Let The Right One In Review

The Film

In the horror genre, monsters that metamorphose from human to something other have a certain relevance to the time of our lives when we change from child to adult. The time when we move from innocent child to horny complex adult is where an awful lot of real-life monsters are made, and it is fertile ground for a genre enjoyed by those people who remember that stage in life only too well. The best film to work this teenage outsider/monster theme is George A Romero's Martin, a vampire movie that flips the genre's normal elements - Van Helsing figure and unstoppable monster- to make an awfully realistic and disturbing film about those of us who feel we don't belong.
The blurb on the front of this Blu-ray is that this is the greatest vampire movie ever - better than Nosferatu, Dracula(1958), Bava's Black Sunday, Near Dark, Vampire Lovers or Rabid? Well, it isn't. Actually, it perhaps is deeply unfair to describe it as a horror film as this really is a very odd tale of a kinship or a very unusual romance. It's a very teenage film, beautifully made and acted where the adults are of little use as they are wrapped up in their own world with one sole exception.

The story, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel by the author, deals with Oskar whose parents have separated and lives with his mother in the city. Mother is distracted and distant, and father has a new relationship which means that young Oskar realises that he is no longer so close to him. Worst of all, Oskar is being bullied at school and dreams of destroying his torturers. He is acting out a revenge fantasy when his next door neighbour Eli hears him through their shared wall for the first time.
Eli is "about 12", and the man others think is responsible for bringing this child up is foraging amongst young adults so that Eli has their blood to drink. As the young friendship deepens, Oskar becomes empowered to attack his bullies and eventually he learns of Eli's true nature. In dealing with his life of bullies and breakup, Eli urges him to become "a little bit me".

The freezing landscapes, the dingy estates and a sense of hopeless adults make the eventual escape motif of Let the Right One In truly poetic. Both our young leads are trapped, perhaps both by their nature but certainly both by their outsider status. The adults who are meant to support them as they grow fail because of their own weaknesses and pre-occupation, and the two "children" make a life for themselves after they give up on their elders.
A beautiful soundtrack, two truly compelling performances from the young leads, and an impressive sense of time and location make this an accomplished film. The tempo is deliberate and the establishing of atmosphere is more about capturing drama than building tension or shocks. There are occasional moments of gore, but this is much more likely to appeal to fans of weird romances and modern Gothic than out and out fright fans.

So, it is jolly good but compared with Christopher Lee's first go at Dracula, it's an entirely different beast - a relatively novel approach to teen outsiders not a fangs out fantasy. In this respect, it captures a sense of time well both in the emotional adolescence and the early eighties of the setting, and there are very few scares with a concentration on human frailty rather than monster horror.

Transfer and Sound

The film is encoded using the VC-1 codec and carries two master audio tracks. The transfer has an admirable depth of picture, with good shadow detail and a relatively unprocessed looking image. Edges have been left alone, colours seem well judged and the moody cold visuals are well represented here.
The sound options are not outstanding examples of lossless sound but this is not really a dynamic film or soundtrack and consequently the excellent atmospherics do all that is really necessary in setting the scene. The English track does nothing for me with characters dubbed into odd American accents, although the synching is good enough. Far better is the original Swedish track which integrates the fine acting of the youngsters back into the film. Subtitles are offered in various English forms including a narrative version to explain the Swedish inserts if you do choose the English track. The subtitles are clear, well translated and in an accommodating font.

Discs and Special Features

This release comes on a single layer disc with the transfer taking 23GB of it. Special features include a featurette with the director discussing, in English, the making of the film alongside clips of the actual shooting. Alfredson talks about casting the children and the importance of catching the era when, in his words, Sweden was almost “behind the iron curtain”.

There are four deleted scenes which give more background to the bullying and add more to the central friendship, they are presented in standard def, in Swedish and with burnt in subs. Two picture galleries complete the package with 5 posters to navigate through and 20 well taken shots of the cast and crew on set.

The menu is simple and quite atmospheric and the overall package is designed with care and simplicity.


Having this film on Blu-ray is a real treat. There's no great haul of special features but this is a good treatment of a curious and unexpected film

8 out of 10
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out of 10

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