Article written

  • on 29.09.2010
  • at 09:53 PM
  • by The Editor

Five Things about Let The Right One In (2008) 2

Sep29

Immortality has its price. The quest for the fountain of youth has been around for centuries and millennia. It was said that drinking from it will grant one longer life, devoid of all human degenerations. But hidden in mythical stories, folklores, and mystery books, the quest of the elusive elixir may have ended after all. To the creatures who were blessed and cursed to be forever young, human blood is the answer. Welcome to the world of vampires. Let’s begin one of our story in the frosty landscape of Sweden.

Lonely 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) gazed upon the window, his pale and soft features reflected on the transparent glass in front of him. His eyes, fixated on the view below. Twelve-year-old Eli (Lina Leandersson) and a middle-aged man moved out of the car. It was deep in the night, when the pair moved in to Oscar’s apartment complex.

The blond haired Oskar’s day in bright sunlight was never a good one. In school, the boy was constantly bullied by Conny (Patrik Rydmark) and his two drones. He didn’t have friends, he didn’t have anything to look forward to. He went home everyday to an empty house. His parents had divorced, and his mother was still at work. The quiet boy channeled his anger and frustration through the tip of a knife, cursing at trees and empty air. He imagined that one day, he will defeat Conny for good. The pain of enduring mental and physical abuse had lead him to depression.

Meanwhile, in the heavily boarded apartment next door, Eli’s companion, Håkan (Per Ragnar) was preparing his kit for the night. One included a sharp long knife. Tonight, he’s out for a hunt. The slow and depressive mood of the movie stopped here, when Håkan had taken hostage of a young man. Tied upside down to a tree, the middle-aged man slit his victim’s throat and tapped his blood. Too bad, he nearly got caught. He then had to come home empty handed, to a hungry vampire.

On one cold night, Oskar and Eli met each other. The lonesome pair soon developed friendship. Eli, an old-aged nocturnal creature trapped in a teenager’s body, found comfort with the trusting and mild-mannered Oskar. The unlikely friendship between a predator and its prey, has just begun.

Let The Right One In, or Låt Den Rätte Komma In, was released in 2008. Originally, it was a book of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also adapted the literary work into a screenplay. Under the direction of Tomas Alfredson, the grim story turned into a critically acclaimed motion picture.

The movie’s plot revolved around the connection of human boy Oskar, and centuries-old vampire Eli. The two met night after night, sharing their stories and secrets. Eli would watch him behind the glasses of school gym’s window, and Oskar would tap messages through the thin walls of their apartment in Morse codes. Ultimately, the two characters developed feelings for each other, and Oskar asked Eli whether they could go steady. Even after knowing that Eli is a vampire, Oskar never hesitated.

The use of various materials to divide them in scenes where Oskar and Eli met each other, signified that they lived on different worlds. If such barrier was not used, other visual description like Eli’s thin clothes, being barefooted on cold winter night, dripping bloods on the lip, or simply the mysterious aura that surrounds Eli made it more apparent that the movie tried to remind the audience that however tame Eli was to Oscar, the character’s basic needs for fresh blood differentiate Eli and Oscar fundamentally.

The movie generally moved in a slow pace, with carefully arranged shocking scenes. Unlike most vampire movies, Let The Right One In minimally exploits the gore factor. But, be forewarned, some scenes are very disturbing and hard to forget.

Beside exploring the realm of vampirism, the movie also mentioned some sensitive topics like bullying, divorce, and homosexuality. The themes set the movie’s tone into a more natural atmosphere, where bitter personal tragedies happened daily. The effort to permeate society’s disturbances into this horror tale, made the movie stepped in closer to reality. Every human presence made scenes that involved Eli preying on the member of the community more bone-chilling. Fantasy and reality walked together harmonically, and it’s rarely been executed with such calm and precision that Alfredson possessed.

Lindqvist’s strategy to contrast the day and night scene, also through the appearance of two opposing characters never found problem in terms of transition. Blond haired and fair Oskar sat side by side with dark haired and blood covered Eli. The two represents two sides of a same coin. Darkness and light diffused together, and crept in on every emotional scene that includes them both. And even with such a bizarre storytelling, we still take the movie as a beautiful drama with eerie narrative, and not just another ‘vampire movie‘.

Oskar’s and Eli’s journey to liberation from their personal walls is painted on thick pile of snow, but the heart of the movie is as warm as blood. Oscar found strength to defeat his fears, and Eli was faced with the pleasant opportunity to live another lifetime with a boy who have seen what lies behind the fangs.

These are Five Things about Let The Right One In:

1. JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST

“If a child was stuck forever like, in a 12-year-old existence and had to walk around killing other people and drink their blood to live – what would that child’s existence really be like? If you disregard all the romanticized clichés. And then it struck me when I wrote the book that it would be an absolutely horrible existence. Miserable, gross and lonely.”

John Ajvide Lidqvist started of with a simple premise, and from that simplicity, came Let The Right One In. Lindqvist, born 1968 in Blackeberg, Sweden, is a Swedish novelist and short stories author. Before becoming a published writer, Lindqvist worked for twelve years as a magician and stand-up comedian. As a teenager, Lindqvist used to perform street magic for the tourists walking on Västerlånggatan in Stockholm.

The author who was not an expert in in the horror genre admitted that his first attempt at writing the book was so hard. But then, after he changed his way of looking at creative writing, the story began to flow perfectly. “It’s just about writing the story as effectively as possible. Not worry about the language or that it’s supposed to be literature. I’ll just try to throw in a story that’s as exciting as possible, and heartbreaking, and do it to the best of my ability,” he said.

2. VAMPIRE

Vampires are mythical creatures that had been widely known for a long time. The term ‘vampire‘ was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition from areas where vampire legends were frequent, mostly in Eastern Europe. However, it is Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. Stoker’s vampires are so popular, it still resounds till this date, and inspired the massive growth of ‘vampire culture’ established in fictions and movies.

The first movie about vampire as a main theme was F. W. Murnau‘s silent film, Nosferatu (1922). The movie featured the first film portrayal of Dracula, that inspired other legendary movie, the 1931 Dracula, starring Béla Lugosi as Count Dracula. The continuing popularity of the vampire theme has been ascribed to a combination of two factors: the representation of sexuality and the perennial dread of mortality. Recent famous portrayal of vampires are the Twilight Saga and award winning TV series, True Blood.

3. MORRISSEY

Lindqvist is a devoted Morrissey fan. In interviews he had stated that his debut novel’s Swedish name got its name from the Morrissey song “Let the Right One Slip In”. Furthermore, he stated that his first thoughts when told that Let the Right One In was to be translated into English was that he enjoyed the thought of Morrissey being able to read the book having the name which was borrowed from his song.

The issue of “getting the right one in” was rooted on the vampire mythology, which stated that, vampires can not come into a mortal’s dwelling without being previously invited. One of the scenes in the movie graphically explained the consequences of breaking that law. Being rejected of entrance can cost a vampire his/her life. Hence, humans must ‘let the right one in’ for vampires can be friendly or deadly.

4. LET ME IN

Before the release of Let the Right One In took place, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves had signed to write and direct an English-language version for Overture Films and Hammer Films. Hammer Films acquired the rights at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and Overture films plans to release the film in 2010.

According to Lindqvist, “Reeves will make a new film based on the book, and not remake the Swedish film, and so it’ll be something completely different, but it’s going to be really interesting to see.”

The title of the film was changed to Let Me In, and the names of Oskar and Eli were respectively changed to Owen and Abby. On October 1, 2009, it was confirmed that Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Moretz would be playing the respective roles of Owen and Abby.

5. I’M NOT A GIRL

When Oskar asked if Eli wants to be his girlfriend, Eli simply replied, “I’m not a girl.” We might think that Eli referred the words as not being a girl, because Eli is a vampire. But after doing small research on the book, specifically, about Eli’s personal history pre-mortem, we can understand the statement in its actual context. Eli’s “I’m not a girl” statement simply referred to the actual condition, literally. He is not a girl. Eli was a human boy, but some tragic occurrence in the past made him what he is now. The homosexuality theme in the movie does not singularly referred to Oskar’s father and his male friend, but also with Oskar himself and Eli.

That’s it from Five Things. This article needs more cleaning up, and I promise I’ll do it soon. But, meanwhile, enjoy our reviews. Have fun with the darkness.

Sources:

“The Northlander Sits Down With The Writer Of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN!”
“Let The Right One In”
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Related posts:

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  2. Five Things about The Water (2009)
  3. Five Things You Should See in October 2010
  4. Five Things about Dear Frankie (2004)
  5. Five Things I’ve Learned from Horror Movies

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