Let the Right One In was a movie that had me wondering for the first part of the film just who or what the monster was going to be. At first I thought it was going to be Oskar. He had all the ingredients to become a Halloween-Michaelesque monster hellbent on a quest of revenge and blood. He was constantly bullied, did not seem to have any real friends, was fixated on knives and let’s face it, he looked kind of creepy.
As the story progressed however, another potential source of horror was emerging in his newfound friend Eli. Eli was a character that was very difficult to make out. She was very kind, very gentle, but was surrounded by a cloud of mystery. Slowly as the plot developed, so did Eli and her monstrous nature was eventually revealed. She could perform superhuman feats, she was attracted to blood, and she was never seen in the sunlight. Obviously, Eli was a vampire.
Reconciling the fact that Eli was a monster with her appearance as a young, soft spoken girl was difficult. The monsters in the other movies we have watched were extremely obvious. There were the ghosts in The Innkeepers and Voice, the possessed people in Rec 2, and even May as herself. But Eli was different. Even though we see her kill people, it does not come naturally to hate or fear her. We can see that she is merely acting within her nature and is trying to survive. Additionally, Eli really is a good and caring girlfriend to the creepy yet gentle Oskar. Eli also just seems far too innocent to be considered a real monster.
The innocence of Eli however cannot discount the fact that she is indeed a monster. According to Linda WIlliams, to the traumatized male, the woman and monster are both completely other “with impossible and threatening appetites that suggest a frightening potency.” Eli then represents a power that we as the audience are not used to seeing. She does not have the masculine frightening characteristics that most monsters have or even that the juxtaposed Medusa has, but Eli still has the combined power of monster and female that can leave the male feeling powerless.
This sense of horror in the face of something completely other and devoid of a a phallus is humorously seen in the scene where Oskar peeks at Eli changing to see that she indeed is castrated. This is extremely interesting as Oskar is never truly surprised or horrified by Eli throughout the movie except when he sees just how “other” she really is. The sense of powerlessness in the face of the female or monster is also seen in how Eli is the protector of the timid Oskar. Oskar is a gentle, but weak boy who had to be convinced by Eli to finally stand up for himself. Also, at the end of the movie, Eli rescues Oskar from his tormentors, cementing his place of powerlessness in the face of Eli.