As this isnt a review of “Let the Last One In”, there’s going to have lots of spoilers after this break.
In the final scene of “Let the Last One In”, Eli the vampire is in a light-proof box tapping out in Morse code the word “kiss” to Oskar. They are on a train together. Oskar is well dressed, happy, alone and twelve. For him, the adventure is only just beginning and full of hope. For us, the audience, his future remains ambiguous.
Of all those futures that may happen the pair from that point, there are three that stand out to me.
The first is hinted at in the film itself. When Eli first appears in Oskar’s life, she is accompanied by a man in his forties. He looks after her, kills for her and cowers before her like a dog when she rages at him. All the way through, the love in his ravaged eyes is as constant as the despair. When he is finally caught by the police and Eli visits him, he offers his blood to her, a final gift that she receives with little ceremony and without much grief. She has moved on by then to Oskar and by the end of the film as the boy’s fondness for her grows and is seemingly reciprocated, Oskar’s future fate begins to resemble more and more that of the older man’s.
Perhaps, in 40 or so years, Oskar too will be drained and discarded as Eli moves on in her perpetual childhood to the next boy. In the meantime, Oskar’s love for her would have changed from that of a boy with his first love to that of a man for a daughter. In the book, the older man is a peadophile but I prefer the movie’s version where there is room to read the older man as a surrogate father instead, struggling to keep his disabled child alive.
The second future follows current narrative trends in the vampire genre. The fantasy that runs strongly through the genre is the fantasy of conversion, the dream of being accepted by a vampire and transformed into one. Judging from the popularity of the genre, it’s no longer just goths and kinksters that are fascinated by the idea of becoming paler and thinner. Of all the pros of being a vampire, I’m not sure which of them forms the heart of the attraction. Is it something as simple as the fact that most vampires are now portrayed as beautiful or does it come from a fear of death and a corresponding desire for immortality?
Whatever it is, in this second future, Eli will not wait too long before she converts Oskar. By doing this, she elevates him and diminishes them both. They will both become vulnerable to daylight and other humans but at least they will share the dangers together as equals. There is something about the two of them permenantly 12 and permenantly together that is endearing but ultimately, it has the same feel of unreality and wish-fulfilment that weakens the genre.
In the third future Oskar as he grows will see Eli for what she is: a vampire, a being who not being alive can only take life, a being incapable of change. He would see through the romantic attraction behind the myth of the vampire. He would see that she would be dependent on him for the rest of his life and as he outgrows her, he would see that linking his future to hers can only doom him. And so Oskar will leave Eli, knowing that while it would hurt her, it will also save him. The thing about this future is that Eli, being perpetually and permenantly 12 will never have the ability to understand why Oskar has to leave and will only be able to see it as abandonment and betrayal.
Writing this, it occurs to me that there is after all a fourth future. One in which Eli through her relationship with Oskar, understands that she will finally and inevitably turn Oskar either into something like herself or into the older man. Her capacity to do this is also hinted at in the movie. There is a scene where Oskar cuts himself and Eli, unable to control herself, laps up the blood that has spilled on the floor.
“Run away” she snarls at him through her blood-lust and when he does not, she runs out the room instead.
So perhaps, this is the real future after all. One in which Eli transcends her nature and manages to save one person that has got so close to her. But in keeping with her true nature, I cannot help but think that in this future, she will inevitably leave him for another boy. That perhaps, this is the only way she can do it.