Let the Right One In

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Låt den rätte komma in (English: Let The Right One In) is a 2004 horror novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who adapted his story for the 2008 film version. It's the story of Oskar, a 12-year-old boy who is being bullied at school. One night, he meets Eli, a girl who just moved in next door with her dad. Eli isn't affected by the cold, however, and it's quickly shown her "dad" kills people and drains their blood to feed her. As Oskar befriends Eli and more people go missing, some people start becoming suspicious.

Let The Right One In is most notable for being simultaneously heartwarming and horrifying. Although it has few outright scares, it can be a deeply disturbing movie, as their relationship invokes both young love and a temptation into darkness.

An English-language remake directed by Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame) and starring Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) was released in October 2010 under the title "Let Me In". Reeves used Lindqvist's original screenplay as the basis for his version, but Americanized most of the character names, replacing "Eli" with "Abby" and "Oskar" with "Owen."


Tropes used in Let the Right One In include:
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Oskar is an overweight child, and there's more description of Eli being filthy and mangy.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Swedish version distills it down to just the boy and the vampire, with a minor subplot about the strained relationship of an older couple, all other elements solely serving to move the A plot forward. The American version distills it further, so that barely any characters other than the boy and the vampire even register, and one new character is created to fulfill the function of one of the demoted characters at the climax.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Eli's hair was dark, Abby's is blonde. Vice versa with Oskar and Owen.
  • The Alcoholic: Oskar's dad, adding to the guy's overall misery.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A lot of people thought Oskar's dad was gay in the Swedish film due the scene where his friend comes over for drinks and Oskar acts uncomfortable. Word of God (and the original book) clarifies that that he was just an alcoholic and that his friend was a drinking buddy.
  • Anti-Villain: Lacke, and how.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Hakan in the book.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: The climax of both films where Eli/Abby slaughters all of the bullies. See Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Berserk Button: Don't screw with a vampire's best friend. The bullies at the end learn the hard way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Staffan (a character in the novel) is pretty clearly implied to have anger issues.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as Oskar is in the process of drowning, Eli shows up to tear apart the guy holding him under the water. Yeah, it's that kind of story.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Oskar and Eli... with Lacke's blood dripping from Eli's mouth.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Mr. Vila complains in Argentinean Spanish about how messy the students are.
    • In the last scene of the Swedish film, Oskar taps "kiss" in Morse code to Eli and Eli taps back "small kiss".
  • Blondes Are Evil: Abby isn't evil but...
  • Bloodless Carnage: Relatively, in the Swedish film version at least, with Gory Discretion Shots or long-range/obscured views preferred – so the horrifying slaughter is conveyed with surprisingly almost no blood to be seen, considering how much is let. The Hollywood remake didn't hold back nearly as much, though.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his murderous vampire.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul
  • Chastity Couple: According to the director, Oskar and Eli are meant to be this, due to their age and Eli's lack of genitalia.
  • Chekhov's Gun Trophy: In the novel, Staffan's gun trophy is later used to bludgeon Håkan.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The Morse code ending to both films.
  • Children Are Innocent: Even two of the bullies are fairly sympathetic (and one of them even stays alive in the end).
    • Averted in the novel, in that while Oskar stabs trees with a knife to take out his anger, shoplifts and has an obsession with serial killers, and sets fire to the school, the bullies do horrible things such as threaten to throw him on railway tracks (in plain view of the public!) and drown him, and that other guy is a glue sniffing, shop lifting, porn magazine reader.
    • Hellishly averted during that book-only scene in the public library.
  • Coming of Age Story: Oddly heartwarming. Kind of.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Gösta. In the book, he has more than two dozen cats locked in his apartment. Since none of them have been neutered and no fresh genetic material has entered the roost in quite a while... well, you won't have to use your imagination, because the book enjoys elaborating on the consequences.
  • Creepy Child: Eli and, by the end, Oskar.
    • Oskar was pretty damn creepy all the way through, and arguably got less creepy as the plot progressed (he lost his obsession with serial killers for one thing, and stopped pissing himself).
  • Cultural Translation: The remake.
  • Cute Shotaro Boy: Oskar/Owen in the films. Neither boy could really be called "Piggy".
  • Deader Than Dead: Håkan survives quite a bit before finally dying. He pours hydrochloric acid over his face, later tries to pull out his air tube, has some of his blood drained by Eli, falls out a window from a few stories up and lands rather... messily. When he finally does get killed pulpified, he's still twitching a little after over 270 hits with the base from a trophy.
    • Though in the movie, the fall from the hospital window is the end of him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What Jimmy does to Oskar. You smacked my little brother? Now I'm going to drown you in the pool and cut your eye out if you come up. Then there's what Eli subsequently does to the bullies...
    • Well, the pool scene in the novel is Jimmy and Jonny's revenge for accidentally burning their photo album with their father in it, which is actually completely justified.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Oskar.
  • Driven to Suicide: We are told this is what happens to most vampires. We're shown it with Virginia and Håkan, though the latter isn't quite successful (in the films, Hakan/Thomas doesn't become a vampire).
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: Eli, though his genitals were cut off by the vampire who bit him.
    • In the movie, it is only implied that Eli was a boy, never concretely stated.
      • Actually, in the film there's a scene where you see the scars rather explicitly, but no explanation how he got them.
      • The remake hints at it, but never outright states it (and a deleted scene disproves it). It's implied that Owen saw what Abby looks like naked, but apart from a briefly surprised expression (that could be taken as embarrassment), it is not elaborated on.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Eli.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: One possible interpretation of the reaction of the cats to Eli and other vampires.
    • Oskar describes the feeling upon seeing Eli's "bloodthirsty" face as the same natural fear everyone has of fire or sharp objects.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Cats detect and viciously attack vampires on sight.
  • The Faceless: Used in the English-language film to signify this is principally a tale about childhood (more or less), with adult characters mostly peripheral and often fleeting. Owen's island-like status is emphasized by his absent father only making one scene by telephone, and his mother – a fairly constant presence in the book – appears numerous times yet is never once seen properly on camera: she varies from being a distant figure, a ghostly reflection or obscured by a door, to fully visible yet thrown way out of focus or seen only from the neck down; even a passport-type photo glimpsed in her wallet is crumpled to the point of indistinguishability.
  • Fan Disservice: Eli's crotch. Physically twelve years old, and she didn't start off as a girl. If you disagree, seek therapy.
  • The Film of the Book
  • First Kiss: Oskar's first, anyway...
  • Foreign Remake: Let Me In, the American remake.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Kind of. Oskar hugs Eli and says he likes her the fifth time they meet; the sixth time, the pair cuddle in bed and Oskar asks her to be his girlfriend. Then they run away together after the eleventh meeting. True, they're twelve, but they are meant to be soul-mates.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied that the reason why Kenny bullies Owen more harshly than the others is because he himself is being bullied by his big brother. His brother even calls him a "little girl" which is what Kenny has been calling Owen.
  • Gang of Bullies
  • Gilligan Cut: Eli tries eating a piece of candy. Cut to Eli throwing up behind a building.
  • The Glomp: Oskar's first hug nearly knocks over the unsuspecting Eli.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Swedish film tends to use these, or virtually no blood at all, though the remake lingers rather more on the gore. Arguably the most talked about scene in both films is their pool endings, which play out nearly the same: the main bully's brother, Jimmy, as well as the rest of the bullies, show up at the pool and start a fire to lure the teacher outside while Oskar/Owen stays in the pool. Jimmy forces Oskar/Owen into a sadistic game: stay underwater for three minutes, or he will gouge out one of his eyes. After being held underwater for about a minute, a crash through the pool's window signals that Eli/Abby has come to the rescue. We only witness the rescue underwater from Oskar/Owen's perspective, but the screaming above the water, as well as the downpour of blood and body parts tells us all we need to know.
  • Harmful to Minors
  • Hellish Pupils: Vampires sometimes have slit pupils.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Jocke and Lacke. "I have nothing left now he's gone" says Lacke after Jocke's death, even though his girlfriend, whom he loves, is sitting next to him.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Even with the super-strength, being a vampire SUCKS.
  • Implacable Man: Zombie Håkan in the novel.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Håkan. He isn't awfully good at what he does and gets no respect for it. A strange example as his incompetence seems to make him creepier.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Eli does this with Oskar in the scene where they cuddle in bed together and he asks her to be his girlfriend.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The bullies. And then far, far more, in the bullies' punishment.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the book, a policeman muses on the religious symbolism of the name Eli. The other policeman responds "Should I include that in the report?"
  • Little Miss Badass: Eli's vampire powers let her easily take down men twice her size.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: In the Swedish film at least Oskar is somewhat effeminate in comparison to the more androgynous Eli (who is, of course, really a castrated boy).
  • Mood Whiplash: And how!
  • Nightmare Face: Averted with Eli... and played deadly straight with Abby.
  • Nonhuman Lover Reveal: In a puppy-love sort of way.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Eli is a 200-year-old vampire stuck physically, and to an extent mentally, as a 12-year-old after being 'turned' at about that age.
  • Not Using the V Word: Eli is somewhat in denial about being a vampire, preferring to think of it as having an illness. The book does go into the biological specifics of what goes on inside a vampire's body once infected, but being infected with vampirism still unavoidably makes you a vampire.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Considering how much you hate the bullies by the end of the story, it almost seems a shame for their comeuppance to happen offscreen. In the book we don't even see it from Oscar's point of view, we cut from Eli arriving to the policeman mulling over the witness statements he's heard.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: These vampires aren't actually undead - at least in the film, it's made clear you have to survive the attack to turn into a vampire. Killing your victim is the nicer option.
    • To be specific, along with the common death-by-sunlight, paleness, blood-drinking attributes, these vampires hibernate, cannot enter a house without getting permission, can grow claws on their hands and feet and wings, transfer memories via kiss, and have a second brain growing on their hearts which serves as a second conscious warning them of what to be afraid of and driving them to drink blood.
  • Prequel: The comic Let Me In: Crossroads, which John Ajvide Lindqvist did not want made (he unknowingly sold the comic rights).
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The story is one for Oskar, possibly. He's obsessed with serial killers, thinks about hurting or even killing his bullies, has no problem with it when Eli does kill the bullies, and after the ending, well, he'll probably have to help her find food somehow...
    • Word of God is that Oskar is fated to turned into a vampire himself. It could be argued that becoming a vampire might make him villainous, but Eli is never portrayed as being evil in any way. She doesn't take pleasure in her actions and his driven simply by her need to survive.
  • Queer Romance: Not in Let Me In, though.
  • The Renfield: Eli starts out with an older 'guardian' who tries to protect her by draining blood out of victims.By the end of the movie, Oskar has possibly become this (depending on your interpretation).
    • Word of God is Oskar is going to be turned into a vampire himself, rather than become the new Renfield. Lindqvist actually wrote this into an Epilogue because he was distressed at people thinking that Oskar was simply going to be a new caretaker.
  • Scenery Porn: The lingering shots of Stockholm in the middle of winter manage to be both beautiful and gloomy at the same time. Most of the outdoor scenes were shot in Luleå in the north of Sweden, instead of Stockholm, since winters in southern Sweden rarely have the cold and amounts of snow depicted.
  • Suicide by Sunlight
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Eli kills people to survive. Oskar wants to kill the bullies for torturing him.
  • Tears of Blood: See the main picture.
  • Teens Are Monsters: There's only one featured teenage character, and he's probably the least sympathetic person in the film.
    • In the book, Tommy is a strange case. While he spends his free time getting high off glue, stealing stuff, chewing tobacco, and reading porn, he does treat Oskar nicely, as apposed to the bullies. He even tells Oskar to stay away from porn. But tobacco's okay, for some reason.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Used frequently in Let Me In.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lacke tries to kill Eli with a kitchen knife... that he drops before she even wakes up.
    • Or how about turning his back on a vampire without finishing the job?
    • In the book it is stated that he couldn't bring himself to kill a child.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The American trailer shows Virginia's death.
  • Trial Balloon Question: Twofold. Eli asks Oskar if he would still like her if she weren't a girl. He says sure he would. What Eli really means is she is neither female nor human.
    • In Let Me In, Abby is simply referring to the fact that she's a vampire, since Word of God maintains that Abby was always meant to be a girl and a deleted scene proves it.
  • Undead Child: Subverted. Eli insists she isn't technically undead.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Unlike most vampire stories, victims keep struggling and resisting even while getting chewed on.
  • Vampire Invitation: It's in the title. If they don't get one... it's pretty messy.
  • Viral Transformation: Vampirism is transmitted through the bite, and though it gives the person a Horror Hunger for blood it doesn't make them fundamentally evil. That said, it's bad enough most people are driven to suicide shortly after turning for fear of turning into murderers.
  • The Virus: Vampirism is repeatedly referred to in the context of 'being infected'.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere
  • Weakened by the Light: Vampires and sunlight.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Oskar in the Swedish film is about as stereotypically Swedish as you can get. Physically speaking, of course.
  • Window Love: Lots of this. When we first meet Oskar, and again after Eli leaves, he presses his hand against his window, perhaps an expression of his isolation and longing for connection. When Eli watches Oskar through the window as he does his after-school session in the swimming pool, she presses her hand against the window for the same reason; in this scene she's also, says Word of God, trying to look like a normal kid by wearing heavy winter clothes although she doesn't feel the cold. Finally, when Oskar comes over to Eli's apartment and asks if she's a vampire, she backs away from him behind a glass-paned door and they press their hands together on opposite sides of the pane, she moving her bare hands around, first one and then the other, and he following with his gloved hands. Right after this, she opens the door to let him through. Also, when Eli comes to Hakan's hospital room and is sitting outside on the window ledge unable to come in, she presses her hand to the window.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Inverted by Eli, who despite having lived for over 200 years, is somewhat mentally limited by being physically 12.
    • Although at least in the movie, there's a decent question of how much is genuine and how much is a necessary act.
      • Word of God says she really is supposed to be a 12-year-old; an unusually knowing one, but 12 in mind as well as body. Apparently she goes into long sleeps during which she loses a lot of mental development, hence remaining stuck mentally as well as physically.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Amazingly averted. There are virtually no references to any vampire tropes not used in the movie. In many ways, this helps to create a greater sense of realism. The character's are smart enough to know that what works in the movies won't work in real life, and that discussing things in terms of what movies they are or aren't like is totally pointless.