Despite my love for all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I am not normally drawn to straight horror. And whilst Let the Right One In is a twist on the usual vampire story it is still horror. But I had heard it was good, actually I’d heard the movie was good, and more atmospheric than gorey, so I gave it a try.
Turns out it was good.
Question: How do you make a monster sympathetic?
Possible answer #1: have an even worse monster as the real ‘villain’
Possible answer #2: make your monster vulnerable, say a child
The central character in Let the Right One In is Oskar, a loner and child of a single mom who is being bullied at school. He makes friends with a strange child he meets in the neighbourhood called Eli. Eli is more than she seems, and not only because Eli is a vampire.
Let the Right One In is atmospheric-scary, but it also has its gory-scary moments. It is a gripping page-turner of a what-happens-next thriller. But at its heart it’s a sweet touching reflection on love and friendship. The fact that one of the two ‘lovers’ is a person who needs to kill to survive and that we still care about Eli and Oskar is something of a triumph. Although I think it’s achieved partly by making another character more horrible – both morally and in terms of the threat they pose – and also by showing how much of the death and mayhem that inevitably follows Eli around isn’t really her fault.
After reading the book I watched the film and enjoyed it. I think the book is my favourite overall but they both have their strengths. The film is shorter – showing how much could effectively be editted from the book. The book has some intriguing bits of back-story that would be hard to dramatize on screen.
It says something either about me or the strength of this book that one of the most moving scenes was also one of the most gruesome. Must be the book, definitely…
8/10 – gory and touching.