Friday, April 17, 2009

Review of Let The Right One In

The movie, Let The Right One In, starts with a 12 year old boy named Oskar who looks to be on the path of becoming a serial killer. Oskar is a vulnerable boy and is mercilessly harassed by bullies. Oskar's cereal killer type fantasies come from a desire to get revenge and gain freedom from the bullies. A young girl, Eli, moves into Oskar's apartment complex along with an elderly man. The girl turns out to be a vampire and the elderly man kills people for blood to keep Eli alive. Eli and Oskar become friends and through their relationship Oskar is able to grow and defend himself against the bully. The closer the relationship between Eli and Oskar becomes the more healthier Oskar seems to get. The old man get's caught. Eli kills the bullies and Oskar takes on the new role that was left void by the old man's death.

The movie is not scary, as in I didn't have a fight or flight reaction when watching it. There was some gruesome scenes but this is not the true source of the horror in the movie. The horror came 5 minutes after the show ended when something was nagging at me. After getting emotional connected to Oskar and Eli's relationship and even cheering them on, the horror then came with the realization that the movie was about pedophilia. The movie is told from the perspective of a sex offender and how the offender rationalizes the process of grooming a victim. The horror comes from the moral level of cheering on a sex offender.

Vampire movies are about sex. The Vampire's taking of blood symbolizes the lust of making someone a piece of meat for ones own desires. The tension always comes with how this is violently opposed to how Christ, gave his blood, by laying down his life for his bride the Church. From the view of a sex offender everything that is done is good for the victim. Oskar was vulnerable and really had no one he felt he could turn to until Eli came and used this vulnerability to groom Oskar to be a victim. It was Oskar who let Eli in, yes he was open to it, but to truly believe this you have to rationalize and ignore what Eli did to groom Oskar to get to that point. This is what a pedophile and sex offenders do. At the end of the movie there is a quasi-baptism scene. Oskar is held under water at a swimming pool by a bully and is about to die. Eli then comes to be the savior and kills the bullies and brings forth Oskar to a new life.

The point of view of the movie is that of a pedophile and as such the movie is sick.

There are some things that can be learned about sex offenders from the movie that can be used to protect children.

1. Looks are deceiving. Eli looks like an innocent 12 year old girl. The reality is that she was hundreds of years old and that her motives were anything but innocent. Sex offenders like religion because they can use it to easily gain trust to gain access to children. Anything that has power for good has the power for evil. That is why, as someone once said, the corruption of the best is the worst. We need to be aware that there will always be a Judas in the Church.

2. The process of grooming a victim. Sex offenders spend a lot of time fantasizing about how they are going to perpetrate. Sex offenders are very good at manipulation and they know how to use people's weaknesses to get what they want. An analogy of how it works it that they hand the victim a hand grenade and pull the pin. This puts all the pressure off the perp and onto the victim. The victim and the sex offender know that no matter where the victim throws the grenade that the truth is going to hurt someone. As parents we need to make sure that our children are supported and love so they are not as vulnerable to sex offenders. As parents we need to make sure we let our children know that it is ok for them to tell us anything and that we can handle it and take care of it. If we do have reason to believe that a child is being abused we need to contact law enforcement or child protective services.

3. Sexual perpetration is repetitive. The movie shows how Eli got ride of the old man. The old mad poured acid on his face when he got caught so no one would know who he was to protect things from getting back to Eli. Eli went to the old mans window at the hospital. The old man willingly came to the window for Eli to drink his blood. She then disposed of him by throwing him out the window to his death. The movie gives clues that this process had happened repeatedly in the past. It is possible for sex offenders to stop but they will always have a strong temptation to do it again. The temptation will not go away in this life time and because of this perps should never have any access to children. It also means that if one victim is found that it is highly likely that there are a lot more.

If your are wondering why I know so much about sexual assault the reason is that I'm a social worker and I have conducted sexual assault investigations.

48 comments:

EegahInc said...

I think you nailed it on the "grooming" aspect of the movie. I've been really disappointed that some mainstream reviews missed that whole aspect of the film.

BIG SPOILER COMING UP

Someone who read the book clued me in to something I completely missed the first time around, although in fairness, it's only hinted at in one scene of the movie while the book apparently plays it up more. "She" is actually a castrated "He". That makes the sex offender creep factor even worse.

John Edwards said...

Quite scary....how much you have missed the point of the film.

I assume your review is a spoof.

EegahInc said...

I can't speak for the author of this blog, but reading his post, I didn't get the impression he thought this was THE POINT of the film, only one of the underlying themes.

And he's correct. Twitchfilm interviewed the director and the subject came up. "TOMAS ALFREDSON: In the novel “Håkan” is a pronounced pedophile. I think that child molesting is used carelessly in television and film. It’s too complicated a matter to just use as an emotional special effect. The film suggests that “Håkan” is an old aged lover to Eli. Maybe Oskar is becoming the same in the future? "

So, however vaguely, it is implied in the film that Hakan gets to molest Eli in exchange for killing for her (him). Given the cycle of abused who themselves become abusers, is it really so hard to accept an underlying theme of "grooming" in the movie.?

Cure of Ars said...

My review focuses on the implicit message of the movie. In art the implicit is usually the point. Not to many people will want to go to a movie about how a 200 year old vampire who grooms a 12 year old to consent to a romantic relationship. But that is the point of the movie.

What am I missing?

Cure of Ars said...

By the way, does anyone know what the point of the egg that Eli asked Oskar to touch? It was on the table in her apartment. She said that it was worth more than a nuclear power plant then when he touched it, it broke, and a round gold ball was in the middle. I know that they were Eli heirlooms but I felt that there was some significant to that which I was missing.

EegahInc said...

I stand corrected; you are indeed saying that was THE POINT :)

I still think though, based on interviews, the director doesn't want it to be, as it makes him (rightfully so)very uncomfortable. He, like most mainstream reviewers I've read (check out some on Rotten Tomatoes), really wants this movie to be seen as a redemptive love story between two disaffected youths, totally ignoring the fact that Eli IS NOT a youth. That's the subtlety of the narrative, and THAT'S what makes it a horror story, not the fact that vampires are involved.

Now that you mention the Faberge Egg. Maybe that's supposed to be a tip off that Eli is much older and has a longer history than her (um, his) appearance would indicate. Just guessing.

Cure of Ars said...

Looks like I'm still working out what I think about the movie. The explicit theme is a redemptive love story. The implicit theme is pedophilia. The horror of the movie is when the two collide and it works really well. I think one reason that the pedophilia is not talked about in mainstream reviews is because it would take away from the horror. Not realizing that dynamic, then having it pop out unexpected, is what got me. I don't think I can watch the movie again and get the same reaction because my defense is up in regards to the implicit theme. Once the implicit theme is out, it destroys the explicit theme. It does for me anyway and as such John Edwards has a point.

EegahInc said...

I can see that. I actually heard the pedophilia angle come up on a podcast (I can't think of which one right now) before I saw the movie, so I'll admit I went into the film expecting to find it, which I did. I wonder if I would have picked up on it if I hadn't heard that show first?

Anonymous said...

You got it so, sooo wrong. Do you have own kids? What would happen if one of them was stucked at the age of 11 or 12? Would you think that this child of yours should be considered as a pedophile if she or he tried to befriend a boy or a girl at the same physical age?

This movie is about platonic love and Eli (who actually is a castrated boy) is more sexual innocent than a castrated cat, totally lacking sex organs, and that before puberty.

Your hilarious interpretation says more about you than it tells the true meaning of this movie.

Anonymous said...

quote from Eegahlnc: ""She" is actually a castrated "He". That makes the sex offender creep factor even worse."

Why is that worse? Are sex offenders only men? I can't believe what I'm reading here. Can't you see why the author made Eli a castrated boy and not a girl? Beacuse a boys sex organs can more easily be removed, of course. A castration of a girl is hard to describe and also a bit pointless in a story like this. I can understand your point If Eli was a 200 yo, not castrated woman, but the author made Eli genderless, without any sex organs at all and totally without any sex drive, just to eliminate these kinds of hilarious interpretations, just to focuse on the platonic love story.

If you don't see that, you have a really "sexdriving" mind.

EegahInc said...

This isn't my blog, so I suppose I should shut up already, but since I was called out...

"Would you think that this child of yours should be considered as a pedophile if she or he tried to befriend a boy or a girl at the same physical age?"

Eli is over 200 years old. He hasn't matured mentally just a wee bit over that time?

"Why is that worse? Are sex offenders only men?"

Point taken, it sounds very bad the way I worded it. I was trying to comment about the violence done to a child and how that cycle often repeats itself once the child grows into adulthood. I'll try to choose my words more carefully next time.

"...just to focus on the platonic love story."

Then they should never have kissed. That suggests the relationship is moving beyond the platonic. If Eli is just another child as you suggest, then that's innocent enough. If Eli is a 200 year old adult, as I suggest, it's a bit more sinister.

"If you don't see that, you have a really "sexdriving" mind."

That's probably an insult, but could you explain a little more what you mean by that so I can be sure :)

You know, this whole thing reminds me of an old Kids In The Hall sketch where a politician is judging a jelly contest and going on and on about his favorite until someone yells out, "You chose a child molester's jam!" at which point the politician tries to backpedal out of his support for his chosen winner. Nobody is saying you have to do that here. Just because the pedophile subtext is in the movie, it's still okay to like it. Heck, it's okay to love it. There's artistry and beauty in the production and other themes at work in the film besides what is discussed in this post. But this theme IS in there also.

(Austin, sorry if I'm causing trouble in your combox. If so, just have someone call me a Nazi so we can officially kill the thread.)

Anonymous said...

Even kids are kissing each other, not thinking about sex. Platonic or not, lets say innocent love. I don't think your interpretation would've changed if they had NOT kissed each other. That's why I say you think far to much about sex.

You have to agree about the boy/girl aspect I'm pointing at: The authors intention with the story.

I'm not offended by your thoughts about this movie's quality (and it seems you think it's interesting) Actually I DON'T want everyone to like this film. Mastepieces should have their enemies.

You can't say Eli is 200 yo in her body. Only in her mind. I don't believe in God (the traditional way), but I do believe we have a soul. And I think it's pretty close to our mind. We are all old souls. Maybe 300 years old.

EegahInc said...

"I don't think your interpretation would've changed if they had NOT kissed each other."

Probably not.

"That's why I say you think far to much about sex."

Hmm, I would say it's more of a general concern for what I see as the over-sexualization of children in our culture. Maybe it would help if I mentioned that, besides having kids of my own, I also work with children at my church. Before we're even allowed to be in the room with them we have to undergo basic training in recognizing signs of potential problems such as abuse. I suppose it's possible that this (for lack of a better word) "taints" my perception of entertainment involving children. Consider me over-protective rather than over-sexed.

"You have to agree about the boy/girl aspect I'm pointing at: The authors intention with the story."

I think I apologized for my poor wording on the boy/girl thing already. And in my second post, I'm the one who brought up the interview with the director discussing his intentions in trying to avoid just my kind of interpretation. But, as I'm sure you're aware, works of art often have unintended or secondary meanings. (On the off chance you're not, I recommend reading Art and Intention by Paisley Livingston.) This happens with film all the time. Remember Bill Blakemore's famous essay from the San Francisco Chronicle where he insists Kubrick's The Shining is a statement on the horrendous treatment of Native Americans?

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0052.html

Just because the director tried to avoid the child molester angle in this film doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there.

"it seems you think it's interesting"

Absolutely. Let The Right One In is one of the best horror films from last year. (I can't say the best as I like The Orphange better.) I just take the minority position that it's a horror movie more than it is a love story.

"You can't say Eli is 200 yo in her body. Only in her mind."

I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one. Google around and you'll find lot's of paraplegics who still claim to have active sex lives. The book Perspectives on Human Sexuality by Anne Bolin even claims pre-pubescent castratis during the middle ages grew up to have normal sexual feelings, and even sexual relationships of a sort. Eli's physical growth was stunted by the vampirism, but unless I missed it (always possible), nothing implied his mind was affected similarly. I think there was just a tad bit of seduction happening on Eli's part.

Maybe the problem here is that it appears I'm suggesting Eli was going to sexually abuse Oskar. I don't think that's the case at all. I just see her technique of acquiring her next helper/companion as eerily similar to the "grooming" technique Austin described.

This is fun, thanks for not calling me a Nazi :)

Anonymous said...

I can agree with you in one aspect. The seduction part can be seen as a metaphor. It's actually fantastic that a movie can have so many interpretations.

For me, though, I don't think Eli seduced Oskar. She has been alone, not finding a soulmate for over 200 years. I think that she in Oskar found one and could finally let the right one in.

I'm satsfied you didn't think Eli was going to try to rape Oskar.

EegahInc said...

Hey, looks like we're not the only ones debating the film. Roger Ebert just closed out his 11th film festival and had this to say on his blog.

"There were a few early walk-outs (or perhaps they were escapes) from the realistic vampire film, "Let the Right One In," and that's what I expected. The audience in general was so absorbed you could have heard a pin drop. I had some apprehension that the blood lust of the movie, and its unflinching detail, might be alienating, but no: The audience seemed to sense the deep emotional seriousness of the film, and its ambiguity. Is it a touching romance transcending the human/vampire/gender void, or is Eli subtly seducing her next familiar?"

Which just goes to show this is the kind of movie that will stick in people's minds for years to come as the analysis continues. Wonder if we'll be able to say the same about (UGH!!!) the upcoming American remake?

Cure of Ars said...

NO!!!!! I can't imagine a need for an American remake. Other than the huge burden of having to read subtitles.

EegahInc said...

Would it make you feel better if I told you it was being written and directed by the guy who directed Cloverfield?

It wouldn't? Really? Huh.

matthew archbold said...

EegahInc is a Nazi.

Sorry. I couldn't help it. It was just waiting to be said.

EegahInc said...

And in the name of Godwin's law, I officially declare this thread dead.

And there was much rejoicing :)

some dude named steevo said...

"cereal killer"

Haha, that was good for a laugh.

Please do everyone a favor and don't write anymore idiotic "film reviews."

Anonymous said...

Absolutely shocking review. And typical of a christian looking for yet another reason to be outraged. This review was so bad I thought it was a spoof ('cereal' killer??!). Sadly, christian commentary about anything seems like a spoof.

dude...dude said...

Eli is 200 years old and she has the physical characteristics of a 12 year old. Sometimes she acts mature sometimes she acts immature. Its up to the viewer to make up their mind about where these characteristics come into play in different parts of her life. I have a more innocent take on it.

I disagree when you say that the movie is told from the perspective of Eli (you say sex offender). The movie is told from the perspective of Oskar who needed saving from a life that was becoming a downward spiral that, in his mind, could only be made better through hatred and violence. What better way to do that then falling in love w/a cute vampire.

Cure of Ars said...

dude...dude I think you are right and I was wrong about the perspective of the movie. The movie is not from the perspective of Eli but from Oskar as groomed by Eli.

To further develop my view of the movie I think the movie is using a metaphorical parallax. From the start you can see the two perspectives of a romance between Osakar and Eli and Osakar being exploited by Eli. The horror comes between those two points of view when the pedophilia aspect jumps out.

One thing this movie is not is the French version of Twilight. It's not a love story but a horror story.

I'm not "outraged" by the movie. It's a horror movie and as such it supposed to be sick and creepy. I would even say that if your into horror movies that this is one to see.

yohei said...

I was really intrigued by this film, and I went and read the book to try understand what was going on in the film. Some moral perspectives from the book:

One thing is clear in the book, the author hates pediaphiles. That point is made over and over again through the Hakan charachter.

Another moral aspect: At one point Eli explains why there are so few vampires: most commit suicide because rather than commit murder to survive. Why has Eli survived? As a 12 year old he had not yet acquired the moral equipment to judge right from wrong. He is amoral creature who is motivated by the struggle to survive.

I feel that Eli is a bundle of contradictions. He is both a 12 year old boy and a 200 year old monster. That is how we are to see him.

To me, the love between Eli and Oskar seemed more positive in the book. Oskar really does become a better person after meeting Eli. Oskar actually becomes a more compassionate boy because of Eli.

I see compassion as a big theme in the novel. The kissing that looks so erotic in film, is an act of magical empathy. Oskar sees the memories of Eli through Eli's eyes, and these are awful visions of sexual abuse. No genitals? We find out why.

I do think the way this is realized in the film makes it all look more like NAMBL porn (such as shots of Oskar in his underwear). The theme of compassion remains however. Look at all the times Oskar touches or hugs Eli and how protective they are of each other.

Cure of Ars said...

Thanks yohei for your comment,

"One thing is clear in the book, the author hates pediaphiles. That point is made over and over again through the Hakan charachter."

I don't know anything about the author. The movie doesn't mean that the author is pro-pedophilia just like Alfred Hitchcock Psycho movie doesn't mean he was pro-murder. My interpretation of the movie assumes that the author sees pedophilia as evil and is using this evil as the main source of horror in the movie.

"Why has Eli survived? As a 12 year old he had not yet acquired the moral equipment to judge right from wrong. He is amoral creature who is motivated by the struggle to survive. I feel that Eli is a bundle of contradictions. He is both a 12 year old boy and a 200 year old monster. That is how we are to see him."

Eli looks like a 12 year old girl but he is a 200 year old male vampire. For a vampire drinking blood is the equivalent of sex for humans. Replay the movie in your head with a 200 year old male vampire doing the same actions. Only way to see this movie as a love story is to believe that Eli is still 12.

In my mind there is a dark connection with Hakan and Oskar. There is a part in the movie were Oskar goes to a school field trip on a frozen lake. The same lake were Hakan hide a dead body. Oskar uses the same mop stick to hit a bullie as Hakan used to push a dead bodie under the ice. The dead body is found at the same time that Oskar hits the kid. To me this is forshadowing that Oskar is going to have the same fate at Hakan.

In my mind if this was a true love story then Eli would have left Oskar because it's going to end badly for Oskar. The movie hints that Eli had done this routen many times in the past. Eli knows the fate of Oskar if he takes Hakan's place. Every act done by Eli can be seen as a act of grooming Oskar to get him to that point. The one time were the act was not in Eli's interest, the act of not getting Oskar too involved in his life, he acted like a pedophil.

"The theme of compassion remains however. Look at all the times Oskar touches or hugs Eli and how protective they are of each other."

To me this just adds to the creek factor with the justiposition of who Eli really is.

yohei said...

Thank you for the reply, this gives me the chance to clarify my own thoughts on this story. Like a Rubik's cube, I keep turning it over and over again in my mind. Again I am arguing from the book and the movie.

"My interpretation of the movie assumes that the author sees pedophilia as evil and is using this evil as the main source of horror in the movie."

Don't you find it just a tiny bit creepy to see a boy strung up and slaughtered like a pig?
That brings to mind a razor, Ockam's razor

My interpretation is this film is about the corrosive and dehumanizing effects of violence, especially violence against children. Notice how the bullies torment Oskar and call him "Piggy." The movie only suggest this, but Oskar is well on the road to being a serial killer at the start of the film. Also, once Oskar resorts to violence at Eli's urging it sets in motion a vendetta that ends with the horrific violence at the end of the film.

Don't you find it just a teensy bit creepy to see boys being dismembered?

"Eli looks like a 12 year old girl but he is a 200 year old male vampire. For a vampire drinking blood is the equivalent of sex for humans. Replay the movie in your head with a 200 year old male vampire doing the same actions. Only way to see this movie as a love story is to believe that Eli is still 12."

My interpretation is that Eli is both a badly damaged 12 year old boy and a 200 year old monster. Pediaphiles don't live to be 200 years old- mythological monsters live to be 200 years old. I see Eli as partly a monster and partly a human being. Interesting image in light of the dehumanization I have already mentioned. My wife is a Catholic, and one of things she has always emphasized to me is that no person is either all good or all bad. The novel makes this point repeatedly. For me the love story in the film is the reawakening of the human side of Eli that has been dorment for a long, long time. The deception and the "creep factor" is the way she conceals her monster side from Oskar. The dramatic core of the story emerges when Oskar discovers that Eli is not simply an innocent little girl, but also a hideous monster. Visually, Eli flickers back and forth between child and vampire at times. Scary stuff huh? To repeat, Eli is both a 12 year old victim of abuse and a 200 year old monster. In the book, Oskar sees his alchohilic father in exactly the same way. I interpet the blood drinking in the movie not as sexual, but as a gross act of violence. Making human beings into "prey" for the vampire. That is the film's major departure from the traditional vampire story. Eli is not a sexual predator, he is simply a predator that kills people to stay alive.

"To me this is forshadowing that Oskar is going to have the same fate at Hakan."

I agree with this point. Oskar and Eli are tragic lovers like Romeo and Juliette (which is quoted in Eli's note to Oskar). This cannot end happily for Oskar, or for the immortal Eli either.

"In my mind if this was a true love story then Eli would have left Oskar because it's going to end badly for Oskar."

I agree with this point, but Eli has the moral compass of a 12 year old, that is how she has survived for 200 years and not killed herself like all but the most immoral adult vampires. She does offer Oskar the opportunity to back out several times, she has to be "invited" remember. Oskar also could have destroyed Eli in the scene where she comes in "uninvited." Again, Oskar like Eli, is 12 years old and does not have the moral maturity to deal with a very adult situation.

That is the whole point of the story isn't it? Children should not have to deal with these things and they would not if they had real love and care. Children should not be mutilated, tortured, raped, abused, humiliated and dehumanized and they would not if they had parents, or someone to care for them.

Thanks again for your interesting comments.

yohei said...

"By the way, does anyone know what the point of the egg that Eli asked Oskar to touch? It was on the table in her apartment. She said that it was worth more than a nuclear power plant then when he touched it, it broke, and a round gold ball was in the middle. I know that they were Eli heirlooms but I felt that there was some significant to that which I was missing."

Again, reading the book helped me understand this scene. The golden egg relates back to the Rubik's cube at the beginning of the film. Eli expresses and interest in it, and you would say: "Aha! here is the pedaphile sliming up to his next victim!"

In the book it is revealed that Eli likes puzzles. He has a collection of puzzles and other children's toys that we see briefly on the table in his apartment. What is a 200 year old vampire doing with children's toys and puzzles? Because he is both a human child and a 200 year old monster. This is one of many clues we get as to how pathetic Eli's life has been as a child vampire.

Eli belongs to a tradition in vampire literature known as the "sympathetic" vampire, a vampire who is the "victim of circumstance" and "loathes his condition."

One last note. I see you are social worker. I strongly recommend you read the book by Lindquist. The book has a huge cast of characters living in the suburb of Blackeberg. These people all seem to have fallen right out a social workers case files. Drunks, wife-beaters, social misfits, glue-sniffing teens. They all create a nice back drop to what I see as a tragic story of love and compassion.

As you can see, I am very passionate about this story, and I welcome further debate on interpretation.

Anonymous said...

The book and the movie are the work of someone who might just be a literary genius. It reminds me of a popular pastime when I was a kid, many years ago. And of the way I often took tests in school. You have a sentence that is absent a key word or phrase. Then you have to decide the correct word or phrase that is needed. Now there is a difference, though. With the book and the movie, there is no "correct" word or phrase. You can make any choice you want, and there's as good a chance of being right as of being wrong. In this case, nobody is right and nobody is wrong. In the end, it all comes down to what the movie watcher or book reader wants to believe. And I believe the writer deliberately wrote the book and the screenplay to let each individual decide what he or she saw, read, or believes. I for one have noticed several things that seem to reflect things I have read in the Bible. I viewed this movie again on Friday evening at the West Virginia International Film Festival in Charleston, WV. The audience found several of the scences absolutely hilarious. I thought some of them would fall out of their seats when the head landed in the swimming pool. So we have another interpretation; the movie is actually a comedy. The funniest part of the book, at least to me, was the part where Eli corners Tommy (who wasn't in the movie) and talks him into selling her a liter of blood. This is one scene that should have been in the movie. It was a hoot!

gary13136 said...

Anonymous, what did you see in the movie that reminded you of something you read in the Bible. I don't think I've heard that angle yet?

Anonymous said...

[i]In my mind there is a dark connection with Hakan and Oskar. There is a part in the movie were Oskar goes to a school field trip on a frozen lake. The same lake were Hakan hide a dead body. Oskar uses the same mop stick to hit a bullie as Hakan used to push a dead bodie under the ice. The dead body is found at the same time that Oskar hits the kid. To me this is forshadowing that Oskar is going to have the same fate at Hakan.[/i]

This is a movie of contrasts. Just as the leads for the move are direct contrasts visually.

The connection is not to Hakan. It is through the victim Jocke. Eli sobbed after killing Jocke. Eli doesn't like this. Disturbed by this act though it is necessary for her survival. The act was in the shadows and night.

When Jocke's body was discovered, it was broad daylight. The violent act by Oskar also deemed a necessity since falling into icy waters is perilous. Oskar in contrast is at peace and relieved at this seemingly violent act.

yohei said...

I read an interview with the author, Lindqvist, and he said that this book was at least partly autobiographical. That leaves you wondering about "filling in the blanks." Reading the book you get the impression that someone came from a home where one or both of the parents had a substance abuse problem. That maybe this person was eventually abandoned by his parents and lived as a homeless child.

I think making this into a horror story was a way for the author to deal indirectly with some subjects that were very painful for him. I also found out he was a standup comedian. People often deal with painful subjects with humor, black humor. I laughed at the end. It really is very funny the way it was shot, even though it is horribly violent.

Something else to ponder. Has any one noticed the reference to Peter Pan? An androgynous boy who can fly and comes to your window in the middle of the night. In the book Eli even has a fight with Captain "Hook" at the end (more black humor). Why reference Peter Pan in this story?

gary13136 said...

yohei,

One of the first things I noticed about the book and the movie was the "fill in the blank aspect". Reminds me of tests I sometimes took in school when I was little. Except in this case, there is no right or wrong answer. So you can sort of make up your own story as you go. Which of course explains why some put so much emphasis on the pedophilia aspect. They see a lot more of that than I do. For me, the book is not about pedophilia at all, even though there is a pedophile in it. Others would disagree. As I said, "fill in the blank" and make it whatever you want. You might be right, and you might be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I read an interview with the author, Lindqvist, and he said that this book was at least partly autobiographical. That leaves you wondering about "filling in the blanks." Reading the book you get the impression that someone came from a home where one or both of the parents had a substance abuse problem. That maybe this person was eventually abandoned by his parents and lived as a homeless child.Or it could be a child that is actually sexually abused since pedophilia is one of the themes of the book. Eli's lack of genitalia might be indicative of a child who cannot grow past the age of the trauma when it occurred. John used a boy because male genitalia is external and can be removed. The obvious result is Eli's damaged sexual identity and this might have damaged her psychological identity entirely. Not a boy, not a girl... I am nothing

Anonymous said...

Another important theme is loneliness. Loneliness is psychological death. Eli robbed of her sexual identity and as a result her psychological identity is dead. This explains why she doesn't clean herself. She doesn't see herself as alive. Her identity is that of a vampire. But with Oskar, she gives up that identity. Accepted her vulnerability. Risk everything for love which is far greater than what she is. A vampire.

yohei said...

"One of the first things I noticed about the book and the movie was the "fill in the blank aspect"."

This is more true of the movie than it is in the book. This is in part a technique used by low-budget horror films where the action happens off-screen and your mind "fills in the blanks" with something more chilling than any special effects people could come up with.

The thing I noticed was the puzzles, Rubik's cube etc. I think this story is a puzzle that the author wants us to work out for ourselves. Again this is a technique, a fiendlishly clever technique used by Lindqvist to make his point. I found myself tormented by the enigmatic Eli. Does Eli really love Oskar, or is she a heartless monster? Notice how Lindqvist puts us in the position of a school boy with his first crush, or more to the point, the perspective of a tramatized child and his relationship with an abusive parent. Does my father really love me, or is he a heartless monster? Eli is a cipher in the film, but in the book we are given a ton of clues about who Eli is as the story unfolds. We get "Eli's Story," which is one of abandonment and abuse as child. Is Eli good or evil? The answer is all of the above. Does the abused child see his parent as good or evil? The answer is all of the above. This is the tragedy at the heart of this story. Is Eli a human or a vampire? The answer is all of the above. Eli really loves Oskar, but the monster, as they say, must be fed.

gary13136 said...

Since I first saw the movie and read the book (which I'm currently reading for the third time), Let The Right One In has been turned every which way but loose! Now that it is out on DVD, the comments may never end. I've read I don't know how many blogs and reviews in the past three months, and I'm about as tired as Hakan was when he finally dumped Jocke in the lake.

I really haven't made too many comments myself, so I think I will just make this my last one. I'm sure all the controversy won't miss one dropout. I'll keep reading though. As I said previously, just fill in the blanks and, in a sense, write your own story.

One thing that has occasionally been written about is the ultimate fate of Oscar and Eli. When we last saw or read about them, they were in a train (Eli in a trunk) and headed somewhere.

At first glance, you would think that Oscar was running away from home with Eli. Now if the story had happened in Sweden in 1881 instead of 1981, that would be a logical outcome. In 1981? There's simply no way. While Eli looks 12, Oscar actually is 12. And because he is 12, it will be some years before he could possibly be more to Eli than a friend. He can't make a contract; he's too young. How would he explain not being in school? Do you really think that his parents, not too mention all of those cops, won't be looking for him? Hakan could play the part of Eli's father because he's an adult. Oscar can't. To make it short and sweet, Eli absolutely must have an adult to play the part of her (or his) father. Especially if something has to be done during the day. Now I'm approaching this from the point of view that this is a real story and not a fantasy. I hope I'm making this clear. I don't won't anyone thinking that I believe this is non-fiction.

As for the scene, I'm fairly certain that they have already decided on a contingency plan until Oscar comes of age. So Oscar is quite simply escorting Eli out of harm's way, and may have to repeat this move several times.

The key to all my speculation is the author, John Lindquist. Unless he has been somewhere else in the galaxy, I'm sure he has noticed what is being written. I would be very surprised if he hasn't considered picking up with the final scene in the movie and book. This is one movie that just about demands a resolution. Matt Reeves might want to rehash the movie in an American fashion. But Lindquist will, I believe, bring the matter to a conclusion.

To close, I read one comment in the book which, if pursued, would definitely lead to Oscar and Eli's eventually leading a normal and happy life. I'm not going to say what it is, though. Since Lindquist was able to create this monster, then he should be able to kill it.

Anonymous said...

I hear people talking about how castrated males would have normal feelings when older. Or that Eli is not a "child" at heart but a pedophile.

One thing that has not come up is that Eli is a "vampire" something that is told to be "dead" but still living. Saying you "think" you know what would happen to a boy who was castrated before puberty and then "die" is quite silly.

Old and understanding of young boys?

or

Confused vampire boy girl?

I pick B

Peter T. said...

"The tension always comes with how this is violently opposed to how Christ, gave his blood, by laying down his life for his bride the Church."

This bible thumping turd is a total faggot. Probably has too many thoughts about little kids himself. I was always under the impression that vampirism added
"tension" (or the entire aspect of horror to a vampire movie) because sucking blood out of somebody's neck via huge fangs is just something that ordinary people don't do. I don't compare violent acts in movies with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ or say "Oh, that frightens me because he's dying from a gunshot wound, instead of letting blood in some futile attempt to cleanse the rest of mankind because our role model is his dad decided to slaughter his own son but it's okay because SURPRISE! It was Jesus all along anyway." Woa, what the-

Anyway, you need to go pretend to eat Christ's cockmeat sandwich and drink his juices or whatever it is that you do. Quit reviewing films when you don't know shit about the craft!

Filmmaking is about depicting a scenario, not appeasing you dudley do-right morons who think the Earth was created six thousand years ago. Nothing distasteful is particularly glorified or advocated in this film as you rant/rave. It's just a story being told. Nobody wants you to go out and hit on little girls aside from yourself. They're both little kids. Maybe if she went after guys her own age, now that'd be pedophilia. And probably necrophilia too, come to think of it. Good call, retard.

I want this man dead. He's worthless.

yohei said...

Gary13136-

I agree with you, in that we are left to fill in the blanks at the end when they are on the train. I also agree there are quite a number of holes in the plot.

In the "Northland" interview, Lindqvist has hinted he will write a "happy ending" for the story, which I can't even imagine given what happens in the novel.(Hm! Maybe Eli will stick to buying blood instead of making Oskar slaughter people?)
All the same, at the risk of adding to your fatigue I will eventually post my own ideas on the story elsewhere. Lindqvist has littered his novel with all kinds of references and allusions, sort of a shotgun blast of pop culture (and Dostoyevski too). I do think the intention was to create a puzzle for the readers to work out "for themselves" as you say. All the same, a fascinating take on the vampire legend.
Two final images from me. One is how much both Oskar and Eli resemble Wednesday and Pugsly from the Addams Family. The other is how much the novel takes its imagery from the film Bram Stoker's Dracula. I am hoping the American production would pay attention to those qualities. Sometimes great films get made by accident.

gary13136 said...

Yohei, Your remarks have given my energy a temporary boost. There are several ways Lindqvist could arrive at a happy ending, and you have certainly noticed one of them.

I have heard that Lindqvist might do the screenplay for Matt Reeves' do-over of LTROI. But I don't much believe he will. I do hope he writes the second installment though. However, my friend, you are definitely on the right track with your comments. And while I am weary of the controversy, I will continue to read others comments. It's fascinating how many ideas this movie has created.

Anonymous said...

I think this review says more about the author and his twisted mind (he chooses to see or rather projects whats' on his mind) than about the film

Austin Cartwright said...

Vampires as a genre has historically been about sex. Here is a quote...

"Stoker's work is typical of its time in terms of social taboos. You did not write about explicit sex. So instead the author made his vampire as sexy as possible, and the scenes as passionate as possible, without ever letting his characters remove so much as a thread. However, this social taboo has long since been overthrown and vampire fiction today reflects this."

http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/16716/233/3

To talk about sex is no longer a taboo but pedophilia is. It's not a big jump in reasoning to see how this aspect is played out in Let the Right on In just like sex was in Stokers Dracula.

yohei said...

Taboo?

To paraphrase the Brad Dourif charachter in Wise Blood, if you are talking about it than people are talking about it.

Catholics in particular have become hypersensitive about "protecting god's children."

Now why do you suppose that is? Hm. . . .

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about the ending since I watched the film last night, and I think it makes more sense when you look at it as a examination of addiction, how it robs a person of their childhood, and ultimately how these two children are ultimately redemed at the end.

Without exploring this idea in too much detail(I will lazily leave that to the reader), I will remark on a couple of important scenes and observations.

* The book describes the vampire infection as a separate entity. In essense, an addiction.

*Hakan is an enabler of the vampire part of Eli. He protects her from the harsh reality of what she is doing, while at the same time feeding her addiction and enabling his own addictions (the peodophilia). It is interesting that he is sacrificing children to feed both of their hungers.

* Oskar is losing his childhood to addiction. His father is an alcoholic (his friend even looks like a vampire). The contrast between the blissful day in the snow and the erotic undercurrent of the drinking that robs him of his father (his fathers friend even looks like a vampire). He lives in a neighbourhood where there are only "aged children" stuck in some form of addiction or mental illness.

* Oskar, after all the set-up with the knife, is unable to use it to defend Eli. He cannot take the place of Hakan. During the pool scene, he accepts his fate (death) when placed an impossible situation where he is about to abused by an adult, and it is the vampire part of Eli that saves him.

* At the end, they are children on the run, playing a child's game.

I think, from what I've read online of the book, these clues are made more explicit. Perhaps I am trying to find a "happy" ending here, but I think that it resolves the paradox of the "grooming" themes and how they are ultimately not supported by the bright and loving ending of the film.

Adam said...

Could Oskar draw Eli to Christ?

The thrust of this film was Oskar saying to Eli: I love you even though I know the horror that you are. You have revealed to me everything about you that could cause me to run away. I have come to realize that you are a creature that must live off the blood of others. That you are not really a girl, but a castrated boy. Yet I still choose to love you, to accept you because there is a part of you that remains human and is good. The story is one of unconditional love--the kind of love that many of us dream of enjoying, and few of us actually experience.

The bloody kiss at the end symbolizes Oskar's unconditional love for Eli. It means that Oskar is prepared to love Eli even though Eli's monstrous nature cannot be more explicit.

The puzzle egg is Eli. Oskar touches Eli and breaks through the outer shell to the gold inside. It is Oskar's love for Eli that penetrates Eli's core. Oskar is the "right one" whom Eli has chosen to let in.

I do not agree that Oskar's decision necessarily means that he will become the "next Hakan." Hakan's relationship with Eli is ambiguous in the film, but is clear in the book: he is a pedophile whom Eli is willing to tolerate because he helps provide blood when Eli is weak. Eli does not truly love Hakan. In fact, Eli resents Hakan and other adults who have "helped" him for their own selfish and perverted reasons. But Eli does what he must to survive.

By contrast, Eli's relationship with Oskar lies on a completely different plane. It is grounded in friendship and flowers into a form of asexual love.

Eli had vampirism and sexual mutilation forced upon him. He did not ask for it. He clearly regrets the killing he must do to survive. He is therefore not irredeemable. Let us recall the woman who was hemorrhaging, touched Christ's cloak, and was cured (Mark 5:25-34); the cleansing of the lepers (Luke 17:12-19); the raising of Lazarus (John 11:38-44); and the sinful woman who bathed Christ's feet with her tears and was forgiven her sins due to her great love (Luke 7:37-50). A common theme is the saving power of faith and repentance. So it seems to me that the power of Christ could heal Eli, no matter how grotesque he is, if Eli had faith in God and was truly sorry for what he had done. I think the loving relationship that Eli has found with Oskar could be the first step on a pathway to reclaiming his humanity and finding salvation.

Anonymous said...

"Then they should never have kissed. That suggests the relationship is moving beyond the platonic."

The kiss was the best kiss ever. Because kissing is as far as they can get. Eli will never grow old, she is gender-less, they can never be more intimate than kissing.

"If Eli is just another child as you suggest, then that's innocent enough. If Eli is a 200 year old adult, as I suggest, it's a bit more sinister."



She's not an adult. She's an eternal 12 year-old. There are biological reasons for why she is not an adult, the brain of a 12-year old will develop further A LOT before he or she reaches maturity, maturity doesn't come solely with being 200 years old. Besides, according to the book, Eli has lost most of her previous memories several times. And perhaps, she has had little contact with other humans, Oscar may well be her first romance and/or her first real friend for a very long time. Eli is a lonely child, who was forced into becoming what she is. She has the mind of a child.

I agree very much with an earlier comment: "She has been alone, not finding a soulmate for over 200 years. I think that she in Oskar found one and could finally let the right one in."

Anonymous said...

I have not read the book but I watched both movies (original first and prefer it.) In sticking with the "fill in the blank" idea, I see Eli has let the right one in but for Oskar I see the opposite. If at first, Oskar, was looking like he would become a killer as some stated, Eli did make him a better person for a bit but in the end I see him still ending up being that killer he was headed toward as the movie opens. As for Eli, he/she chose the right one for the job she needs. Does she have feelings for him? I believe so, but would replace him without much thought down the road if need be.

Anonymous said...

"Vampire movies are about sex."
Clearly the author has never seen 30 Days Of Night. If he has and still finds something "sexual" about those vampires then it's an unflattering admission of his own fixation on the subject.

"The Vampire's taking of blood symbolizes the lust of making someone a piece of meat for ones own desires."
...and this is Freud's legacy, one he recognized and tried to fight even in his own lifetime. Everything ultimately gets misinterpreted in terms of a sexual metaphor. A student of Freud's once pointed out the phallic symbolism of the good doctor's cigar and the obvious psychosexual implications of his sucking on the end of a long, round, thick object. Freud's exasperated reply remains quite relevant today: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." By extension, sometimes a vampire ripping a victim's throat open is nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. It about as un-sexual as a shark in the middle of a feeding frenzy, ripping up a seal.

It's a regrettable fact that the word "implicit" has become a license for people to advance whatever they please, no matter how contrived precisely because their supporting evidence consists of subjectively re-interpreting unrelated material so it fits the premise. Tolkien explicitly denounced the notion that Lord Of The Rings was an allegory for WW2. An outright contradiction by the author hasn't stopped several generations of scholars continuing to find "implicit" evidence to the contrary. Likewise, there is no implicit theme of pedophilia in Eli's behavior except, sadly, in the imaginations of those predisposed to finding it in nearly any romantic story involving children.