 19, 2009 3:03pm

Hilariously badly, or does it not quite qualify as “so bad it’s good?”

Anne-Kari
Anne-Kari
Sun, Apr 19, 2009 5:21pm

No, just really, really badly dubbed. It makes it unwatchable, and not in a funny way – it just sucks. Rent the dvd (check the case first, some editions are also dubbed) or catch it at a local art theater.

Pedro
Pedro
Thu, May 07, 2009 7:13am

first time watching, first few scenes:

do we know Eli is a vampire? yes. we see him/her bite a guy and kill him.

do we know his/her sex? no. in one scene, he/she is wearing a frilly PINK sweater, for chrissakes!!

therefore, we know what’s a spoiler and what isn’t. when i first read the description for this, it contained the word ‘vampire’, but it mentioned Eli as being a girl.

by the way, i really didn’t like this movie all that much. if you want good Norse ghost stories for kids, go see “No Network”. it won the Junior Award in this year’s Indie Lisbon film festival, much as “Let The Right One In” did last year. except it’s way better.

and is it just me, or is our main character more of a girl than his allegedly-female vampire friend?!

Anna
Anna
Mon, Jun 08, 2009 12:58am

Did anyone think Eli was just using Oskar to replace her “dad.” it seemed she had her dad as a human servant to take care of her. Maybe she seduced him when he was also 12 and he grew with time. She pulls oscar in only when this human helper dies making me beleive poor oscar is just her new servant in training (I e helping her travel by train at the end). How could a 100 year old vampire fall for a 12 year old boy? This is my take on it.

Nayan
Nayan
Sun, Jul 05, 2009 12:56am

*SPOILER ALERT*

Anna:

Firstly, what they heck? Most of the comments posted here are about not revealing plot points and you reveal the end?!

Secondly, I agree. I saw her as one of the most calculating and cunning movie characters in a long time. It seemed that her “Dad” was getting old and sloppy and it was time to groom a new “helper”. Maybe calculating enough to even cultivate the appearance of being a girl because that would help to lure in victims and get men to help protect her. (I say this from not having read the book and just going by the movie). No romantic story here. Just an old creature of evil and a vulnerable boy.

Marina
Marina
Wed, Aug 12, 2009 5:05pm

Doa766:

i´m an underworld fan and i loved let the right one in, what you said about underworld fans is offensive for me.

Newbs
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 10:55am

**SPOILERS**

Anna, I know your comment is a couple months old now, but that’s kind of the entire point of the movie… :)

And I gotta say, I saw this a while ago, with the proper subtitles even, and I had no idea Eli was a boy until I read the comments here just now. I may watch it again just to see if it makes a difference, and to try and figure out how I missed that in the first place.

Right now I can’t figure out if it changes the film for me; I think maybe it doesn’t.