Låt den rätte komma in (2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson
Let the Right One In, I kept reading online, is one of the best vampire movies ever made. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to watching it. I like a good vampire flick. I'd peg Near Dark as my favorite, with Martin a close second. Sadly, after watching it, I won't be adding Let the Right One In to my movie collection, much less considering it a favorite.
It's a cruel thing to write, but LtROI is a bit of a pre-teen Twilight. It's no where near as bad a movie as that piece of crap, but it certainly shares some plot similarities. A pair of lonely souls find each other. One happens to be an old vampire, and the vampire has to struggle not to eat the young human. The pair share lots of plaintive, silent glances with each other. They enjoy sexlessly sleeping next to each other at night. In the end, the vampire defends the human's life from other evil people and they go off to live happily ever after (maybe).
The major difference between the two films, I think, is the bullying plot thread in LtROI. I think this, in part, accounts for the strong love LtROI is getting from the online community. Being made up of more geeks than the average population, folks online can relate to being bullied as kids (note: I'm not excepting myself from this). And, in the film, except for the very last bullying incident, it's portrayed very realistically. Oskar takes the punishment, hates it, wishes he could harm his bullies, but never tells anyone. That's pretty much what kids do -- or did when I was his age, anyway. It's kind of an easy button to push to gain sympathy for your main character, but it does allow us to understand why Oskar has so little problem with Eli murdering people for food.
The crotch shot scene should've been cut. Among other reasons I can think of, it's unnecessarily confusing to anyone who hasn't read the novel. It's supposed to show that Eli is a castrated boy, which is supposed to make Oskar's love for him more remarkable. What I saw was a set set of rubber legs lacking any genitals and with what looked like a horizontal scratch south of the belly button. Logically, not having read the book, I concluded that vampires in this universe don't have private parts at all. I was waiting for this to tie into something in the movie later on, but it was ignored. I had to go online to find out what the hell the point of the scene was. Perhaps not a great adaption choice on the part of the screenwriter.
In the movie's defense, it allows itself to be read a couple of different ways, which I love. You can see the movie as a simple romance: despite their great differences, Oskar and Eli found love in each other and hold onto it no matter what. I read it differently. Eli, we can't forget, is much older than he looks. The movie actually reminds us of this in one scene, where Eli's face briefly transforms into that of an old woman. As such, I think his relationship with Oskar is selfish and manipulative.
I think that Håkan was Eli's previous Oskar. Years ago, he was probably someone Eli seduced/bonded with in order to get human help. Stockholm has 18 hours of daylight in the middle of summer. A vampire there is going to need a regular human to make sure no one opens any curtains on them while they sleep, etc. Håkan also kills people for Eli. This is a task you can see Eli grooming Oskar for, as he first encourages Oskar to hit his bullies harder than he thinks possible and later speaks to him about killing people. I think picking a human on the verge of puberty, close to his apparent age, is an easy way for Eli to gain the help he needs for 50-60 more years. Evil perhaps, but I don't think bullied and lonely Oskar minds so much. (7/10)