Let the Right One In (2008) Poster

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Yes, it is based on the novel Låt Den Rätte Komma In (2004) by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. The first American edition of the book was called Let Me In (2007) as the publishers found the title too long, but it is now out in both the UK and the USA under the title, Let the Right One In. An English remake of the movie, Let Me In (2010), was released in 2010.

  • The author of the novel, John Lindqvist, has explained that he chose the title Låt den rätte komma in as a tribute to "Let the Right One Slip In", a song by British musician Morrissey. However, fans of the vampire movie genre point out the parallel to the folkloric admonition that a vampire cannot enter a dwelling unless invited to come in. Others have suggested that the title is a metaphor for the friendship that develops between the human Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and the vampire Eli (Lina Leandersson), in the sense that each one lets the other "come in" to his very lonely life.

  • In the book, Håkan (Per Ragnar) was Eli's "helper", meeting Eli at a low point in his life when he was contemplating suicide because of his liking for young boys. Eli recognises that his vulnerability and exploits this, using him as her source for food. His identity is left rather ambiguous in the film and therefore open to different interpretations. Some that have been offered include: (1) Håkan is one of Eli's family members, as she called him "papa" when asking for him in the hospital, (2) Håkan is one of Eli's former lovers, as supported by the intense love that Håkan has for her since he's willing to commit suicide for her and kill for her, and (3) Håkan is merely Eli's renfield, since Eli didn't seem to react sadly or mournfully to his death.

  • In the movie, Eli is pronounced as one might pronounce the name Ellie. It is implied in the novel that this is the same way that Eli ("my God" in Hebrew) is pronounced in Swedish, because when Staffan hears Håkan calling out to Eli, he erroneously concludes that Håkan is referencing Christ's invocation on the cross.

  • The question of whether Eli was actually grooming Oskar to be the "new Håkan" is really a paradox for a lot of the viewers of this film in that her actions can either be perceived as being manipulative or taken as comments between two friends wanting to help each other. For example, Eli seems to be encouraging Oskar's killer tendencies by asking him if he would kill for revenge. On the other hand, Eli seemed to be truly concerned for Oskar's welfare and may have just been offering him the tools to deal with Conny (Patrik Rydmark) and his bullies. This is a question that each viewer will need to decide personally, depending upon his or her interpretation of the story. As mentioned in the FAQ item immediately below this one ("Was Håkan once in Oskar's position?"), this is a question which exists in the movie and not in the novel mostly because the novel is more explicit. In the novel, the relationship between Håkan and Eli is clearly different from the one between Oskar and Eli. In the case of Eli and Oskar, they are (as is also shown clearly in the movie) friends: there is a romantic angle to their relationship, but it is founded first and foremost on friendship (respect, trust, common interest, making each other feel safe, etc). Håkan truly believes he loves Eli, but his infatuation (a more accurate description) is largely motivated by sexual attraction to Eli's childlike body; this fact is very graphically demonstrated by Håkan's actions when he is "undead". For Eli, Håkan is a meal ticket: she "loves" him to the extent that he helps her live.

  • Having omitted the backstories of Eli and Håkan, the movie left the question of a potential Oskar-Håkan parallelism wide open. The novel, however, makes the relationship between Eli and Håkan clearer, explaining that Eli found Håkan when he was about 45 years old. Author Lindqvist acknowledges that people may perceive the movie this way, but it was not the author's intention, as he stated in his Ain't It Cool News interview.

  • Neither the book nor the movie explained how Eli found her "helpers" over the years. In the book, Eli simply mentioned, "That's maybe why I've been able to survive. Because I'm small. And people want to help me. But... for very different reasons."

  • Yes. Late in production it was decided to overdub actress Lina Leandersson's voice with a less feminine one in order to render a more androgynous tone. The dub was performed by Elif Ceylan.

  • Without explicitly stating in the film that Oskar will kill for Eli in the future or that Eli expects it of him, one can answer the question either way. (1) Yes, because Oskar does have killer tendencies. He is a loner, gets bullied constantly and cruelly, and has an alcoholic dad and a mother who seems to work a lot. In addition, he did play a little "game" of stabbing a tree while pretending that it was Conny. (2) No, because the film seems to imply that when Eli killed Lacke (Peter Carlberg), Oskar chooses to reject murder after seeing it for the first time. He walks away from the struggling Lacke, puts his knife in its place, and throws it on the floor. Oskar's disgust for murder was shown indirectly when Oskar refused to accept Eli's money because he thinks Eli stole the money from the people that she killed. In addition, the film shows that Eli is willing to put herself at risk to show how much she loves Oskar. (3) Interestingly, the director, Tomas Alfredson, was interviewed in 2008 about the ending of the film in a Huffington Post interview. He speculates that in addition to the outcomes suggested above another possible future for Oskar and Eli is that Oskar decides to become a vampire himself and that after Eli "turns" him: Alfredson: ... they live happily ever after as a children vampire couple... Which really does raise more questions (and some ideas for a future movie treatment).

  • No, Oskar's dad (Henrik Dahl) is not gay but is an alcoholic, according to a LatinoReview.com interview with director Tomas Alfredson: Alfredson: ... But it was a surprise to me that people thought he was a homosexual. His father is an alcoholic and uses the alcohol before his son every time it's attempted...

  • To demonstrate that Eli lacks either a penis or a vagina and is not a biological female. In the novel, Eli was born male and later castrated in a brutal ritual that took place hundreds of years prior to the events of the story.

  • It was meant to be followed by a flashback of Eli's backstory, but the filming of the flashback was not completed because it required the castration of a live pig for the scene. Director Tomas Alfredson objected. As he put it in the Bright Lights Film Journal's interview, "That's bad karma."

  • The egg is a complex puzzle. Eli likes puzzles. That's why she was intrigued by the Rubik's Cube Oskar was playing with at the jungle gym. That's also partly why Oskar came up with the Morse code idea because in a way it's a "puzzle", which he thought Eli would like, as explained in the book. The egg can also be seen as a metaphor of Eli, a puzzle which Oskar at last has solved.

  • At the time Oskar asks her this, she was starving because the dog/people had scared Håkan away from blood he was collecting for her. A bit later, after she has eaten, she asks Oskar if she still smells strange, and he says no. The book offers two other suggestions that would explain Eli's smell: (1) she gives out corpse-like odor as she gets hungrier and her body decays, and (2) as a vampire who does not go out or socialise, Eli does not bathe. After her first meeting with Oskar, when he notes the smell and the rank greasiness of her hair, Eli makes a point of showering and using soap, which upsets Håkan as it suggests she wants to appear more normal to Oskar and to appeal to him.

  • In typical vampire lore, a vampire cannot enter a house unless invited. Besides the possibility of goofs in the film, there are several possible explanations as to how Eli and Virginia seemed to get into some places without being invited. For example, Eli may have entered the apartment building uninvited when she first moved in because the hallway was unoccupied by people—hence, it was open space—or Håkan may simply have entered first and then invited her in. Virginia (Ika Nord) was wheeled into the hospital, which could be construed as a gesture of invitation. Near the end of the movie, Eli was able to break into the pool because she didn't need invitation again since she was there before (as seen when she's waiting for Oskar in one scene), though in the book she is in fact invited in. Finally, the invitation rule may only apply to private residences, i.e. vampires do not need to be invited into public buildings. In the book, she does ask, almost demand, to be let in to the pool. A kid standing by the door responds to her insistence, and she disappears for a moment, building up speed to literally burst through the door.

  • The story takes place in the middle of the cold war. On October the 27th, 1981, a nuclear-armed whiskey-class submarine (S-363) from the Soviet Baltic Fleet ran aground on the east coast of Sweden, spawning a long and intense period of news coverage and something of a diplomatic crisis. One can assume that it is used in the movie (and book) to properly set the tone of the time and to date the story.

  • The story in the film began in February 1982, as opposed to October 1981 in the book. The change was made to make it more realistic to see the amounts of snow shown in the film (which are rare in Stockholm before December). The date Tuesday 6 February 1982 (tisdag 6 februari 1982) can be seen on the newspaper that Oskar is clipping (although in reality February 6, 1982 was a Saturday).

  • P U S S — Swedish for "small kiss".

  • ...in the basement (sharing blood scene): Försonade (Reconciled) from 1968, written and performed by future ABBA member Agnetha Fältskog.

    ...in the pool scene at the end of the movie: Flash in the Night from 1981, written by Tim Norell and Björn Håkansson and performed by Swedish band Secret Service.

    ...in Oskar's apartment while Eli showers and changes: Kvar i min bil (Left in my car), written and performed by Per Gessle (the male half of Roxette), taken from the sessions for his 2007 solo album and provided especially for the movie after director Tomas Alfredson approached him, requesting a song which sounded like Gessle's former band Gyllene Tider. The song is, as of yet, unreleased.

    ...when Oskar visits his dad for the second time in the movie: Dags å välja sida Time to choose side, written by Per Åke Persson and performed by Peps Blodsband.

  • Some viewers feel that the movie is considerably more condensed than the book, having fewer characters, fewer subplots, and slightly different sequences of events. One of the biggest differences is that the role of and the subplots (particularly the sexually disturbing ones) involving Håkan were vastly reduced in the movie. The way Håkan dies in the novel is quite different as well. Another large difference between the movie and the book is the way that Oskar is portrayed. While Oskar does exhibit some violent tendencies (the pretend stabbing and the scrapbook of violent crimes) in the film, his character is less criminal/delinquent than the Oskar presented in the novel. In the novel, Oskar contemplates becoming a serial killer, frequently shoplifts, and commits arson. Of course, in both versions, Oskar is portrayed sympathetically and his criminal tendencies can be interpreted as coping mechanisms. (Actually, in the novel, this view is elaborated somewhat: violence and theft are ways for Oskar to demonstrate his existence; the object of the bullies who torment him is to "punish" him for the crime of existing.)

  • Yes. In the book, Eli, originally from a village near Norrköping, was about 220 years old at the time of the story. She was born male but was castrated and turned at the age of 12 by another vampire for a seemingly sadistic ritualistic reason. This is only hinted at in the film, without any elaboration, however, she does mention to Oscar twice that she "is not a girl" and asks him if he would like her anyway if this were the case. Also, in a brief scene in which Eli is changing into a dress, there is a shot of her pubic area, revealing that she has neither a penis nor a vaginal slit, rather a large, ugly scar. Eli's "real" (original) name is revealed in the novel as being Elias.

  • Yes. At the time of the story, Håkan was 45 years old. He was a former school teacher, who "liked children a little bit too much." He quit the school "voluntarily" after people found out about his persuasion, after which he became chronically depressed and suicidally addicted to alcohol. Eli then found him and called him into service. The movie has toned down Håkan's impact on the plot, removing his pederastic attraction to Eli and a subplot in which he becomes undead and evil after being bitten and apparently killed at the hospital.

  • As for the Best Foreign Language Film category, Let the Right One In was considered as the Swedish entry for the 81st Academy Awards presented in 2009, but the Swedish jury selected Jan Troell's Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick (2008) (Everlasting Moments) instead. (While Let the Right One In's Swedish general release date was October 24th, 2008, which was later than the Academy's cutoff date of September 30th, the film was considered that year because of an earlier qualifying run scheduled by the film producers. This qualifying run was canceled once it became clear that the film would not be the official selection. However, this did not make the film eligible for consideration for the following year's Swedish selection as it had already been considered once, all this according to comments by the involved parties to FilmnyHeterna.) The film was released in the US in 2008, including Los Angeles, which might expectedly have made it eligible for other Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards. However, it did not appear on the Academy's reminder list of pictures eligible for nominations, which may mean that it did not qualify or was not submitted for consideration.


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