10 Sharp Facts About Let The Right One In

Magnolia Pictures
Magnolia Pictures

Ask any horror super fan to list their 10 favorite films of the last decade and odds are good that Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In will end up somewhere in the ranking. The Swedish vampire film, beloved by viewers for its eerie lighting, subtle horror, and beautifully strange young actors, turns 10 years old today, and it remains a crossover hit, drawing fans far outside of its native country and even some fans who don’t tend to enjoy horror films at all.

Let the Right One In’s journey to modern classic was a relatively smooth one, but it wasn’t without its interesting wrinkles. So, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, here are 10 facts about the film, from its director’s reluctance to adapt a novel at all to the unusual way its stars learned their lines.

1. TOMAS ALFREDSON WASN'T INTERESTED IN ADAPTING A BOOK.

Patrik Rydmark, Johan Sömnes, Mikael Erhardsson, and Kåre Hedebrant in 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

Let The Right One In began its life as a 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, which became a bestseller in Lindqvist's home country of Sweden and soon began attracting movie producers interested in bringing the story to the screen. Ironically, director Tomas Alfredson was not among the people initially circling the project. He was gifted the book by a friend (something he claimed he usually objects to, because he finds book selection too personal for gift giving), and after letting it sit around his house for a while, he picked it up and became engrossed. After reading Lindqvist’s novel, Alfredson expressed interest in adapting it for the screen, despite a general belief that great books cannot be made into great films.

"I really think you shouldn't do films of good books," Alfredson told the Los Angeles Times. "The reason is that the depth of a good book is so much greater than you could possibly do on screen in 90 minutes. But this was sort of the exception."

2. ALFREDSON WASN’T INTERESTED IN WATCHING OTHER HORROR FILMS.

Before Let The Right One In, Alfredson was best known not for horror, but for comedy films and stage productions. When reading the novel, he noted he was drawn in by the story of Oskar not because he befriended a vampire, but because he was an isolated child who was also a victim of bullying.

"It's very hard and very down-to-earth, unsentimental," Alfredson said. "I had some period when I grew up when I had hard times in school ... So it really shook me.”

When approaching the story for the screen, Alfredson deliberately avoided educating himself about the horror genre, relying instead on other influences to shape the look and tone of the movie, including the paintings of Hans Holbein. For him, flooding his brain with other horror films would have been counterintuitive.

“I did the exact opposite actually because I did not want to know what other people have done,” he told Total Sci-Fi Online. “You see, I think that too many filmmakers watch movies by other directors to try and inspire themselves but, to me, this is totally pointless. I would rather get my influence from art or music. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy horror movies when I see them on the television, but I am totally uneducated toward the genre and I never seek them out."

3. IT TOOK NEARLY A YEAR TO FIND THE LEAD ACTORS.

Lina Leandersson and Kåre Hedebrant in 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

So much of Let The Right One In is carried by the characters of the boy Oskar and the vampire Eli, and even though one of them is a centuries-old vampire, they both still had to be played by children who somehow had great chemistry. Alfredson knew that if he made one mistake in casting his two young stars, he could lose the whole movie, so he spent nearly a year working through open casting calls trying to find the perfect pair of children to inhabit the two roles.

"It was very complicated,” he said. “I wasn't just [trying] to find one boy and one girl; I had to find the perfect match to the same character. It is also very important they have good families and are stable persons. It is a big responsibility to carry a whole film on your 12-year-old shoulders."

Eventually, Alfredson found his instantly iconic stars in Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli, and settled on a somewhat unusual way of working with them.

4. THE KIDS WERE NEVER ALLOWED TO READ THE SCRIPT.

For his own “artistic reasons,” and because professional child actors are not a concept in Sweden the way they are in America, Alfredson settled on a method of working with his two young stars that might seem unusual given how accustomed many moviegoers are to seeing children working in Hollywood. In the audition process, and even during principal photography, Hedebrant and Leandersson were not allowed to read the script. Their parents read it to approve all of the content, but the two actors were fed all of their lines and scenarios by Alfredson himself as a means of focusing on creating very specific moments.

“They didn't read at all, and not during the shooting either. I never let them read anything from paper, so I always read it aloud to them, so they learned by ear, rather than eye,” he recalled. “They didn't know what it was all about really, but they started to make this puzzle every day. ‘Okay, I'm coming in here now’ because I think the best way to get the best out of a child actor is ... You really cannot say ‘you are disappointed with adults.’ They cannot do anything with that, but if you say, ‘You're very upset with this specific person right now in this very moment because you're very hungry and he's just taken your food away.’ You really have to take every and each situation for what it is, and not trying to make it into a bigger puzzle. That's my way to it."

5. ELI’S VOICE WAS SUPPLIED BY ANOTHER ACTRESS.

A number of techniques were employed to make Leandersson look and feel like a being who is hundreds of years old, many of them visual, but one very important creative decision came in the film’s elaborate sound design process. To make Eli seem even more ancient and also androgynous (the character is a castrated boy in the books, which is also suggested in the film), it was decided that Leandersson’s voice would not be used, and instead an older actress would dub all of her dialogue. According to the film’s sound designers, the crew took a vote, and actress Elif Ceylan was chosen to provide the voice.

6. A PEDOPHILIA SUBPLOT WAS CUT.

Lina Leandersson in 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

In adapting the novel for the screen, Lindqvist and Alfredson had to make some key decisions on how best to focus their story on the relationship between Eli and Oskar, which meant that certain elements simply had to go. Among these was the thread running through the book that Hakan, Eli’s elderly blood supplier, was also a pedophile. For Alfredson, this introduced too much thematic baggage into the plot to be handled properly within the film’s runtime, so it had to go.

“So that really gave another tone to the whole thing. That’s too often used as say ... an emotional special effect, without taking responsibility for what that really is,” he said. “It’s a really complicated thing to debate on screen, I think. So that would’ve disturbed the story a lot to have that."

7. A CASTRATION SEQUENCE WAS ALSO ABANDONED.

The revelation that Eli was not born a girl, but was instead a boy who was castrated 200 years earlier, is present in Lindqvist’s novel and is hinted at in one brief but memorable shot in the film. According to Alfredson, though, this was originally going to be explored in much greater detail through a flashback sequence that actually showed the castration taking place. When it came time to shoot the scene, however, Alfredson got cold feet because of certain elements of … realism.

“I tried to do a flashback scene, where we see the castration of Eli [the girl vampire] 200 years ago, with very close shots of a knife coming close to skin, starting to cut, and I said to the make-up guys that I want to do this,” he recalled. “They said, 'You can’t do this unless it is real animal, because if you are so close to the camera, you can’t use rubber or special effects,' so I said 'Okay, let’s do that then,' then I forgot about it, and the assistant director said, 'We have the pig here now.' I said, 'What pig?' 'The pig for the cutting shot. A living pig. He is outside together with the slaughterer.' So I went outside the studio and a butcher was standing with his knife, and this pig looking with his sad eyes. I said no. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if we killed him. That’s bad karma."

8. IT FEATURES A LOT OF VERY SUBTLE CGI.

Let The Right One In is a relatively small film, with few central characters and locations. It’s far from a massive, effects-driven blockbuster, but that doesn’t mean that Alfredson was shy about using computer generated effects to his advantage when the film called for it. The reason many viewers may not notice, though, is that Alfredson and his team employed CGI in often very small ways, to accentuate the strange movements and behaviors of Eli and to add to the eeriness of the wintry landscape at night.

"There is a lot of CGI in this film," Alfredson said. "I think over 50 CGI shots. And it’s a fantastic tool box to use, but it seems like almost everyone is using it too much. If there’s a car explosion, it seems like the car has to explode for three minutes, and has to be the biggest car explosion you’ve ever seen. And it’s not good for the material or the reality to it. So, we tried to hold back on that as much as possible. You can do so much with those effects in a subtle way. For instance, changing the size of the eyes by 10 percent. Just make them 10 percent smaller, and nobody could tell what you have done, but it’s really spooky when someone suddenly has little, smaller eyes. In one scene, they were bigger and so on. People can not really pinpoint it. If you make a car explosion for four minutes, everyone will know it’s fake and why."

9. ALFREDSON WASN'T HAPPY ABOUT THE FILM'S REMAKE.

Tomas Alfredson directs 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

Even as Let the Right One In began getting noticed from American critics and audiences, studio executives were already looking for a way to Americanize the story, and by the fall of 2008 Cloverfield director Matt Reeves had signed on to write and direct the new adaptation of Lindqvist’s novel. Even before that film, titled Let Me In, was released in 2010, Alfredson was outspoken about his misgivings, and actually turned down an offer to make the American version himself.

“Initially they approached me to do the remake but I decided not to participate in it," he said. "I am too old to make the same film twice and I have other stories that I want to tell. I think that it is a little sad. I wish that American viewers would just see the foreign language version! When I first got asked about the remake I said ‘Can you not just get everyone to see this one? It is a perfectly good film you know!’"

10. IT ALMOST BECAME A TV SERIES.

Even after Let Me In arrived in American cinemas, producers weren’t done with Let The Right One In. In 2015, A&E began developing a potential TV series, written by Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis. In the summer of 2016, TNT ordered a pilot for the series, but by the spring of 2017 the network had decided not to proceed with the pickup, and the project fell off the radar. At the time, it was reported that production company Tomorrow Studios was still interested in the concept and potentially shopping it around to other networks, so perhaps the idea still has a future.

Every New Movie, TV Series, and Special Coming to Netflix in October

Charles Baker as Skinny Pete in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019).
Charles Baker as Skinny Pete in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019).
Courtesy of Netflix

It has been six years since Breaking Bad fans last caught a glimpse of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), as he sped away from Albuquerque and the men who held him captive there for so long (Walter White included, at least in a metaphorical sense). While we've longed to see what happened next, and what Jesse might be up to today, that it would ever become a reality seemed unlikely ... until earlier this year, when Vince Gilligan confirmed that he had secretly shot a Breaking Bad movie titled El Camino, that will catch us up on the man formerly known as Cap'n Cook.

In addition to that October 11th premiere, Netflix has plenty of other movies, shows, and specials coming your way in October.

October 1

Carmen Sandiego: Season 2
Nikki Glaser: Bangin’
93 days
A.M.I.
Along Came a Spider
Bad Boys
Bad Boys II
Blow
Bring It On, Ghost: Season 1
Charlie’s Angels
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Cheese in the Trap: Season 1
Chicago Typewriter: Season 1
Crash
Exit Wounds
Good Burger
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Honey 2
House of the Witch
Lagos Real Fake Life
Men in Black II
Moms at War
No Reservations
Ocean’s Thirteen
Ocean’s Twelve
One Direction: This Is Us
Payday
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
Scream 2
Senna
Signal: Season 1
Sin City
Sinister Circle
Supergirl
Superman Returns
Surf’s Up
The Bucket List
The Flintstones
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
The Island
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Rugrats Movie
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Tomorrow with You: Season 1
Trainspotting
Troy
Tunnel: Season 1
Unaccompanied Minors
Walking Out

October 2

Living Undocumented
Ready to Mingle (Solteras)
Rotten: Season 2

October 3

Seis Manos

October 4

Big Mouth: Season 3
Creeped Out: Season 2
In the Tall Grass
Peaky Blinders: Season 5
Raising Dion
Super Monsters: Season 3
Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween

October 5

Legend Quest: Masters of Myth

October 7

Match! Tennis Juniors
The Water Diviner

October 8

Deon Cole: Cole Hearted
The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween

October 9

After
Rhythm + Flow

October 10

Schitt’s Creek: Season 5
Ultramarine Magmell

October 11

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
The Forest of Love
Fractured
Haunted: Season 2
Insatiable: Season 2
La influencia
Plan Coeur: Season 2
The Awakenings of Motti Wolenbruch
YooHoo to the Rescue: Season 2

October 12

Banlieusards

October 15

Dark Crimes

October 16

Ghosts of Sugar Land
Sinister 2

October 17

The Karate Kid
The Unlisted

October 18

The Yard (Avlu)
Baby: Season 2
Eli
Interior Design Masters
The House of Flowers: Season 2
The Laundromat
Living with Yourself
MeatEater: Season 8
Mighty Little Bheem: Diwali
Seventeen
Spirit Riding Free: Pony Tales Collection 2
Tell Me Who I Am
Toon: Seasons 1-2
Unnatural Selection
Upstarts

October 19

Men in Black

October 21

Echo in the Canyon
Free Fire

October 22

Jenny Slate: Stage Fright

October 23

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Dancing with the Birds
Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

October 24

Daybreak
Revenge of Pontianak

October 25

A Tale of Love and Darkness
Assimilate
Brigada Costa del Sol
Brotherhood
Dolemite Is My Name
Greenhouse Academy: Season 3
The Kominsky Method: Season 2
Monzon
Nailed It! France (C’est du gâteau!)
Nailed It! Spain (Niquelao!)
Prank Encounters
Rattlesnake
It Takes a Lunatic

October 28

A 3 Minute Hug
Little Miss Sumo
Shine On with Reese: Season 1

October 29

Arsenio Hall: Smart & Classy

October 30

Flavorful Origins: Yunnan Cuisine

October 31

Kengan Ashura: Part ll
Nowhere Man
Raging Bull

10 Intriguing Friends Fan Theories

Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

Friends is a classic sitcom about twentysomethings navigating life, love, and work in New York City. Or at least that’s one theory about the beloved sitcom, which premiered on September 22, 1994. Here’s another: Friends is a glimpse inside a mental ward, where six disturbed patients are working through their personality disorders. In the 25 years since it made its debut, Friends has inspired a ton of wild fan theories on Reddit and Twitter. Here are a few of the strangest (and be careful: Mr. Heckles’s murderer is still at large).

1. Rachel dreamed the whole thing.

In the summer of 2017, this photo of the Friends season four DVD box ignited a fan frenzy. The image on the box shows the titular pals snoozing side by side. Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey all have their eyes shut, but Rachel—resting right in the middle—is wide awake and looking directly at the camera. Why is she the only one with her eyes open? Some fans suggested Rachel was plotting something sinister, or secretly very “woke.” But plenty more insisted it was proof the whole show was Rachel’s dream. According to one Twitter fan, Rachel fell into an anxiety-fueled dream the night before her wedding to Barry and imagined her own group of hip New York friends to cope with her frustration and dread. Except she woke up to reality the next morning, as shown on the DVD cover, where she’s surrounded by her dream friends.

2. Phoebe hallucinated the show.

Another popular theory suggests that Friends was all in Phoebe’s head—only this take is much darker. The basic premise is that Phoebe never got off the streets. She was a lonely, homeless woman with a meth addiction who peered into the window of Central Perk one day. She noticed five friends laughing over coffee, and imagined herself as part of the gang. In this fantasy, her pals didn’t always get her weird sense of humor, but they loved her anyway. In reality, the twentysomethings in the window were wondering why that “crazy lady” was staring at them. This theory gained so much traction that a journalist asked Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman about it at a television festival. She quickly threw water on the whole thing. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Kauffman replied. “That’s a terrible theory. That’s insane. Someone needs a life, that’s all I’m saying."

3. It was one long promotion for Starbucks.

The cast of 'Friends'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

According to one manic Facebook rant, Friends was not a sitcom at all. It was actually a 10-year marketing ploy, designed to make Starbucks the new go-to destination for young people. Why else do the characters spend so much time in a coffee shop? True, the shop is not called Starbucks, but the subliminal evidence lies in Rachel’s last name (Green, like the Starbucks company color) and hair (styled like the mermaid in the Starbucks logo). Then there’s Ross and Monica’s last name, Geller, which is close to the German word gellen. It means “to yell,” just like the Starbucks baristas calling out customer names. The case only gets flimsier from there, but if you really want to read about how Chandler and Moby Dick are connected, you can dive down that particular rabbit hole here.

4. Ross lost custody of Ben because he was a bad dad.

Ross’s son Ben arrives in the very first season of Friends, in the aptly titled episode “The One with the Birth.” He’s a constant character for several seasons, but as the show goes on, Ross seems to spend less and less time with his kid. Ben disappears after the eighth season, and never meets his half-sister Emma onscreen. There’s one explanation for this drop-off: Ross lost custody of his son due to increasingly disturbing behavior.

The blog What Would Bale Do lays out a bunch of examples: Ross sleeps with his students, tries to hook up with his cousin, and asks a self-defense instructor for help scaring his female friends. He’s also generally pretty jealous and possessive. According to this theory, Ross’s ex-wife Carol hit a breaking point and took full custody of their son, which is why Ben stops coming around his dad’s apartment in the later seasons.

5. Mr. Heckles was murdered.

Rachel and Monica’s mean old neighbor dies of natural causes in season 2—or at least that’s what they want you to think. By one Redditor’s account, Mr. Heckles was killed in cold blood. Moments before he dies, Mr. Heckles shows up at Monica and Rachel’s door, complaining that their noise is disturbing his birds. (He does not have birds.) Monica says they’ll try to keep it down and as Mr. Heckles leaves, he says he’s going to rejoin his “dinner party.” Minutes later, he’s dead. Ergo, his dinner party guest killed him. Of course, the likelier explanation is that Mr. Heckles was a crazy old man who wasn’t even having a dinner party. But where’s the fun in that?

6. There's a reason why the gang always got that same table at Central Perk.

The cast of 'Friends' chats with talk show host Conan O'Brien
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

How did the gang manage to snag the coveted center couch at Central Perk every single time? Simple: Gunther reserved it for them. It was all part of his ongoing campaign to win Rachel’s affections, and it explains why the group never had to fight for seating space. Well, except that one time.

7. There's a Parks & Recreation crossover.

In “The One With All the Candy,” Rachel insists she doesn’t sleep with guys on the first date, only for her friends to immediately call her out. Monica rattles off three names: Matt Wire, Mark Lynn, and Ben Wyatt. Could she be talking about the same Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation? According to Reddit, their ages check out. Ben would’ve been 26 at the time of the episode, making him a perfectly acceptable one-night stand for 29-year-old Rachel. But how does Leslie Knope feel about this?

8. Monica was the product of an extramarital affair.

Ross and Monica’s mom doesn’t even try to hide her favoritism. Judy Geller thinks Ross is a genius and Monica is, well, trying. (But could be trying harder.) One bonkers (and since-deleted) fan theory suggests Judy’s preference stems from a family secret: At some point in her marriage to Jack Geller, she had an affair, one she could never forget because it spawned Monica. Judy’s shame over this tryst is what causes her to lash out at Monica and praise Ross, her one 'legitimate' child.

9. There's all in a psych ward.

David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt Leblanc in 'Friends.'
Getty Images

What if Central Perk wasn’t a coffee shop at all, but rather the cafeteria at a mental institution? As one theory goes, all six main characters are suffering from personality disorders. They’re confined to a facility for treatment, and can only shuffle between their rooms (i.e. their “apartments”) and the cafeteria (i.e. “Central Perk”). This situation also explains why the group is so hostile toward new people. They’re not actually teasing Monica’s new boyfriend; they’re attacking anyone who tries to take one of the friends out of the mental hospital.

10. Joey really wanted some pancakes.

This very silly—but very solid—fan theory is centered on Joey’s love of food. In “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” Joey has a one-night stand with a woman named Erin. He doesn’t want to see her again, and asks Rachel to break the news to her over pancakes. Apparently Chandler used to do this when he lived in the apartment. He’d even save extra pancakes for Joey. Rachel refuses to be a part of this, but once she’s left alone with Erin, she feels bad and offers to cook. Things escalate over the episode and pretty soon, Joey is the one who’s too clingy for Erin. Rachel has to tell him and, feeling bad yet again, she offers pancakes. Reddit claims this was all just a plot for pancakes. It kind of adds up: Joey can’t cook but likes to eat, and he has enough soap opera money to pay an actor (Erin) to play a part in this conspiracy. So he cons his roommate into making pancakes, twice, in a ruse that’s both delicious and diabolical (and, yes, a little bit silly).

This story has been updated for 2019.

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