Let the Right One In

The film starts with the simple frame of a new snow falling. As the snow falls to the ground, it covers everything that came before it. The snow is a symbol of a new beginning, purity, innocence.

Innocent is how Oskar begins the film as well. His father, a symbol of maturity, remains a mystery to him and to the audience.

But Oskar is curious about maturity as he collects clippings from newspapers of horrible murders that have occurred around his village, all of which he hides in a book. He is cautious and secretive about his familiarity with evil. That is until the embodiment of that evil arrives next door to his house in the form of a vampire named Eli.

As the film progresses, Oskar begins to literally fall in love with evil as his relationship with Eli develops. Concurrently, he is being bullied at school and still a child, innocent, he cannot execute an evil act against them. He dreams of it and worries about it but still cannot because he is innocent. Meanwhile Hakan, who has been Eli’s source for bringing blood home for her to feed on has been captured and hospitalized. Eli needs a new way to get blood. This is where Oskar and Eli’s relationship reaches absolute poetry as innocence needs evil as much as evil needs innocence.

There are admonitions to this relationship though which are portrayed by the demise of the characters Hakan and Virginia. Hakan, who unlike the rest of the adult male characters in the entire movie drinks milk instead of alcohol, is weak. He lives only to serve Eli. Hakan is a slave to evil and remains innocent, hence the milk (white as snow), and evil inevitably literally consumes him.

Virginia is another victim of Eli, but instead of being devoured by Eli she is merely infected and begins to become a vampire and evil like her. She too has lived a somewhat sheltered life and has never been confronted with evil like she must now. But the thought of hurting another human is too much for her and she kills herself instead of accepting evil into her life. The point here is that an acceptance of evil in your life is absolutely necessary to survival.

So when Oskar finds out what Eli is and what evil she does as a vampire, he is given a choice as she stands outside his door. She tells him that vampires must be told they can enter someone’s house before entering. The same goes for evil. One cannot simply be innocent one day and evil the next. There has to be a conscious decision to let evil into your life and as Eli waits, that is the coming of age decision Oskar struggles with until he finally lets her in.

With his newfound discovery of evil, Oskar finally faces his enemies and by hitting one of them in the ear with a red pole (a very familiar red pole as it is the same one Hakan uses to hide a body earlier on in the film). But when that kid, ear bandaged, calls his older brother to retaliate, Oskar is put in a position where he is in a lot of danger and cannot escape. Then Eli saves him. Without her, without evil, Oskar may not have survived.

A reiteration of the snowy frame from the beginning of the film highlights again that there is a new beginning, but now that beginning is of Oskar’s manhood as he leaves home by train with a box accompanying him. A tapping from inside reveals Eli is encased as she must hide from the light. As Oskar taps back, he demonstrates his understanding to the key of maturity: be in touch with your evil side, but keep it hidden away until a situation arises where you need to use it.

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