Not a Girl

Move over Twilight and let the right one in! While I admit that I initially thought to this movie either to be a demonic possession or a serial killer movie (of which my speculations both failed), “Let the Right One In” captured my attention for its excellent manner in developing its characters and for showing a dark yet humanistic perspective of the vampire.

Oskar, a bullied boy growing up in a broken family, finds himself having a new neighbour: Eli. Essentially reminiscent of Michael from Halloween, Oskar turns to Eli for friendship and treats her as his only friend even if he later finds out that she is a vampire thirsting for human blood as required for her survival. Eli, on the other hand, does not seem to complain about her being a vampire, although she obviously does not kill people unless it is necessary.  Narrowing down the differences, both Eli and Oskar resemble each other in a variety of ways. First, both of them are outcasts of society, Eli being of another kind while Oskar is bullied by his peers. Both of them also strive for love and acceptance, with they find in each other. Lastly, both of them can be seen as monsters in their own ways. Eli for one is a vampire while Oskar constantly longs for a violent way to get back at his bullies – especially when we see him bringing around a pocket knife in his jacket. These similarities between the two characters make us understand why the two go along together very well, giving us reason to understand deeper their personalities and motivations.

“Let the Right One In”, like any other horror films, also plays on gender stereotypes. Eli, who is a girl, is the one on the surface portrayed to be the monster. More than this, however, it is also worthy to point out how Eli accepts her monstrosity, making Oskar like her for who she is rather than for who she is not. One of the striking phrases that Eli uttered, “But I am not a girl” as she was talking to Oskar captures the essence of the monstrous feminine of Barbara Creed. Yes, Eli is not a “girl”, a girl who is labelled by the patriarchal society to be weak, feeble, demure, and conservative. She is more than a girl, a monster for who she is, essentially because she breaks down this sexual barrier set by men. Effectively, the monster in Eli is haunting because of her power being able to kill and “castrate” men from their dominance.

Another striking point in the film is how there seems to be a reversal of gender roles between the Oskar and Eli. While Oskar, complemented by his long blond hair and very feeble physique, is portrayed to somehow be feminine, Eli, with her strong body and even foul odor at times, is seen as very boyish. This becomes very important in the movie as Eli, the girl, becomes the knight in shining armour rescuing Oskar, the damsel in distress, from his bullies.

The movie also presents to us a real-life counterpart of the horror monster in Eli: the bullies of Oskar. It is very much interesting to point out how she, as mentioned above, only seeks blood to satisfy her thirst and survival, while it looks like the bullies of Oskar, and even Oskar himself, constantly quest for blood for nothing at all and just for the sake of it. Paradoxically, we, the audience, suddenly see ourselves rooting for Eli for her ability to incapacitate the real life monsters of Oskar. This gives credit to the fact that Eli is far more capable than being a girl. As mentioned earlier, she is more than a girl.

“Let the Right One In” is definitely one of the good horror movies out there for it does not rely on loud sound effects and surprise scenes to show horror. On one hand it gives a unique storyline and on the other hand it effectively builds up on the characters of Eli and Oskar that make us, the audience, feel more embedded in their personalities. This enables us to go deeper into the horrors of the story, especially at knowing their unconventional personalities and capacities. In the end, the movie, for me, also successfully show how real life horrors parallel fictional horrors, especially at how the monsters in the horror film merely reflects the real society we all live in.




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