Everything is calm just above the surface. I squirm nervously in my seat, helplessly watching as young Oskar is led into a watery trap.
While I found the whole film to be brilliant, it’s the final moments of Let The Right One In that forever sealed it in my subconscious. Apart from all the bloody dismemberment, there’s something quite haunting about the pool scene. It’s a flawlessly executed sequence, with slow-burning tension. The part that left a lasting impression for me was the synth-pop tune “Flash in the Night” playing on the radio. It’s this one small added detail that lent a haunting realism to the moment. The song immediately triggers for me a flood of nostalgia and emotional triggers.
I’ve embedded the scene here, but don’t bother watching it if you’re unfamiliar with the film (or at least have seen the American version, Let me In).
Even though I’m not particularly Swedish, nor do I specifically remember growing up listening to Secret Service, I feel a strange connection to that moment in the film. As a child of the eighties, I lived in a snowy mountain town not unlike the one in the movie. My afternoons spent hiding away in the community center swim league were the few, brief times in my childhood where I wasn’t besieged by bullies. Sadly though, I didn’t have an ancient vampire girlfriend to assist me with solving my rubik’s cube or to violently dismember those that sought to harm me.
This scene played out in both the Swedish and American versions of the film, and each were effective in their own right. I really adore them both, however there’s something that resonates from the original film that took me a while to sort out. I just needed to figure out if I identified with it more strongly just because it was the the first version of the story I watched. Possibly, but I think it’s more than that. While both films are set in the early 80’s the Swedish version, particularly in the character of Oscar, captured the not only the innocent nature of an adolescent boy, but also the naivety of a different time. While set in the same time period, the American version has a modern awareness just under the surface that kept me from fully buying in to the setting.
Maybe all it needed was a little Secret Service playing on the radio.