The Must-See Vampire Film of the 2000s
25 Things Fans Should Know About "Let the Right One In."
Let the Right One In (2008) is the modern measuring stick by which all future vampire films should be gauged. Its story and execution are that good, but even more impactful are the memorable 12-year-old characters Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson). Amidst its dark themes and adult tone, Let the Right One In is a young adult romance and an enduring tale of friendship complicated by vampirism, family dysfunction, bullies and seventh grade.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Snowman), Let the Right One In is already the classic, perennial vampire flick of its own time. Along with Fright Night (1985) and The Lost Boys (1987), Alfredson’s film is one of the few modern-day horror pictures which honestly can be considered an eerie essential.
Now, here are 25 Things Fans Should Know About Let the Right One in.
Let the Right One In is an adaptation of the 2004 Swedish book “Låt den rätte komma in” by author John Ajvide Lindqvist, and it is his debut novel.
Actress Lina Leandersson gives a mesmerizing performance as Eli, but her voice was judged to be too dainty for a fearsome vampire child. So, actress Elif Ceylan was cast to voice over all of Leandersson’s dialogue because of Ceylan’s darker tone of voice. The sound designer Per Sundstrom felt Ceylan’s vocals were much more menacing.
The film’s sound design is one of the most intriguing and creative endeavors behind the production of Let the Right One In. To capture the authenticity of Eli feeding on her victims, the sound effects team recorded themselves biting sausages to create the feeling of the young vampire sinking her teeth into the flesh of humans. To simulate the sound effect of drinking blood, slurping on yogurt was used.
Before becoming a well-known, established horror writer, Lindqvist spent over a decade as a magician and stand-up comic.
Let the Right One In tackles a number of complicated themes which resonate with many fans including the state of being human, bullying, divorce, isolation and love. There’s a distinct color scheme of light hues mixed with browns and vivid values — the perfect mixture of bold blacks and whites — used to create the bitterly cold, snowy atmosphere. The Rubik’s cube Oskar gives Eli might be the brightest-colored element in the whole picture, but there are red and red-orange colors peppered throughout to remind audiences of Eli’s obsession and need for blood.
John Ajvide Lindqvist was born and raised in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg which is where Let the Right One In is set. However, the film production was situated over 10 hours north in the coastal city of Lulea. The filmmakers wanted to make sure there was sufficient snow for the movie shoot.
Although the film never touches on Eli’s true age, and she physically appears to be 12 years old, the pre-teen vampire is actually a 200-year-old creature of the night according to the novel.
John Ajvide Lindqvist is a huge fan of English singer and songwriter Morrissey. In fact, the title of Let the Right One In is an homage to the song ”Let the Right One Slip In” (1988) which was released on Morrissey’s ”Viva Hate” studio album.
Let the Right One In is set in the rich, pop-culture centric decade of the 1980s. Author John Ajvide Lindqvist specifically set his book in 1981, so the ages of his characters would mirror his own at that specific time in history.
Let the Right One In was an award-winning machine which took home well over 40 honors and many more nominations. The motion picture garnered hardware in numerous categories including everything from the Boston Society of Film Critics’ Awards (Best Foreign Language Film) to the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards’ Most Promising Filmmaker (Tomas Alfredson) to the Saturn Awards’ Best International Film.
American (Overture Films) and British filmmakers (Hammer Films) united only two years after the release of Let the Right One In to produce the largely unnecessary remake Let Me In (2010). Actress Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie, Kick-Ass, Suspiria) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Apocalypse) star in the Eli and Oskar roles respectively which were renamed Abby and Owen for some reason.
The first live theatre event for Let the Right One In happened in Uppsala back in 2011. In 2013, a different staged production of “Let the Right One In” played at the Royal Court Theatre in London and later in 2014 at the Apollo Theater. And from November 18, 2017 until January 20, 2018, the Abbey Theatre’s vastly superior production featured Craig Connolly in the role of Oskar, and Katie Honan gave a riveting performance as Eli.
Dark Horse Comics released a prequel to “Let Me In” aka “Let the Right One In” titled “Let Me in: Crossroads” (2010). The comic book was written by Mark Andreyko and drawn by Patric Reynolds. Issue No. 1 featured both a regular cover and a foil-enhanced variant.
Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson was approached to direct the American-British remake Let Me In which was ultimately helmed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes).
“Initially they approached me to do the remake, but I decided not to participate in it,” Alfredson revealed in a 2009 interview with Total Sci-Fi Online. “I am too old to make the same film twice and I have other stories that I want to tell. I think that it is a little sad. I wish that American viewers would just see the foreign language version! When I first got asked about the remake I said ‘Can you not just get everyone to see this one? It is a perfectly good film you know!’”
In the movie, Eli has a very ambiguous relationship with her servant Hakan (Per Ragnar) who serves as the quote-un-quote Renfield made popular in Dracula (1931). However, the novel is much more explicit as it reveals Hakan is in love with Eli. In the book, Hakan is so obsessed with Eli he traps her in a basement and attempts to rape her. Representing this relationship in its entirety on the Silver Screen would be tantamount to child pornography, so the filmmakers obviously soft pedaled the true Eli/Hakan relationship presented in the novel.
Even though Eli’s dark identity of an undead bloodsucker is ever present, the word “vampire” is only uttered one time during Let the Right One In. This occurs when Oskar finally asks Eli if she is a creature of the night.
In interviews, both author John Ajvide Lindqvist and director Tomas Alfredson revealed neither of them cares for vampires. Alfredson went so far to say he knew so little of the vampire mythos that he called on Lindqvist to educate him on the rules and weaknesses of vampires.
During the last scene of the movie, in which Oskar and Eli escape on the train, the youngsters use Morse code to communicate as they did through their apartment walls earlier in the film. Oskar taps on the box in which Eli is concealed in. He spells out P-U-S-S which means “small kiss” in Swedish.
In one of the film’s more disturbing visual reveals, Eli’s genital era is briefly shown when she changes clothes: The vampire’s genital area is scarred. While Eli tells Oskar she is not a girl, the book goes further and reveals Eli is, in fact, a boy who was castrated. The filmmakers utilized a mannequin to pull off this controversial scene in the picture. Eli often wears female clothing and is perceived by most as a girl in the novel.
The catchy tune Oskar listens to on his and his mom’s record player in the film is “Kvar I min bil” aka “Remain (Left) in My Car” by Per Gessle.
Let the Right One In made over $11.2 million globally at the box office against a budget of $4.5 million. The American-British remake Let Me In made $24.1 million worldwide with a budget of $20 million. Neither were box office juggernauts, but their impact on cinema history remains thanks to the overwhelming critical success of Let the Right One In.
Curious what happens to Eli and Oskar after the film? Writer John Ajvide Lindqvist revisits the characters in a short story from 2005 titled “Låt de gamla drömmarna dö” aka “Let the Old Dreams Die.” The events of the sequel pick up after Eli and Oskar’s train ride years later and miles away from the carnage Eli unleashed on Oskar’s bullies in Blackeberg.
The TNT television network was interested in producing a TV project based on Let the Right One In. TNT even ordered a pilot, and planned on airing the show in 2017, but the series never materialized.
Writer John Ajvide Lindqvist said in an interview writing Let the Right One In was therapeutic. The three bullies who terrorize young Oskar are mirror images of the real-life bullies who tormented Lindqvist in his youth. Lindqvist even gave the book’s antagonists the same first names as their real counterparts. And spoiler alert, Eli rips those mean little boys to shreds during the now famous pool scene.
The film’s title tips its cap to the vampire mythos in that a creature of the night must be invited into your home for it to have power over you. In the film, Eli is definitely subject to this crucial vampire rule. More meaningful though is the subtext: Both Eli and Oskar must open their hearts to let each other, the right ones, into their lives. This proves difficult, particularly for Eli, who finds solace in isolation.