The original title is Låt den rätte komma in and it’s a novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, adapted to film by Tomas Alfredson. And it’s a novel of absolute terror, sadness and beauty at the same time.
Oskar is a twelve years old lonely boy who lives with her divorced mother in a suburb of Stockholm. His insecurity makes him the target of cruel mockeries by his classmates.
A winter night he meets Eli in a playground next to his house. Eli is his new neighbour, she’s twelve, too, only goes out at night, smells in a strange way, doesn’t care about cold and can’t go into anyone’s house unless invited. Her arrival with the adult that accompanies her coincide with a series of violent crimes around the zone.
Slowly, friendship between Oskar and Eli grows in intensity. He finds in her the strength and courage to defend himself in school, and she finds in him a relieve for her solitude… But their lifes, and those of all that surrounds them, will change forever during a few days of the end of 1981.
Although the main characters are teenagers, Let the right one in is definetely a story for adults. Not just because it’s a horror book, but also because it shows the most sordid aspects of society and human nature: the raw violence of the misterious crimes isn’t lower than the cruelty of some children against others, and Lindqvist interweaves this violence with the stories of the characters around the young couple: Oskar’s mother, superficially overprotective, but totally unaware of his son’s problems, divorced because her husband can’t control his attitude towards alcohol; Lacke and Virginia, unable to love each other and whose only horizont is to get to the next night to get drunk again with other fellows, as lost as they are; Tommy, Oskar’s only friend, as uncapable of defend him as he is of accepting her mother’s new boyfriend; Håkan, the adult who lives with Eli and who everybody believe to be her father, whose obsession for putting his hands on the girl is only overcame by his fear of her; the band of Johny, Micke and Tomas, addicts to sniffing glue in a basement, to torture Oskar and without future beyond the concrete and parks of the suburb of Stockholm. Or even Oskar, who releases his anger stabbing trees at night, while he dreams he’s killing his classmates. In such a microcosmos, the monster becomes the most human.
The film by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson is brilliant, faithful to the extreme hardness of Lindqvist’s novel, with all the technical aspects -lightning, photography, script, editing- working together with superb performances (featuring Kåre Hadebrant as Oskar and, above all, Lina Leandersson as Eli), merging together a dark and terrorific drama with a love and lightful tale. There’s tenderness and kisses, there’s horror and blood, everything covered by an icy feeling of unavoidable sadness, deeper because of the magnific soundtrack by Johan Soderqvist: hidden among pieces you should avoid at any cost if you’re trying to sleep quietly, Eli’s theme is one of the most shockingly beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
Very few times a novel, a movie and a music were so terrifying and beutiful at the same time…