Let the Right One In

(i)

 

Swedish vampire tale is much grislier than Twilight.
  • Review Date: September 23, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Theme of unconditional friendship among lonely young people, with outcast Oskar drawing close to paranormal Eli, who also can't be part of normal society. Foreshadowing that Oskar may come to a bad end later in life because of his association with Eli.

Positive role models

There may not be any "good guys" in this story at all; Eli is a vampire who kills when necessary (though not seeming to enjoy it), while small, bullied Oskar has fantasies of deadly revenge against his enemies. Grownups, even parents, seem distant from the children, though Oskar has a few (very few) cozy moments with his split-up mother and father. Other adults are bitter drunks and hooligans.

Violence

Gore in horrific -- but usually brief -- bursts, including severed heads and limbs, snapped spines, a character falling from a high window, a boy hit with a rod, and of course, ferocious vampire attacks on necks. Eli bleeds from skin and orifices, and another character bursts into flames, illustrating famous vampire weaknesses. A near-drowning, and shots of a dead body after the victim's throat was slashed and the blood drained. One character is shown disfigured after acid in the face.

Sex

Eli is an androgynous creature who sleeps with Oskar naked (though nothing shown or happens in the way of conventional sex). A brief glimpse of what seems to be a naked male groin with a scar from the penis being surgically removed. A character is jokingly accused of masturbating. The boy-girl relationship at the center of the film starts to take a homosexual turn.

Language

The f-word on a few occasions.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Supporting adult characters are a band of drunkards.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this vampire drama has brief but intense, bloody scenes of biting, dismemberment, beheading, and grotesque images of an acid-scarred face and severed limbs. Sunlight turns one vampire into a fireball, while another begins suddenly bleeding all over. Swearing includes a few uses of "f--k." A "blood brothers" ritual is attempted. There is a bleak depiction of kids on their own in a world where adults are distant/distracted/divorced/drunk, in varied combinations. There are strong overtones of bullying and kids warped by divorce. The boy-girl relationship at the center of the film starts to take a homosexual turn. This movie was filmed in Swedish, but an English-dubbed version is a DVD option for viewers who don't like subtitles.

What's the story?

The setting is Sweden in the early 1980s. Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a misfit adolescent schoolboy living with his divorced mom in the Centrum, a sterile apartment complex, even bleaker in the winter months. New neighbors move in: Eli (Lina Leandersson), a precocious, friendless little girl who only seems to appear at night, and an unsociable, taciturn man who acts as her parent-guardian. In fact, the adult periodically kills strangers to drain their blood to bring to Eli -- who is, in reality, a vampire, incredibly old, strong, and lethal despite a waifish appearance. In the effort to solve the murders, police and other grownups edge nearer to the Centrum; meanwhile Oskar and Eli draw closer as friends.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The title refers to a snippet of vampire lore (also employed in the more mainstream-Hollywood Lost Boys) that a supernatural bloodsucker cannot enter a private residence unless invited in first. In other words, Oskar's learning the dreadful truth about Eli and her fatal appetite is no deal breaker -- and it even strengthens their relationship as fellow outsiders. Oskar does not reject her, and when it seems Eli might not even be a "her" at all, the film suggests unconditional love, albeit in a kinky and grisly way. Shot in austere style, often with long, formal takes -- hardly any MTV-action stuff -- LET THE RIGHT ONE IN sacrifices much of the character development in the Swedish source novel (very dense and Stephen King-like) but remains strongly focused on the Oskar-Eli relationship, which is creepy and compelling in a way similar movies aren't because the Swedish lead thespians are obviously real children, not 20-ish actors playing a decade younger like in Twilight adaptations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Eli is an "evil" vampire or not. What do you think will happen to the characters after the ending?

  • Oskar is a regular target of bullies. Talk about Eli's advice for him to fight back -- hard -- and whether that's a good idea or not in real world.

  • Vampire movies continue to be popular. Ask kids who their favorite screen bloodsuckers are and why.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 24, 2008
DVD release date:March 9, 2009
Cast:Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
Director:Tomas Alfredson
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Horror
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some bloody violence including disturbing images, brief nudity and language

This review of Let the Right One In was written by

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Quality

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byFilmManiac May 9, 2012

Stupendous film, quite disturbing

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byXtreme101 October 21, 2015

Vampire Movie Is Much Better Then Twilight

Well, then again. Almost everything is better then Twilight, but you get the point. Let The Right One In is a very slow moving vampire film, so that might turn people off. Also a turn-off (for most people, I honestly don't care) are the Swedish subtitles. Nevertheless, this is a very very well made vampire film that is both touching and emotionally distant. The cinematography is amazing. It is the biggest compliment I can give this movie. It's simply beautiful, bleak, and perfectly captures the essence of the script. The child actors are also perfect. They are far better then any child actors in the U.S. (Anakin Skywalker, anybody?) and deserve all the praise they got in 2008. They are phenomenal. As for inappropriate stuff, there is a lot of blood-sucking by Eli but most murders are offscreen. There is one somewhat horrific scene where Eli's caretaker has acid poured on his face, and later in a hospital scene, you see his hideously scarred face. There are a few uses of the "F" word, but not much else. But overall, it's not just a fantastic vampire movie, but just a great movie in general.
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Cheap Seats November 26, 2012

Eli is 12 years old. She's been 12 for over 200 years and, she just moved in next door.

It is a rare occasion when I give a movie an A- but five stars. However, Let the Right One In deserves it. Tomas Alfredson is one of the best directors I've ever had the pleasure to a see a film of. The book is a work of art and is all about emphasizing the torture of adolescence. Alfredson captures it perfectly on screen and also gets beautiful shots of the depressing scenery. He really sets the mood of the whole film and by doing all of this, creates a suspense that always seems to linger. The two child leads performance excellently with a sense of maturity and chemistry. I would have been a bit more pleased with the adaption though if the had made the ending a bit scarier and showed a lot more of what was happening. The lackluster ending was the only thing from preventing the film from getting an A, even though it really is a masterpiece. There is brief nudity but very brief. There are two uses of the f-word and there are some other mild profanities. Lots of violence but mostly is hidden in the shadows, although blood is constantly seen on Eli's mouth. A brief image of a woman burning up in flames and a group in the town that the film partially focuses on is a band of drunkards. Also, the bullying may upset younger viewers. A-.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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