How the horror series based on a Swedish novel rehashed the trend of vampire shows, and still fell flat.
In October 2022, Showtime debuted the horror/thriller series “Let the Right One In,” inspired by the 2004 Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The show tells the story of a single father and only daughter duo, Mark (Demián Bichir) and Eleanor Kane (Madison Taylor Baez). The daughter, Eleanor, is mentally a 22-year-old adult but stuck in a 12-year-old’s body due to being bitten and turned into a vampire at that age. Mark moves her and himself to New York City in hopes of beginning a new chapter of their lives.
The duo soon becomes close to their neighbors down the hall, 12-year-old aspiring magician and school outcast Isaiah Cole (Ian Foreman) and his single mother, Detective Naomi Cole (Anika Noni Rose). Isaiah and Eleanor form a friendship as they both connect to feelings of being an isolated, outcast and misunderstood kid.
While this relationship was interesting to see, viewers also got to witness the romantic bond between Naomi and Mark all while their children’s relationship slowly developed into romantic feelings as well.
As a viewer, I felt allured by Isaiah at first. Many other people were probably also wondering why he was such a socially awkward boy as the child of a homicide detective for the NYPD. The show opened up halfway about the Cole family’s past, revealing that Isaiah’s father is a recovering drug addict in and out of rehab. We also saw how Isaiah is severely bullied for liking magic, and how Eleanor comes to the rescue against the bullies multiple times.
Analyzing Eleanor, on the other hand, it was revealed that her mother, Mark’s wife, is no longer living with them due to Eleanor accidentally drinking too much of her blood. The two kids with chips on their shoulders bonding through their experiences of having absent parents made much more sense. However, that trope is played out in television and film, making the plot much more predictable. Putting their single parents together was also even more of an unsurprising storyline that was not needed.
Throughout the ten episodes, Mark is on the hunt for a cure for the disease as he believes Eleanor’s nocturnal traits and thirst for human blood are from. Meanwhile, scientist Claire Logan relocates to upstate New York moving into her sick father, Arthur Logan’s, home to continue on his work. Arthur faked her brother Peter’s death, having her believe her brother was gone for a decade. Claire’s personality traits are described as being a driven, workaholic, successful scientist who does not have a strong relationship with her family. While her brother, Peter, is a hopeful, naive and impulsive teenager making bad decisions left and right.
Viewers only saw a glimpse of their sibling dynamic, but not enough to give them as much screen time as they did. It would have been more productive to show flashbacks of Claire and Peter as kids, showing how they ended up where they did. Viewers were not granted a visual of how Peter was bit and turned into a vampire. Additionally, there was still a lot of mystery about Claire’s relationship with her father, Arthur, and what happened to their mother.
What can be appreciated is the acting performances themselves. Tony award-winner Anika Noni Rose delivered a phenomenal performance as a supporting character. Rose, Bichir, Baez and Foreman played their roles as best as they could, but the script did not live up to the performances.
Furthermore, the script does not deliver any content that stands out from the rest of the vampire shows in the queue. Toward the last episodes, the puzzle pieces begin to come together. Eleanor and her father Mark discover Claire and Peter in their operation to find a cure once and for all to turn her back into a mortal human and relieve her of the vampiric symptoms. Plenty of meaningless action and fighting scenes happen between Peter Logan and the family bodyguards and Eleanor and Mark.
The show concludes with one of the leading human characters being brutally beaten to the point where death is around the corner – leaving no other option but for Eleanor to bite them, turning them into a vampire, and continuing the cycle of immortality. This ending is relatively similar to the season finale of “First Kill,” the series “The Vampire Diaries,” and the supernatural franchise “The Twilight Saga,” where becoming “one of them” is the only alternative to death. This type of conclusion comes as no surprise and brings a foreseeable end to this story. Hopefully, next season will bring more surprising elements where viewers won’t be able to accurately guess the finale.
Header illustration by Yù Yù Zander