Let The Right One In is a cutesy vampire story that differs from today’s cutesy vampire stories in that it goes back to folklore and the ugly, fearsome, qualities that vampires used to have. This is where stalking and tree swinging is used for prey and not for love interests. This is where bodies burst into fire, not shimmer or glow when exposed to the sunlight. This is where elongated tongues and blood and mangled bodies replace teenage romance and angst.
Here, vampirism is considered an abject rather than something to be envious about. It is something that horrifies everyone, even vampires themselves. Eli could not find anything cool or awesome about being a vampire even after so many years. We get to see her kill a man out of the desperate need to survive, and she later regretted that decision. Because of the nature of her circumstance she has to stay hidden and the only ones that she can interact with are among the unlikeliest of people, Oskar and Hakan. Virginia, the lady that Eli infected, went through a similar experience as well. She was horrified of what she has become and she took some drastic measures to stay alive and hidden, like drinking her own blood (which she later found not to be ineffective) and staying at home. Unlike Eli, though, Virginia later commits suicide by allowing her boyfriend to open the curtains and let the sunlight in the hospital room she was confined in. Eli could not think about committing suicide even if she went through the horrors of vampirism longer and she’s technically older than Virginia.
Vampire movies are usually associated with male vampires enticing female humans out of lust or love, but this one is different because it is a vampire film where the main vampire is “female” and is being courted by a male human. Eli turns out to be actually male later on, but Oskar ends up not caring about it. He wasn’t looking to be satisfied sexually with Eli anyway, unlike Hakan (in the book). Oskar just wanted to be with someone he understands and someone who understands him. The love between them is the cute and innocent kind rather than the intense and passionate kind found in most vampire movies. Many say that it’s more likely that Eli was just using Oskar, that Oskar would eventually replace Hakan, but the director himself thought differently in an interview. He said that he saw the relationship between Oskar and Eli as a happy ending rather than a sad one. Thinking about it, Eli even tried to push Oskar away. He was initially in bad shape: disinterested, weak, cold, pale, and smelly, but Oskar didn’t mind. When Eli told him that he wasn’t a girl he didn’t care. When Oskar later knew that Eli was vampire and that he was actually a castrated male, he could have just ran away but he didn’t. He even protected Eli from being killed by Virginia’s boyfriend. And, Eli returned the favor by going back for Oskar to save him from his school bullies. More than that, the director pointed out that Eli taught Oskar a few important things: that it’s good to fight back but it’s not nice to kill. When Oskar wanted to kill so much out of hate and revenge, Eli showed him what its actually like and how awful it could be to kill. Even if I initially held the thought that Oskar was just going to end up like Hakan, I’ve always thought more that the Oskar and Eli had pure intentions for each other. They can be the most horrific couple, (imagine two kids in love with each other, they are both male, one is a vampire who needs to kill while the other is a bullied human who wants to kill) but even so, at the very least they had genuine caring and love for each other.