Let the Right One In is a supernatural horror film directed by Tomas Alfredson and released in 2008. Widely recognized by cinema buffs, this Swedish film received wide recognition and an American remake. I will be as objective as possible, but this is a notably great film.

Oskar, Kåre Hedebrant, is a bullied boy developing dark and unsettling habits. Lacking a friend and advocate, Oskar embraces darker tendencies. That is until Eli—played by Lina Leanderson—moves into his apartment complex. The two outcasts form a bond, but can it overcome Eli’s secret and Oskar’s growing darkness?

Film Cover

What I like

The cinematography is beautiful. Tomas Alfredson knows how to carry a scene, lingering on moments and providing clues to tell a story with few words needed. The ominous moments build on the tension and add layers of mystery.

John Ajvide Lindqvist, the original author, wrote the script. Enriched with complexity from a writer who truly understands them, each character builds an extra layer to the narrative. While this should be a common standard, most adaptations miss this key concept.

While the writing gives a lot to work with, the actors play their roles near to perfection. I want to give special attention to Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leanderson. Lina Leandersson, specifically, captures an ominous otherworldliness to her role that would be a tall order for any actor regardless of age.

Eli Let the Right One In
Lina Leanderson as Eli

What I Dislike

Tomas Alfredson did a great job capturing many of the book’s complexities, but many moments are misinterpreted due to his subtle approach and direct omissions.

One disappointing omission involves Eli’s representation, which only gets a vague scene. This wasn’t her big mystery, but a fact of the character, respected and confirmed in the books. Many people seem to misinterpret this and other vague moments in specific ways, as if Let the Right One In is implying something else entirely. While not abandoned, it seems there is poor execution. I honestly can’t say if this was due to the material discussed, time restraints, or indifference, but it must be said.

There is a horrific moment of CGI that felt unnecessary. I wouldn’t usually stress this minor point, but it is notably bad when practical effects from lower-budget films have created the same effect with better results.

Final Thoughts

If you are a cinema buff interested in foreign films, Let the Right One In is a must. After reading the book, I was disappointed by the film’s execution of some essential characters. While this tells the same story as the novel, the film picked what it decided to cover and focused on those specifics.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

About the Author

Zeth received his M.A in English with a focus in Creative Writing at CSU, Chico. As a human writer, he published in the 9th volume of Multicultural Echoes, served on the editorial board of Watershed Review, and is a horror reviewer for Haunted MTL. All agree he is a real-life human and not an octopus in human skin. Fascinated by horror novels and their movie adaptations, Zeth channels his bone-riddled arms in their study. Games are also a tasty treat, but he only has the two human limbs to write. If you enjoy his writing, check out his website.

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