Let The Right One In

Swedish, 2008

Directed by Tomas Alfredson


Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist

115 minutes

Reviewed by Vance Aandahl

Rating (a 1 – 6 scale): 5.5


The best of the actors in the classic vampire films – Max Schreck most notably, but also Bela Lugosi and Klaus Kinski – were geniuses at creeping us out. Interestingly enough, in Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s stylishly filmed Let The Right One In, the vampire is a nice 12-year-old girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson). Eli is sad-eyed, soft-spoken, modest, sensitively aware of other people’s feelings, considerate, and soulful. From start to finish, I wanted to give her a big hug.


It’s the "normal” character, the non-vampire, her 12-year-old friend Oskar, who creeped me out. Oskar (played expertly by Kare Hedebrant) is a solitary social outcast, alienated and withdrawn. When the school bullies pick on him, he lets them do it. He just stands there, making no attempt to flee or fight back.


Once he’s alone, however, Oskar pretends to kill his enemies with a hunting knife that he also uses, from time to time, to cut himself. He hides the knife from his mother, and also hides a notebook he keeps that’s full of newspaper clippings about psychopathic serial killers who torture their victims.


Wan and spectral, with snow-white blond hair and soft white skin, his facial expression frequently blank or oddly inappropriate to the situation, young Oskar appears to be simultaneously both angelic and demented. In several scenes, a weird little smile starts to appear on his face, and for just a moment his eyes radiate a sulfurous malevolence. Hedebrant is an actor with talent far beyond his years. His subtly nuanced performance really chilled me to the bone.


Let The Right One In was adapted for the screen by writer John Ajvide Lindqvist from his novel of the same name. Because of its complexity, Lindqvist had to leave out whole chunks of his novel, but he retained some dandy plot twists. At first I thought I could see exactly where the story was going, but I kept getting fooled. In the end, we learn that although Eli may indeed love Oskar, she also has a use for him. And no, it’s not that she wants to suck his blood. She has another, far worse fate in store for her boyfriend – and he’s perfectly suited for it, the little creep.