“Let the Right One In” is an actually scary vampire movie

Alex Pelham

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies, or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. First up: the unusual, excellent vampire flick “Let the Right One In.”

“Let the Right One In" proves that the concept of the vampire romance can be frightening and thought provoking. The film is everything “Twilight” secretly wanted to be, nixing the sappy love triangles and sparkly vegan vampires in favor of a surprisingly innocent love story juxtaposed with brutal, gory violence.

The story of young social outcast Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and his romance with vampire Eli (Lina Leandersson) is one of the sweetest I have ever seen in a film. It’s amazing that the movie is able to take their heartfelt relationship and fill it with the blood and terror that are more at home in a common slasher flick. There’s a somber feeling to the odd connection between the two, but it’s easy to root for these characters and hope they succeed, despite their violent natures.

The plot is filled with the heavy subjects. Pedophilia, serial killers and bullying are all explored, playing into the story brilliantly and illustrating the dark, dangerous world that surrounds and threatens to swallow the young protagonists.

The setting itself, a Swedish snowy suburb, is tantalizing and beautiful by day but unnerving and horrifying by night. Director Tomas Alfredson uses shadows to convey the darkness that confines the characters, contrasted with the daytime’s false assurances that pale sunlight guarantees the characters safety. 

“Let the Right One In” excels at exploring how horrible the life of a vampire would be, illustrated in a subplot that shows a woman’s grotesque transformation into a bloodsucker. Characters are shown willing to take their own lives over becoming such a creature of the night. The film makes it clear that there’s nothing romantic about needing to feed off other people to live, as shown in a scene where Eli has to resist attacking Oskar after he cuts his hand. The movie portrays being a vampire as having to fight to control an underlying, feral presence.

Thankfully, the actual romance aspect is portrayed as quite pure. Nothing is more innocent than a couple of 12 year olds becoming infatuated with each other, even though one of them is a mass-murderer. The movie is clear, however, that Eli is not a typical, young girl. She’s a mature person who has lived for hundreds of years. Both are still attracted to each other, even with the gap in maturity and age.

If there is one moment that is the most chilling, however, it’s the end. After showing a climax set in a community pool that is both graphic and terrifying, especially because of the ages of the victims’ of Eli’s wrath, the epilogue leaves a single question for the audience to wonder: is the love between Oskar and Eli real, or is the vampire planning to control the boy that loves her?

If you are determined to portray your inner tortured vampire soul, I suggest dressing normally and investing in false fangs and a large amount of fake blood. Bonus points are awarded for those who avoid the sun at all cost, although it’s not recommended that you actually attempt to “feed” on people.