LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) – The Dungeon Review!

I was left a suggestion to check out Let The Right One In a couple of weeks ago and was surprised I hadn’t already posted a review for it. This is actually my third viewing of the film, which I had originally caught at the 2008 Vancouver International Film Festival. Vampires have long been one of my favourite horror sub-genres, but good vampire films are very few and far between. Vampire flicks like Let The Right One In definitely don’t come along nearly often enough. The film is intelligent, gorgeously filmed, well acted and completely engrossing from beginning to end. For a film featuring two pre-teens as lead characters it boasts an amazingly mature and richly layered story. While it does explore pre-teen angst issues like bullies and crushes, Oskar and Eli are anything but A-typical examples of their peers.

Oskar is a pale, awkward pre-teen who is bullied at school and travels back and forth between divorced parents. He dreams of revenge against his tormentors, practices using his knife on a tree and keeps a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of grisly murders. One evening as Oskar is sitting alone outside he meets Eli, who has just moved in next door. Oskar seems to recognize that like himself the mysterious Eli is a loner. Eli smells strange, appears to be impervious to the Swedish winter weather and only comes out to play at night. Although Eli tells Oskar during their first meeting that she cannot be his friend, she appears the next evening knowing full well that Oskar will be there. As a friendship begins, lives are ending violently. Victims have been found hanging from their feet with their throats slashed. Since it is common knowledge that this is a vampire tale I don’t think it would be a spoiler to tell you that the murders are being perpetrated by Eli’s guardian. But the violence definitely takes a backseat in Let The Right One In. The violence is generally obscured from the viewer. You see blood on faces and clothing and pouring into jugs but you don’t get any clear shots of bloodletting. When a horror film has a great story and amazing characterizations getting graphic is not a necessity. I love the gore, (I do call myself goregirl after all) but I felt the violence matched the tone of the film perfectly. The central focus is Eli and Oskar and the killing is an ugly necessity for survival.

Tomas Alfredson takes a very minimalistic approach here with a very simple toned down score and little dialogue. Sound effects and silence are used extremely well. The amazing cinematography creates the perfect mood throughout. I loved the night shots of Eli and Oskar sitting together outside in the snow. The calmness of these scenes is even more breathtaking in contrast to the scenes of violence equally present. The dialog is fluid and realistic but it certainly helps when you have great performances to sell it. Alfredson could not have made a better casting choice with Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson. Kåre Hedebrant plays Oskar with a carefree ease while darkness crosses his path he remains quite calm through it all. He adds his own brand of uniqueness to the stereotypical misfit kid creating a character you empathize with and root for. I felt emotionally invested in Oskar from his first scene where we simply watch him go quietly through his day. Lina Leandersson is stunning in the role of Eli. Eli is mature well beyond her years but still possesses the whims of a typical twelve-year-old girl. Watching Eli’s survival instincts in action is made more powerful because of her lingering human emotions. The two young actors have exceptional chemistry together and contributed immensely to the films effectiveness.

Let The Right One In is a morality tale, an examination of love and friendship, but most importantly, it is a vampire film. Most of the vampire lore used here is of the traditional variety. Eli comes out only at night, has the ability to fly and shimmy up sides of buildings and possesses inhuman strength. She is able to infect others with her bite but prefers to leave her prey dead. There is only one example of a bite victim in the film, but it is a memorable one! Of its many brilliant scenes, one of the best illustrates what happens to a vampire when they enter your house uninvited. Tomas Alfredson does a beautiful job of seamlessly merging the vampire part of the story with the human part of the story. The cherry on top is the perfect ending, which could be conceived as either happy or tragic depending on how you look at it.

Let The Right One In is one of my favourite films, horror or otherwise from the past decade. There was a lot of hype surrounding this film and I actually feel it deserves every last accolade it received. By now, you’ve probably already heard about the American remake Let Me In. How someone could watch this film and come to the conclusion that they could do better is a mystery to me, and remaking it just two years after its release is something I find absolutely repugnant. With hundreds of original flicks to check out I have little interest in remakes but those of you who wander down that road, at least see the original before going to see the American remake! There isn’t a damn thing I would change about this film. Let The Right One In is perfect. Highest of Recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren

8 Responses to “LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Like many foreign films being remade in America, this was definitely a film that stands on its own. The vampire lore is actually more cinematic than traditional. Vampires, in folklore, are not particularly photosensitive and they also do not have to be invited in.

    For as good as the movie is, they left out a whole lot of creepiness and gore. I really do recommend reading it. I doubt the American version will restore anything that was left out, and I’m not looking forward to it, but as with almost all movies based on a book, the book really is the better of the two. That said, the movie is not a bad movie, and Hollywood should keep its talentless hands off.

    • goregirl Says:

      I intended the comment to speak of vampire lore cinematically, I should have been more careful with my wording there! I know zilch about traditional folklore pertaining to vampires or otherwise!

      It is a rare thing indeed when a film based on a book is actually better than its source material. That said, I so thoroughly enjoyed this film that I’m not entirely sure I want to crash the experience by reading the book.

  2. Scott over on AnythingHorror will tell you I’m the go to girl for horrific folklore. lol Vampire lore’s just a little pet peeve of mine.

    I would still recommend the book. I have both the movie and the book, and I don’t plan on getting rid of either. There is some really creepy stuff at the end that I think they should have kept in concerning Eli’s guardian. There’s a sexual perversion subplot that was left out of the movie concerning Eli’s guardian and vampiric parent. I don’t want to give anything away if you do decide to read it, but vampirism isn’t the only thing Eli’s hiding, but certain innuendo that made it into the movie is a lot more clear in the book.

    • goregirl Says:

      Very little is said about Eli and her guardian in the film, but I found the relationship intriguing. How could you not be curious about such a relationship? It was the one aspect of the story I would have liked to see explored. Sexual perversion subplot?! Damn you for putting that in my head! Now I have to know!

      I started reading your webserial this afternoon. I’m at work however and keep getting interrupted. Bloody customers! I can’t wait to read more on the weekend! I’m adding you to the blogroll.

  3. The Film Reel Says:

    This movie was good but it seems to be that everyone is in love with it now. I liked it, it was a good time and a great idea but it didn’t blow me away like it seems to everyone else.

    An American remake will only make the original seem that much better but maybe there’s hope! Chloe Moretz in the role is a good choice and I really like her and it at least shows they’re keeping it in the pre-teen category and not bumping it up to a couple of pretty teen actors and ruining everything right from the start.

    • goregirl Says:

      I must admit, I didn’t know who Chloe Moretz was, I had to look her up on IMDB. I haven’t seen a whole lot of films outside of the horror genre since I started this blog a year and a half ago. Regardless, there’s no performance that is going to sell remakes to me anymore. My own experience with remakes has been morbid disappointment with only very few exceptions. With countless original films yet to see, I just can’t justify time spent on remakes anymore.

  4. I understand them doing a remake of this film because I don’t think a lot of people did or will see the original… which is FANTASTIC. Totally deserves the 5/5.
    The only thing I like about the remake is the casting of Chloe Moretz as the little girl. I think that girl may be the next Abigail Breslin… she’s pretty talented.
    As far as this film, without spoiling anything, the pool scene is FANTASTIC… so subtle and so chilling!!!

  5. Mwahahahaha! I am Eeevil! lol

    Having read the book and seen the movie, at this point I feel like there could have been two movies, one from the Eli/Oskar perspective and one from the guardian’s perspective. There were characters that were removed in conjunction with the guardian’s story that really made the book more horrific than the movie. I was glad they left the cat-attack in, but there were at least two other scenes that I was sorry no to see. There was a particular scene near the end that would have flipped people out. I know it made my skin crawl, and I’m pretty inured to this stuff. 😉

    Thanks for the add. 🙂 I hope you like my webserial. I swear it’s work safe! heh

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