After reading and reviewing the Swede, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s splendid book “Let the Old Dreams Die” and viewing his film “Border,” I decided to watch his first 2008 film “Let the Right One In.” The movie is in Swedish, as is “Border,” with easy-to-follow caption translations. It is based on his first 2004 novel with this name. I did not read the novel. As with “Border,” reviewers pointed out that while the book and film are superb, they have many differences. After watching the movie, I became convinced that Lindqvist focuses more on the relationships between people and love rather than horror. Thus, while a few scenes in the film show attacks by vampires, each is downplayed to diminish the horror because this is not the primary film focus. The movie also confirmed my view that we can learn much, even from fiction.
In the film, a young twelve-year-old boy, the somewhat sad, studious son of divorced parents whom he loves, Oskar, is mocked, mistreated, and even physically hurt by fellow students. He meets a girl, Eli, who says she is also twelve, even though we soon discover she is a vampire who attacks residents in the somewhat poor section of town and drinks their blood. She has remained at age twelve for many undisclosed years. She lives in an apartment adjacent to Oskar’s, is brilliant and strong, and is lonely like Oskar. The two become close friends. She finds out Oskar has been mistreated but never reciprocated, even though he wanted to do so. Eli encourages Oskar to fight back. He accepts her advice and even starts weight-lifting training. When Oscar is attacked after his new resolution, he smacks his assailant with a stick and severely damages his ear.
Oskar realizes Eli is a vampire when he suggests they seal their relationship by cutting their hands and mixing their blood. He sees her drink his blood. This does not end their relationship.
An older boy attempts to kill Oskar for what Oskar did to his assailant. Eli comes, saves him, and kills those who tried to kill her friend.
What do we learn from this film? I realize that other viewers will have different interpretations of the movie. But here is my understanding. As previously stated, I think Lindqvist is addressing relationships and love. Where should a member of a couple draw a line? What kind of bad behavior should cause a person to reject a friend? Most people, unlike Oskar, would reject having a vampire as a friend. But what about leaving a mate who refuses to accept that there is a God? Or a thief who is kind to you and even very helpful but harms others? What about a soldier who killed enemy combatants and enjoyed doing so? What about a Nazi who swears he or she will never kill others again? I can see that other viewers will interpret the film differently, but this is how I did.
I liked it because it prompted me to think.