I've been planning on covering this story since Archica started up the community, and I've been on a Let the Right One In tumblr kick, so I suppose now is as good a time as any.
Låt den rätte komma in (2008), known best by the English title Let the Right One In and recently remade as American horror Let Me In (2010), is by far my favorite film, and one of the most beautiful stories I know of.
Originally a 2004 novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is the tale of 12-year-old Oskar and the strange girl who moves in next door, Eli. Its backdrop is a chilling vampire horror story, addressing serial murders, bullying, and pedophilia, but at the heart of it all it is first and foremost a love story, and therein lies its beauty. It is about the bond between two unlikely and equally lost and unloved individuals, and the subtlety with which their story is told is its strongest point.
I am still making my way through the novel, but if anything it's even more chilling than the film, filling in the pieces of the story the movie only touched upon. Oskar's creepy fascination with serial killers is definitely fleshed out more, as are the thoughts and background of Håkan, Eli's guardian.
Like most readers are guilty of, I've cheated and peeked ahead, and some of the writing honestly blows me away. Oskar and Eli's relationship is most moving in its honesty and simplicity, its innocence in the midst of such a horrible world. The contrast between that innocence and its backdrop is both striking and sweet.
Alternatively, the remake Let Me In is a great horror flick. The way it translates the story to America, changing around the characters and settings to fit 1980s New Mexico, works well. It is, however, anything but subtle, and completely loses the innocence of Oskar and Eli's relationship that makes Let the Right One In such a strong story. Let Me In relies heavily on American-loved gimmicks and special effects, and while some scenes are enhanced (quite possibly its strongest translation is the infamous pool scene) so much of the heart of the story is lost. Eli's counterpart, Abby, is by no means a sympathetic character, nor does she carry the simplistic horror of a 12-year-old unchanged girl feeding on her innocent victims. In Eli's place we have a manipulative half-demon, complete with altered appearance, voice, and badly-CGIed movements in her monster state. Intended to be scarier, perhaps, but what is more disturbing than horrifying acts carried out by a mere child?
The film is extremely well cast, however, and it was definitely enjoyable to watch. I will say there were plenty of moments of narm when it came to a particular issue that was brought up often but never addressed directly (not entirely "written out" as some have said, by my impression). The movie is about as subtle as a brick to the face in true American fashion, which can be good or bad depending upon your tastes. And as I stated before, some scenes were even stronger, such as the way Owen's character was established, and the events at the pool.
The 2008 Swedish film met with vast critical acclaim, including the Tribeca Film Festival's Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature and the Méliès d'Or for Best European Fantastic Feature Film. The 2010 American remake received much praise from critics and a handful of awards, especially for Chloë Moretz's performance as the dark and disturbing Abby.
All in all, all three incarnations of the story bear my recommendation, but it is the original film and novel Let the Right One In that I carry close to my heart. It is an incredible story of the innocence of unconditional love set against an absolutely chilling horror backdrop. If you have yet to see or read it, I hope you will, and that you enjoy it as much as I have.