Great scenes from horror history #2: The pool scene from Let the Right One In
Hello, and welcome to another edition of the greatest scenes in horror history. In my first edition, I discussed the 1969 giallo masterpiece The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, For my second, I decided to tackle what many horror fans consider to be a modern masterpiece. Taking a realistic, bleak approach to the vampire myth, this film was voted by numerous critics as the best film of 2008, and has since gone to be an enduring chiller, which is destined to be looked fondly back on as one of the greatest horror films of the 21st century. For the second edition of great scenes in horror history, I will be discussing the infamous ‘pool scene’ in Tomas Alfredson’s majestic Let the Right One In.
Let the Right One In concerns a young Swedish victim, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), of bullying who befriends his rather odd neighbour, Eli (Lina Leandersson). Halfway through the film, Oskar realises the reasoning for Eli’s strange behaviour; she’s a vampire. This story takes up the main portion of the film, but there’s also a vital subplot in which Oskar is pursued by three bullies at school. Inspired by Eli, Oskar soon gains revenge with a brutal hockey stick defence. Things seem to look up for Oskar, until the bully he hit’s brother decides to get some revenge of his own. The film, which throughout is intensely beautiful in its violence, comes to its climax with the revenge scene; a brutal slice of psychological and physical torture with a bloody ending.
Luring everyone away from the pool but Oskar, the brother gives him a chilling ultimatum; hold his breath for three minutes underwater or lose an eye. The dialogue and tension makes you shiver, and the acting is stunning; the young bullies, realising they are in over their hear head; Oskar, an acceptance of the fact he will soon die; and the leader, a heartless performance in which the audience recognises the shame and anger he feels at his brother being disrespected. As Oskar’s head is forced underwater, a glacial chill is felt down your spine; it truly is one of the most intense horror scenes in recent years.
The disturbing punchline to the scene is what really makes it rank as one of the great scenes in horror history. Just as all hope looks lost, something odd happens in the background; some legs fly across the pool at an inhuman rate, and a head drops to the floor. As Oskar is released and dives back up, he is confronted with Eli, and a long shot of the poolside shows the chaos and violence she has created. It is highly disturbing, but ultimately triumphant. It is one of the few horror scenes that will have you recoiling in horror and punching the air.
Let the Right One In is up there with the greatest vampire films of all time, and is slowly being discovered by more and more horror fans. It’s a terrific piece of work, and the pool scene is the culmination of a film that spirals downwards further and further into the dark. That’s all for the second edition of great scenes from horror history, I hope you’ll join me again for part 3!
By Harry J. Ford
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