“Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)” is a 2008 Swedish horror film. Set in a suburb of Stockholm in the early 1980s, it depicts a romance between a boy and a vampire child. It is based on the novel of the same name (2004) by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. Directed by Tomas Alfredson. 114 minutes.
In 1982, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a 12-year-old boy, lives with his mother Yvonne (Karin Bergquist) in a housing complex in the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg.
Oskar is routinely bullied by his classmates led by a boy named Conny. He carries a knife in his pocket, and he spends his evenings imagining revenge and collecting press clippings from newspapers and magazines about murders and occult phenomena.
He sometimes comes to see his divorced father, but he is dissatisfied with his father, who stops playing with his son and starts drinking when his friend comes to see him.
Oskar gets to know Eli (Lina Leandersson), a child who appears to be a girl. Eli has recently moved into the next-door apartment with an older man, Håkan (Per Ragnar).
Håkan is collecting human blood for Eli, who is a vampire.
Håkan attacks a boy on a forest road, and he collects the boy’s blood into a poly tank, hanging the boy upside down, but he runs away, leaving the tank, because girls with a dog approach him.
One night, Eli attacks a man named Jocke and kills him by breaking his neck after sucking his blood by biting his neck.
A man named Gösta, who is a recluse living with his many cats, witnesses it from his apartment, but he doesn’t call the police because he hates being questioned by the police.
Håkan abandons Jocke’s body in a lake.
The next day, Gösta visits the scene of the accident with neighboring residents, and they find a trace of blood there. One of the residents, Lacke decides to avenge the killing of Jocke, who was his best friend.
Oskar gradually becomes close to Eli after lending his Rubik’s Cube to Eli. They start exchanging Morse code messages through the wall in the housing complex.
Eli learns that Oskar is being bullied by his schoolmates. Eli tells him to get back at them. Eli says, “I will assist you”. Being encouraged by Eli, Oskar starts training at a sports center after school under the mentorship of a physical education teacher.
Though Eli says to Oskar, “I’m not a girl”, Oskar becomes attracted to Eli.
Håkan tries to collect blood by hanging a boy upside down at a school locker room, but he is about to be discovered by the boy’s friends. Håkan pours concentrated hydrochloric acid onto his own face, and he is arrested on suspicion of attempted murder without being identified.
Eli visits Håkan in the hospital, where Håkan offers his neck to Eli. Eli sucks Håkan’s blood. Håkan jumps out of the 7th floor window and dies.
Eli goes to Oskar’s room and spends the night with him. Oskar asks Eli to go steady with him as his girlfriend, and Eli agrees with him.
School students including Oskar come to the lake for ice skating. Conny says to Oskar that he will make Oskar swim under the ice. Oskar hits Conny on the head with a metal pole. Conny cries, bleeding from his ear. At that time, some students discover Jocke’s body in a frozen state.
Oskar takes Eli to his secret room in the basement, where he proposes that they form a blood bond with each other by mixing their blood. He cuts his hand with a knife. Eli can’t help but lick his blood dripped onto the floor, and Eli flees from the room.
One night, Eli bites the neck of Lacke’s girlfriend Virginia and tries to suck her blood, but Lacke finds it and kicks Eli. Eli runs away.
Virginia visits Gösta’s apartment, where she is bitten by a large number of cats belonging to Gösta. She is taken to a hospital.
Oskar visits Eli’s apartment. He asks if Eli is a vampire. Eli answers that he lives by drinking human blood, and he is 12 years old for a long time.
In the hospital room, Virginia asks her nurse to lift the window shade. The nurse lifts it, and she bursts into flames by daylight.
Eli asks for Oskar when Oskar is at home by himself. Eli asks Oskar for permission to enter his apartment. Eli enters Oskar’s apartment and starts bleeding from the eyes, ears and top of the head because Oskar gave an evasive answer. Oskar gives Eli permission to enter in a hurry.
Eli rinses blood off his body in the bathroom. Oskar finds Eli’s male genitalia has been excised (castrated).
The next day, Lacke breaks into Eli’s apartment, and he discovers Eli asleep in the bathtub. Lacke is about to knife Eli to death. Seeing this, Oskar yells at Lacke to stop. Eli wakes up, bites Lacke’s neck, sucks his blood and kills him.
Eli embraces Oskar, saying thank you. Eli kisses Oskar with his bloodstained lips. After that, Eli disappears from the town.
The next day, the bullies, led by Conny and his older brother Jimmy, lure Oskar out into the swimming pool in the sports center to get back at him. When Oskar is training in the pool, they start a fire to let the teacher outside the pool. Jimmy threatens Oskar to gouge his eyes out with a knife unless he holds his breath underwater for three minutes. Oskar is held underwater by Jimmy and nearly drowns. Then, Eli suddenly appears, and attacks the bullies to save Oskar.
The original novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist is a vampire novel that dealt with social issues, such as social isolation, divorce, alcoholism, school bullying, pedophilia, and murder. It became a bestseller in Sweden.
The original title “Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In)” is derived from the song “Let the Right One Slip In” (1997) by English singer and songwriter Morrissey. It is based on a folklore that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited.
The film version focuses on the romantic relationship between the two leading characters. It is a frightening horror film including shocking scenes, and a touching romance film about a love story of children in social exclusion.
The film won many awards, including Best Narrative Feature at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, and five awards at the 2008 Guldbagge Awards (Swedish film awards).
The 2010 film “Let Me In” directed by Matt Reeves is a remake of this film.