film study: why “LET THE RIGHT ONE IN” is vampires done RIGHT

Contrary to popular belief, not all vampires are over 1000 years old. Sometimes, they’re younger, say about 12.. except they’ve been 12 for a long time! Let The Right One In, or Låt Den Rätte Komma In, is one such story involving one of those 12 year old vampires. The story is about Oskar, a bullied 12 year old, who tends to dream of revenge. [I mean, the first thing you see in the movie is Oskar wearing a mask holding a knife!] Then enters Eli, a strange young girl [who’s roughly Oskar‘s age] and newcomer to the town who moves in with her “Father”, Håkan. [we’ll get to that later on] Oddly enough though, Eli can’t stand the sun or even food, and if she wants to come into a room, she needs to be “invited”. Quite literally in fact, she has to be told that she’s “allowed” to enter the room. Through their friendship, Eli gives Oskar the strength – and the determination – to hit the bullies back, but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people’s blood to survive; he’s faced with an almost impossible choice: Just how much can love forgive? Another important thing to note is that Oskar actually collects clippings from newspapers [and magazines] detailing gruesome murders with pictures of various hunting knives. He also hides a fairly large hunting knife under his mattress. [which his Mother is obviously unaware of]

as I said above, Oskar‘s classmates tend to regularly bully him, and he spends his evenings imagining revenge. On the night he meets Eli, who appears to be a pale girl of his age, Oskar learns that Eli has recently moved into the apartment next door to him with Håkan: presumably, her Father. It starts off relatively tame, though Eli initially warns Oskar that they can’t be friends! [talk about harsh! but there’s a reason] But over time, they begin to form a fairly close relationship with one another, with Oskar letting Eli borrow his Rubik’s Cube and the two even learning and exchanging Morse code messages through their adjoining wall. eventually, when Håkan learns of this: he ends up requesting Eli stops seeing Oskar. This is because [SPOILER ALERT!] Håkan is not Eli‘s father: he’s actually the grown up version of a young boy who fell in love with Eli in the past, and because Eli can’t grow up, [with being a vampire and all..] She is technically the girl the young Håkan fell in love with. [if that makes sense] Therefore, he has taken upon himself to take care of Eli [through gathering blood, moving from place to place with her, etc] because he loves her. Thus his reason for wanting Eli to stop seeing Oskar is implied to be pure jealousy!

and if you don’t invite her in: she starts to look like this..

It’s further proven that Håkan is willing to do anything for Eli when he actually stops to kill a [random] passerby on a busy footpath near a main road to harvest fresh blood, but he fails to return with anything  since he is interrupted by an oncoming dog walker. Naturally, a hungry Eli subsequently kills a local man who is making his drunken way home from the bar. Thankfully, Håkan manages to hide the body in a small ice-hole in the local lake, when he plans to make another well-prepared [but pretty badly] executed kill. In this sequence to get blood for Eli, Håkan tries to get the ‘food’ by trapping a teenage boy in a change room. As it turns out though, the boy’s friends are waiting for him, and when he takes forever to get changed, they decide to try to go into the change room to see what’s taking so fucking long! As a final escape tactic, Håkan decides to pour a ton of concentrated hydrochloric acid onto his own face so he can disfigure it to prevent any authorities from figuring out his identity and therefore, track down Eli. He even offers his neck to Eli to feed off of when he comes to accept that she is falling for Oskar, and that he has no place in her heart anymore.. that, and he’s pretty gross looking now after his ‘accident’. Talk about dedication to one person!! Check out Håkan‘s “post-hydrochloric acid” face below!

ugh. hope it was worth it, pal!

Let The Right One In is easily one of the best vampire movies I’ve ever seen: it has heart, it has gore, it has a brilliantly crafted story-line. It’s not so much a horror, when it can even technically fall under a romance story in a way or two! [SPOILER ALERT] the fact that Oskar becomes the “new” Håkan to Eli by the end of the film shows his dedication to the first person who ever made him feel special: I mean, sure, Eli will live on as Oskar grows old – but he seems to accept that, and for the first time in what seems like a long time; Eli doesn’t seem to want to use someone.. she actually seems to care for Oskar. By the end of the movie, Oskar and Eli are on a train, moving away to some new getaway – and I love that. It shows us just how special their connection is: innocent. They go through so much together through-out the film, and the ending is the ultimate pay off.. There’s also a somewhat sub-plot involving Oskar‘s Mother and Father, and the fact that they’re separated but, it’s nothing super important.. But the next time you meet someone new, and they live in a boarded up apartment, and you realize they only really come out in the dark: be careful, It could very well be Eli and Oskar living next door! If you want to get technical, it’s never really said where they end up?


[fun fact: in the very last scene, Oskar is seen traveling on a train with Eli, who is in a box beside him: safe from the sunlight. From inside this box, Eli taps the word “kiss” to Oskar in Morse code. When Oskar is seen tapping back, he taps the word”puss“: which translates roughly to “small kiss” in Swedish, the movie’s language]


  1. I see a darker, alternate reading of this film. It is possible Eli has been doing this a very long time, and she is simply grooming Oskar. Who knows how many young boys she has seduced and made her familiars? All of her steps–striking up a conversation on the playground, entering the room uninvited, stripping naked where she knows he can see her– all may have been calculated steps that she knows work because she has done this many times.


  2. Loving the movie and having read the book as well, I know for a fact that Håkan is _not_ a younger version of Oskar, but actually a pedophile who was about to throw away his life when Eli picked him up to help her survive. He is actually in love with Eli though.
    The book tells a few more stories on the side that explains a lot of things and answers questions the movie didn’t. There is also an English, unabdridged audio book which is pretty good.
    There is also another secret about Eli that is hinted at in the movie, but was never explained further. I won’t tell though. 😀
    One of the best vampire stories ever told, as a book and as a movie.


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