Let the Right One In, by Tomas Alfredson, is a story that highlights the relationship between two outsiders. Oskar is a disturbed boy who faces bullying on a daily basis, without having the courage to stand up for himself. His mother is a very caring, loving woman and spends a lot of time with him. Often times the movie shows Oskar expressing his anger by imagining revenge on his bullies. He comes across the second main character, Eli, when she moves into the same apartment complex and he is very defensive when they first meet. Eli’s character is also an outsider because her vampire characteristics set her apart: she can only drink blood to feed herself and she is unaffected by cold weather, she goes out barefoot sometimes so it makes it easier for her to climb walls and trees, among many other characteristics that contrast her from others. She cannot be exposed to the sun without being burned and possibly burst into flames. Eli is said to be 12 in this movie, but like vampires, they don't age and she says that she has been 12 for a very long time. The gender of Eli is supposed to be ambiguous even though it portrays Eli as a girl. The bond between Oskar and Eli transpires over time, originally bonding over a Rubik’s cube. Their friendship eventually grows into love, even with the fact that Eli is a vampire. The two are able to help each other as Oskar rebels against his bullies and Eli was saved from being killed. Hakan is a middle aged male that lives and travels with Eli. He first met Eli when he was already an adult. In the book, he is a pedophile. He is assumed to have the same characteristics in this film, but any details about this are not revealed, even though it is hinted in a few scenes. He is responsible for getting fresh human blood for Eli and must kill the human and bring back their blood as quickly as possible before it spoils. He uses a bottle of acid to intentionally dab some on himself to distort his face from being recognized if he was caught. He used the acid in one scene where he got trapped upside down in a car, with a boy he murdered, after he lost control and crashed into a ditch. Eli hardly reacts to this basically signaling she has already moved on to Oskar.
Traditional Vampire Characteristics Edit
According to Wikipedia, a vampire is defined as: "a being from folklore who subsists by feeding on the life essence of the living". Although the film has a modern take on the traditional vampire story, there are still some elements of Eli that reflect the characteristics of a typical Slavic vampire. Eli is able to withstand the cold and she has an inhumane scent. She sleeps in a bathtub which can represent a coffin and she has to be invited into a home before she can enter. All of these characteristics embody a traditional vampire. Alfredson adds a twist onto these elements by humanizing Eli in a way that could build a relationship with Oskar.
Relation to Other Slavic Folklore Edit
The characteristics that Eli embodies can also be seen in other Slavic folklore. In “Death at a Wedding”, the vampire “rises from the grave, wanders throughout the village and does things that arouse fear even among the bravest”. In Let the Right One In Eli is seen sleeping in a bathtub, which would resemble a modern take of the coffin. In “Bucket of Blood”, there is no cross on the house so the vampire is able to enter the house to stab his victims in the back to retrieve blood. Eli represents a vampire in this way because she isn’t able to enter a home without being invited. These examples are just a few that relate back to traditional folklore, and these characteristics are seen repeatedly throughout literature.
Eli is the main character of the story. She is a vampire from Sweden, who is more than 200 years old but looks like a 12 year old. Eli is first thought to be a girl because of what he looks like, but in reality he was born a boy and he had his genitalia removed. She moves to a small town with her companion Hakan, who poses as Eli's single father. In reality, Eli manipulates Hakan, a former teacher and pedophile, into serving her and being responsible for procuring blood for her. While being in the small town, Eli meets Oskar at a playground and they become friends. They find out that they like some of the same things so they start spending a lot of time together and fall in love. By the end of book, Hakan dies and Eli and Oskar run away together.
Eli knows she should not be having relationship with humans but the connection she feels with Oskar is too strong and she can't help but wanting to be with him. Oskar is a broken soul just like Eli and when they are together, they don't feel as broken anymore. Eli knew that by being with Oskar, he could end up hurt. This seems to be a plot that a lot of stories involving "monsters" follow. For example, in early seasons of "The Vampire Diaries", the character Elena Gilbert was involved in a love triangle with two vampires, Stefan and Damon Salvatore. The two vampires knew they shouldn't date a human but they still did because they felt a connection, just like Eli did with Oskar.
=== As time progressed, the portrayal of vampires has changed. Early folktales such as “The Vampire” and "Death at the Wedding” don’t have as many details about the appearance of the vampire, allowing the reader to assume they look like normal men. I think this is why people have made vampires more human-like throughout the years. In stories like, “Let the Right One In”, vampires have more human qualities that the “typical” vampire from years ago would. For example, Eli does not look like a monster and she doesn’t enjoy doing the killing like other vampires. ===
Oskar is the other main character of the story. He is a 12-year-old boy from the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in Sweden who lives with his mother, Yvonne. He also has a father, who he sometimes visits, named Erik. It is not stated whether Oskar’s parents are together in the story, but it is heavily implied that they are separated. Oskar is portrayed strongly as a scapegoat or outcast type of character, much like Eli is as a vampire. He is commonly bullied by his classmates, especially Conny. This results in Oskar often spending long evenings planning and imagining himself taking revenge against his bullies and leading him into a interest in stories about violent murders. Soon Oskar crosses paths with Eli, a neighboring young girl who hides the fact that she is a vampire from him at first. Regardless of her off appearance and demeanor, Oskar begins to form a relationship with Eli. Note that Jeffrey Cohen's Monster Culture: Seven Theses, in the sixth thesis it states that "fear of the monster is really a kind of desire" expressing that Oskar both feels a unknown fear of Eli and a desire for her. Cohen goes on to express that the monster (vampire) is continually linked to forbidden practices, much like Eli is when it comes to surviving off blood. This may also be linked to "The Poet the Physician and the Birth of the Modern Vampire" where Eli is portrayed as more human and modernized vampire, and less monstrous. Regardless of Eli's nature, and Oskar's eventual discovery of her vampire nature, Oskar continues to pursue her in a fashion, disregarding the fact that Eli explicitly told him that they could not be friends. By the end of the story, Oskar is granted his previous fantasies of revenge through Eli, who ends up dismembering and murdering Oskar's bully, Conny, in an act of defense towards Oskar.
Haken is a middle aged male character that is Eli’s guardian and protector. In the 2008 film version Let the Right One In, Haken is already an adult when he meets Eli and aids Eli by finding victims, killing and draining them of their blood and bringing it to Eli. In the novel, Haken is revealed to be a pedophile, while in the 2008 film it is only suggested though certain scenes and comments. However, in the 2010 film Let Me In, Haken/ Thomas is not suggested to be a pedophile, and in fact met Eli/ Abby as a child and grew up with her and eventually became a father figure protec
ting her. In both the 2008 and 2010 film, it suggests that Oskar/ Owen will be Hakens/ Thomas' replacement and will protect and look after Eli/ Abby.
In the both versions of the film, Haken carries a bottle of acid with him in the case if he ever gets caught he can pour the acid onto his face and become unrecognizable and avoid being traced to Eli/ Abby. In the 2008 film version, he is forced to use the acid when he is about to be caught murdering a young boy in a school changing room. In the 2010 film version, Haken uses the acid after he is trapped in a car accident with the body of a dead boy. In both films, Haken/ Thomas is taken to the hospital. Eli/ Abby scales the hospital and finds Haken/ Thomas’s room. In one last act of loyalty, Haken/ Thomas offers his neck to Eli/ Abby. After drinking his blood, Haken/ Thomas falls out of the window to his death.
Oskar and His Relationship With Eli Edit
The main protagonist in Let the Right One In goes by the name of Oskar Eriksson. He is a twelve-year-old boy that acts like your typical middle school loner. This leads him to being bullied and humiliated by the “popular” kids at his school. Later on in the story, he meets Eli who looks the same age as him but is actually hundreds of years old because she has the typical vampire trait of never aging. Their bond grows closer and closer as the story progresses and we later find out that they’re actually next door neighbors.
Just like Oskar, Eli is also somewhat of a loner. Since they are both outcasts, they can be each other’s friends. I believe that this similarity is what really brings them together in their friendship. They each find a connection with each other that they’ve never experienced before. They share a special bond because of their secrets, such as the Morse code tapping against their adjoining walls. This friendship brings a great amount of comfort and even happiness to Oskar that he desperately needs. Because of this, he looks over Eli’s flaws, such as being a vampire, because he loves the connection they have and because she makes him feel almost fearless. He feels unstoppable when he finally stands up to his bullies at school and Eli’s there to help him. More importantly, it is significant to understand that he also loves this new friendship because it’s the first time someone is not disgusted by his awkwardness or loneliness. At the very end of the movie, these two best friends decide to leave Stockholm, Sweden and head towards a destination the audience does not know and will never know.
Temptation and Destruction Edit
In the movie Let the Right One In, Oskar is portrayed as an outcast who receives a vast amount of targeted bullying. Oskar is teased and not accepted by some classmates, which causes a lot of built up anger with the means of letting the anger just sit. This continuous bullying with the absence of any rebuttal or standing up for oneself causes Oskar's mind to wander to think of doing horrific things. Oskar meets Eli and this friendship changes everything. A whole chain of events start to unravel. Eli has a very destructive nature and has no absolutely no problem with destruction. Eli, being a vampire, kills on a regular basis just to survive. There is almost no stopping destruction from temptation with Eli. Eli encourages Oskar to stand up for himself.
Eli has quite an influence on Oskar, enough to inspire him to start working out with the means of finally standing up to his bullies. Temptation and destruction is a recurring theme throughout Let the Right One In. It's shown many different times. Some examples range from Oskar striking Conny on the side of the head with a pole, and how Eli was overwhelmed with the temptation to suck Oskar's blood, but instead ended up attacking a girl named Virginia. Oskar for the most part, only suffered from temptation. That was, until Eli was brought into his life. Once discovering that Eli was a vampire, it caused him to fully succumb to temptation and become destruction. Interestingly enough, it's almost as though Oskar is temptation and Eli is destruction and together they are an unstoppable duo.
Death at a Wedding (https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4841305/View)
Bucket of Blood (https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4841305/View)
Only the Cinema: Let the Right One In (http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2011/03/let-right-one-in.html)
Let The Right One In Book vs Movie (http://www.avclub.com/article/ilet-the-right-one-ini-25503)
Horror and Humor (http://facets.org/blog/facets_excl/horror-and-humor-in-let-the-right-one-in/)
Let The Right One In (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Right_One_In_(film))
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