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Posted on March 13, 2017

The Child as Vampire in Let the Right One In

Guest Post

The vampire tradition in fiction and film has served as a vehicle to explore various anxieties of western culture during the last century. Few texts, however, have explored the possibilities of representing a child as the night-dwelling and blood-sucking terror that so effectively haunts audiences. Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (2008) fills that gap, portraying the villainous vampire not as a charismatic adult male with colonizing intentions, but instead as a quiet, twelve-year-old girl whose protection of a bullied young boy leads to their friendship.  While the children in the film may appear weak and insecure, their horrific brutality towards adults proves that the young vampire is anything but innocent. Let the Right One In contributes to the vampire cultural mythology, specifically, by showing childhood monstrosity to be a result of a failed family structure.

While Let the Right One In borrows from the vampire tradition, it contributes to vampire culture by using the child vampire to suggest adult anxieties about the violent potential of children. The young vampire Eli (Lina Leandersson) serves as a “repository of adult fears about children, who are like us yet in crucial ways so different, who are both vulnerable and demanding, and in touch with the id in ways that that can elicit great anxiety…”[i] As seen in Let the Right One In, the neglect of children demonstrates the failed family structure that allows the violent impulses of Eli and Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) to surface.[ii] The adults in Eli and Oskar’s life fail to serve as a moral and ideological force capable of suppressing the violent tendencies that adults fear. Let the Right One In shows that, without these governing forces, “the power of children to inspire…terror…because of their vulnerability and uncontrollability has moved to the cultural front.”[iii] Eli’s relationship with Håkan (Per Ragnar), as well as Oskar’s distance from his parents, demonstrate how the absence of adults allows the child monster to surface.

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Posted on March 9, 2016

Post 9-11 Horror Films Reveal Collective Anxieties About Children


I frequently reflect upon how certain cataclysmic historical events permeate our popular culture. Since the turn of the century, the most notable American historic events have included 9-11, the subsequent wars, Anthrax, hurricane Katrina, the rise of social media, and recession. As someone who loves horror films and who tirelessly tries to understand the American family, this article investigates how post 9-11 issues are reflected through the family in horror films. I chose to primarily focus on the Bush presidency years because it spans most of the first decade of the century.[i] Those years also witnessed a series of notable unfortunate events that undoubtedly reverberated through our culture through the end of the decade. I argue that in the first decade of the 21st century there was a rise in family horror films that surpasses previous decades. More interestingly, there was a surge in child antagonists who presented as more innately evil than ever before.[ii]The events after September 11th, 2001 undoubtedly impacted the way we view our homes and our children.

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