If you’re ready for a vampire film that will reinvigorate your love for the genre, then you’ll definitely want to fire up Peacock and stream Let the Right One In. This Swedish language film based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist has won dozens of awards, and Roger Ebert himself even called it “the best modern vampire movie.”
You’re going to want to watch this one with a partner, not because it’s a romance movie, but because it’s so creepy that you’ll appreciate the company when things get dark.
What makes the storyline in Let the Right One In so charming is the relationship that Oskar and Eli form that’s heartfelt, complex, and sometimes disturbing.
Let the Right One In is set in the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982, and follows the life of a 12-year-old boy named Oskar. Oskar is having difficulty coping with the bullying that he faces every day at school, but meets Eli, a girl his age who moves into the apartment next to his. Though Eli is apprehensive about forming a friendship with Oskar, they eventually form a bond, and exchange Morse code messages through their walls.
The initial source of tension in Let the Right One In comes in the form of deception. Eli doesn’t want Oskar to know that she’s a vampire at first, but it becomes apparent as the film progresses. Eli’s father Håkan stalks the night so he can harvest blood for Eli to consume, but ultimately sacrifices his own blood for her so she can feed. As the story unfolds, Oskar, not knowing that Eli is a vampire, suggests that they form a blood bond.
We’ve seen mainstream versions of young vampire romance with the Twilight films, but Let the Right One In tells a darker story that’s centered on suburban isolation, bullying, and its young subjects earnestly trying to navigate through preteen life against a bleak winter backdrop.
When Eli admits to Oskar that she’s, in fact, a vampire, Oskar is initially upset. But given Oskar’s history of being bullied, and his subsequent efforts to bulk up by taking weight-training classes after school, his desire to kill falls directly in line with Eli’s need to kill for survival. What makes the storyline in Let the Right One In so charming is the relationship that Oskar and Eli form that’s heartfelt, complex, and sometimes disturbing.
In other words, Let the Right One In doesn’t lean into the tried-and-true tropes of past vampire movies. We’ve seen mainstream versions of young vampire romance with the Twilight films, but Let the Right One In tells a darker story that’s centered on suburban isolation, bullying, and its young subjects earnestly trying to navigate through preteen life against a bleak winter backdrop.
While we witness two young outsiders discover themselves, and each other, the stakes are raised when they resort to violence as their relationship develops under their unique circumstances.
Let the Right One In garnered universal acclaim upon its release, and currently boasts a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics overwhelmingly agree that this horror romance has beautiful cinematography and storytelling that not only expertly breaks genre conventions when compared to your typical vampire film, but also highlights the horrors of bullying, and how two young characters find strength in their bond as they try to make sense of the world they’re living in.
The American Remake
It didn’t take long for Let the Right One In to be remade for an American audience, entitled Let Me In. The 2010 Matt Reeves remake received an 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and many consider it to stand on its own as a horror film that’s superior to its contemporaries. Critics agree that Let Me In borrowed all the right elements from the original 2008 screenplay, but was unique enough in its delivery to not insult the original film’s storytelling.
There was also a short-lived Let the Right One In series that critics considered to be a compelling adaptation to the original novel and 2008 movie, but felt that it was inferior in many ways. The series was canceled after just one season but received generally favorable reviews and is a solid point of entry to the world that Lindqvist created with his 2004 novel and 2008 film adaptation.
Let the Right One In is not for the faint of heart. But beneath its veneer of violence and bloodshed, there’s a sincere representation of the struggles of today’s suburban youth, and it doesn’t present gore for the sake of shock value. What you’ll witness is a thought-provoking and tender story about two outcasts who both have their own unique struggles and find comfort in each other’s company.