Let the Right One In

Just as there are two sides to every story, there are two sides to every person. Who we are, and who we could be. The first is who we reveal to the world, while the one that follows is yet to be fulfilled, it is another that we keep hidden inside. Oskar and Eli both possess the potential of being extraordinary people in spite of their challenging lives. Oskar, a 12-year-old boy, is constantly the victim of bullying in school. He does not capitulate and copes with this by spending his evenings pretending that he is the bully instead of the victim. Eli on the other hand, has been a 12-year-old girl for many years, and while her nature – a vampire – requires her to kill people and live off their blood, she does so with a conscience neither killing violently nor taking more than her share. When the pair inevitably meet, the promise of a relationship soon begin to change the two kids.

In finding each other, Oskar and Eli changed the other’s life. Eli challenged Oskar to stand up to his bullies, while Oskar inspired Eli to become more human. In sharing her secrets to him she invited him into her life, and soon tore down the walls of her isolated world. There are many reasons to find “Let the Right One In” very different among all horror films, but the most outstanding I would say is the element of romantic love between the children. Children in horror film are often the most oppressed, and like Michael Myers in Halloween, remain partly vulnerable even as monsters. By definition, Eli is a monster, but in her sustained youth she remains dependent on her father for the provision of food. Most parents have expectations of their children, and while these remain unfulfilled, strain adds pressure to some children’s lives. Oskar was no ordinary kid, and when the opportunity provided itself, he found a friend (and maybe even more) in Eli. The identification of the two with each other seemed to be rooted in both’s unique position as the “other” in society, which is why Eli and Oskar found it easy to develop a friendship. The filmmakers even went as far as initiating a romantic relationship between the two to strengthen the “otherness”, as romantic love and sexuality’s acceptability remains limited to certain ages. Love then plays a big role in the conclusion of the movie. Having lost her father, Eli fled from the apartment complex to find a new home, but when Oskar was revisited by the bullies he stood up to, Eli came right back to protect him. It was an act of love, and indicated an opening in her life for Oskar. In the end, Oskar was shown riding a train with Eli inside a case possibly assuming the new role of providing for Eli like her father did before him.

Love is the main theme in the movie “Let the Right One In”, but still remains strongly under the category of the horror genre. Some might find a comparison in the movie “Twilight” as both films involved a supernatural being (a vampire) to fall in love with a human, but I believe Twilight’s horrific characteristics remain in a totally different realm than that of Let the Right One In. Let the Right One In maintains elements of the horror film, including our most recent topic – gender. It follows the basic formula: normality is threatened by the monster. Although Eli was presented as the monster in the movie, she undoubtedly was still not a very powerful threat as compared to other (male) monsters in different films. This may have something to do with her age, but also with her gender. When she was able to “infect” another person, also that of the woman species, that person was not able to handle being a monster and indirectly committed suicide. Both Eli and the woman she infected did not completely possess a typical monstrosity that struck fear in other people’s hearts. In it’s entirety, I think that Let the Right One In is a very intersting type of horror film expertly providing horror in love, and love in horror. I’m glad that we ended the semester with this film, and am now truly able to say that I’ve watched a number of different films in the spectrum of the horror genre.

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