There are in fact two film adaptations of this book, an American one and a Swedish one. This post will be reviewing the 2008 Swedish film directed by Tomas Alfredson and comparing it to the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The film stars Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli.
Let The Right One In obviously follows the plot of the book but it focuses a lot on the relationship between Oskar and Eli, a lot more than the book did. I like that they kept in the group from the Chinese restaurant though, and especially that they kept in Virginia turning into a vampire.
They kept the plot point that Eli is actually a boy who had been castrated and even gave a little flash of his groin. Now it’s not explained what happened to him like in the book, but Eli does state lots of times that he isn’t a girl, but Oskar doesn’t mind. So you kind of have to figure it out for yourself.
For me, when watching a film adaptation of a book I like knowing more about the story, so it was okay that they skipped over those details. But for the average viewer, they get left with a lot of questions that don’t get answered.
As with every book to screen adaptation there was some stuff they left out. After Håkan is hospitalised after pouring hydrochloric acid on his face, Eli comes to his room and feeds from him. Håkan then falls out of the window to his death. But in the book because Eli has already infected him, his body dies but the infection survives and Håkan comes back as a vampire and goes after Eli.
They also left out Oskar’s neighbour Tommy who actually gets locked in a basement with Håkan and kills him. So I assume they decided that the best option would be just to leave out both rather than deciding which thing to leave in.
As a stand alone film it is really good. It told enough of the story for the average viewer, but I feel that a lot of it lacked context. I may feel like that because I know a lot more of the story than the film is telling. for example, you don’t know what the relationship between Håkan and Eli is. I know that he kills people for Eli because he Håkan loves him, but the film isn’t as explicit about it as the book.
One thing that stuck out was a distinct lack of music. There’s some music but the majority of the film is without it. For me it gave the film a much more organic and real feel. It felt like I was watching what I saw in my head when I read it. It was a true adaptation rather than just a film based off a book. It was nice to see an adaptation of a book that was really true to the text rather than embellishing it beyond recognition.