In the critically acclaimed European film Let the Right One In, the main character Oskar presents himself as an introverted twelve year old living with his mother in a Swedish suburb. Oskar not only looks different physically with his vampiric complexion and snow-white hair, but also is a social outcast in his school. In one of the opening scenes Oskar brings out a scrapbook where he has saved newspaper clippings, documenting recent murders in Sweden. He seems almost mesmerized by his knife, and the first time Oskar meets his soon to be vampire friend, Eli, she watches him quietly while he jams the knife into a tree, pretending to stab his “squealing” victim. Oskar’s subversive nature manifests itself the way he presents looks, his erotic fascination with death, and the fact that he (easily, and quite naturally) befriends a vampire.
But is it possible that the underlying theme of the movie is in fact, queer sexuality and gender expression? The relationship between monsters and humans has become sexualized since Bram Stoker’s Dracula up until the now popular Twilight series. But what about the relationship between monsters and non normative gender expressions such as trans*, queer, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary or two-spirit identities? One could argue that the character Eli is characterized as a vampire in order to illuminate the ferocity with which queer bodies are mistreated, disregarded, and othered within the majority of normative communities, hence, making this film a satire. Throughout the film Eli claims she is not “a girl”, and it isn’t until later that we see her mutilated genitalia that this proclamation becomes fully related to gender normativity. The discourse around trans* identities become lackluster and falls back on this very statement: “I am not a girl” or “I am not a boy”. But this film asks us to further examine the social implications of this reality. Oskar acts as a character representative of not only tolerance but ambiguity. He seems to disregard Eli’s fear of not being a “girl” and instead is more concerned about the perpetual aggression and maltreatment they face as social, gender, sexual, and non-human outsiders.