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Let Me In

tn_letmeinAh shit, I hate it when this happens. I’m about to write a review for a sequel, or in this case a remake, and before I get started I figure I should go back and read what I wrote about the first one so I don’t repeat myself too much or forget something important. But it turns out I never wrote a review of the Swedish kid-befriends-vampire movie LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. And now I’m gonna review the American version of the Swedish movie everybody loves without reviewing the first one, and everybody’s gonna think I’m an asshole.

So please imagine I wrote a brilliant, in some ways moving and definitely mind-expanding and film criticism re-inventing review about how it was a very original and well made movie, I liked how the kids talked like kids and it didn’t really feel like any movie I’d seen before, pretty good, etc. Way to go, Swedes.

mp_letmeinThis American version is directed by Matt Reeves, best known as the co-creator of that TV show ‘Felicity,’ although in a little piece of trivia I should mention that he also directed the movie CLOVERFIELD. It stars Kodi-Smit McPhee (the kid from THE ROAD) as the boy now called Owen, Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from KICKASS) as the (SPOILER?) vampire now called Abby, Richard Jenkins as the serial killer guy who takes care of her like a dad, and Elias Koteas (looking like Stanley Tucci in THE LOVELY BONES) as the cop.

So this is the story of skinny, awkward, clothes-too-big 12 year old Owen, a kid in snowy Los Alamos, New Mexico. His parents are in the middle of a divorce and he doesn’t seem to have anybody to spend time with, he just plays by himself in the courtyard of his apartments. At school there’s some pricks who bully him real bad, and unlike Katherine Heigl’s character in the Matt Reeves-scripted UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY he doesn’t have an elite soldier uncle who taught him some self defense moves. He’s helpless, he even wets his pants when they’re beating on him.

So in his free time he fantasizes about getting his revenge. It’s actually pretty disturbing when he wears a Halloween mask and talks to them in the mirror or when he repeatedly stabs a tree with his little pocket knife, because there’s nothing Hollywood about it, it’s exactly like what an angry little kid would do, nothing exaggerated to make it more cool or more whimsical.

Then he meets this girl who moved in, says she can’t be his friend, but over time they sort of do become friends. He teaches her about Ms. Pac-Man and Now ‘n Laters. Even more than Oskar in the original this kid is shockingly realistic. Not idealized at all. He’s almost uncomfortably true to life. They don’t give him funny quips or smart, mature things to talk about all the time. His interests are things like sharing his love for Now ‘n Later candies and making sure Abby likes the way they taste also. He’s 12 years old.

But what he doesn’t realize is that Abby’s a vampire and her “dad” is going out at night with a garbage bag over his head murdering people so he can feed her their blood. There’s one really spectacular suspense scene where Jenkins is laying in the back seat of a car driven by some teens, passing for a junk pile, waiting to attack. And this leads to a really cleverly shot car crash scene shown from inside the car.

Like any kid that age Owen doesn’t know what the fuck is going on, so when weird things happen like his friend pukes up any food she eats or she somehow appears at his not-ground-level window it just seems like yet another thing in the huge adult world out there that he doesn’t understand. So when he asks her about it and her answer doesn’t make sense he doesn’t push the issue, he just plays along like she must know what she’s talking about. Don’t let on that you’re a kid and you don’t get it.

The camerawork and lighting and what not is really phenomenal in this thing. Small amounts of light reflecting off snow in this dreary neighborhood at night… just a really strong sense of atmosphere. Gotta give some credit to the original for inspiring it of course, but they did a great job here. This is actually the first in a new line of movies considered to be released by Hammer Studios, and that’s kind of weird but I think it really is worthy of the name.

You know what man, the Swedish version was really good, I agree with the world on that. But I guess it didn’t hit me as hard as everybody else. To be honest I got annoyed with hearing buddies of mine say it was the best vampire movie ever made and hyperbolic shit like that. You ever heard of a vampire by the name of Dracula? I think he would disagree on that.

The truth is I don’t remember LET THE RIGHT ONE IN in too many specifics. From what I can remember I think this one is very similar to the first version, except I remember something about CGI cats that wasn’t repeated here. They definitely staged the climactic swimming pool massacre about the same, though, with the kid held underwater and suddenly body parts and blood start falling in and he (and we) don’t see exactly what happens. If I was more familiar with that version this would be more of a problem because it would probly feel like too much of a rehash, but because of my situation it didn’t bother me.

The kid really makes the movie. I’m not gonna say he’s better than the Swedish kid, because that kid was great too. But Kodi Smit-McPhee is perfect. He’s so skinny and boyish. He doesn’t seem like a movie version of a kid that would be picked on in school, he seems like a kid that would be picked on in school. And he’s so isolated. We only hear his dad over the phone and his mom is always shot with her head out of frame or partially blocked or from behind, like Charlie Brown’s teacher or the adults in E.T. besides Dee Wallace or Peter Coyote. So he’s left so alone with nobody to help him with his problems but this neighbor girl who is actually not a girl at all but a hundred year old mass murdering hermaphroditic monster. But one that’s nice to him.

I’m not really sure what to make of this relationship. It’s not the murdering so much as the age difference that bothers me. When he’s grown I don’t care, he can have a gal that’s way older than him if he wants. But he’s a scrawny little kid. Abby is an adult, what’s she doing agreeing to “go steady” with this little boy?

In fact I sort of have to wonder how other people view this story (either version). I know the terms “love story” and “beautiful” tend to come up alot. The kid is obviously very relatable to some people, and there’s some wish fulfillment in his violent revenge on the bullies, but then it just perpetrates the cycle of violence until his vampire boyfriend brutally murders them. People don’t really consider this story romantic, do they? Yes, it’s sweet that this lonely kid found a companion and a protector, but now this kid is complicit in mass murder and it seems like he’s just replacing Richard Jenkins, consigned to a life of travelling around murdering people to feed their blood to this beast that never ages. I mean, if somebody chooses to live that life I guess that’s their decision, but I don’t think a 12 year old boy is ready to make that kind of commitment. I mean, he has to really live first, he has to get the wisdom and the experience and what not. Who knows if he’s even gotten to see RETURN OF THE JEDI yet. Or RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. I don’t think he has, or he’d be playing ewok out there, not stab-the-tree.

Anyway, I just think he should be able to go to high school and date girls and stuff before he dedicates his life to being an assistant vampire.

So, do we agree on that? This is a tragic, fucked up story, that’s why it’s interesting. It’s not a sweet love  story, right?

Stephen KIng called this the best American horror movie in 20 years. How about the best Americanized horror movie since THE RING? I think that would be a fair compliment that doesn’t go overboard.

There is almost a whole subgenre now of unwanted but surprisingly decent remakes. And LET ME IN is pretty much the most accomplished movie of this type so far. Good job, Matt Reeves. I don’t know why you’d do this particular job, but good job.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 at 3:24 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

80 Responses to “Let Me In”

  1. Stephen King said this is the best American horror movie of the last 20 years

  2. Asshole.

  3. I gotta admit, I didn’t like the original. It was well done, but I disliked the kids (although they were not the typical, wisecracking movie kids, they did not talk like real kids. Sorry, I don’t agree about that.) and all in all the film was more a typical “my first love”-story, only with a tacked on horror gimmick, that lacked any dramatic punch, apart from the tragic (I agree on that one!) ending.
    I might check the remake out, when it’s on TV, though. But only because I like to compare different versions of the same story and most of all I wanna know if and how Matt Reeves is able to handle a “real” (compared to CLOVERFIELD) movie .

  4. I reckon it depends on your notion of what is “Romantic”. The Knight in shining armour riding in to negotiate with the Dragon ….convince the beast to switch to vegetarianism. Meh! Saving the day is romantic as far as I’m concerned and if that involves spilling the blood of arseholes who are up to some nastiness which could end in death then it gets a teary eyed Huzzah from me. Fuck perpetuating the cycle of violence ….some motherfuckers can’t be reasoned with and if we don’t have the time nor resources for rehabilitation then I’m all for a bit of mass murder. And I don’t give a flyin fuck what age they are either. A kid being tormented on a daily basis may have other worries than not gettin to play Ewoks…..and who the fuck wants to be an Ewok anyway.

  5. I am a stickler for details, even more so when the film has a unique bend that can make it something special. This is a long winded way of me saying that the “original” Let the Right One In had that original concept that made it oh so frustrating when it got a number of the details wrong. I personally was not a huge fan of the original, just because it blew a number of the scenes with a wrong focus or shoddy execution. And I write that last sentence in reference to the characters and their development, not lighting or cinematography.

    So I approached this film with no small sense of trepidation, and I loved it unabashedly. Every single one of the moments that the original made me angry, this film handled differently, even if only subtly. The details made all of the difference in the world. I thought this was a fantastic film and I might say that it was my favorite direction, courtesy of Matt Reeves, for all of last year. Every shot was staged beautifully and when he cut, it was to propel the characters and the story and not to show that he had a budget which allowed for multiple takes. Now, I wonder if some other people have the brass cojones to remake some of the other intriguing concept, but poorly executed films from the past ten years that the internet boys rave and froth at the mouth for.

  6. @MDM ….what details do you think the original got wrong?

    Any non Americans prefer this remake?

  7. the Picaroony:

    I think most of us here are excited about movies because we love well-made movies. We’re cinephiles. I think however you might be excited about this movie on a whole other level.

    Anyway, just so you know, murder is actually wrong. And obviously this movie means a lot to you, and I’m glad for you for that. But just so you know, its just a movie.

    There’s levels of passion here that need to be navigated.

  8. Thanks BR ….I’ll come sit on your couch some day….what do you charge?

    Are you trying to tell me that people don’t get excited about death, revenge and murder in movies? ….by “people” I mean the ones who are aware they are actually watching a movie and not some fly on the wall documentary.

  9. I definitely found this film to be more tragic than the original which I think had a youth in the bloom of love type of ending to it while this one did not. I’m glad that Vern said more concisely than I could that the kid needed to experience the world before making such a choice.

    I had a similar reaction to the Karate Kid remake, I always thought the original was uplifting and a sweet romantic story then they made the kid younger and I think it became about the more important thing in the end: you probably have to decide the kind of man you want to be long before you fall in love and I like that the question of what your legacy will be doesn’t go unexplored.

  10. the Picaroony:

    Like I said, obviously this movie means a lot to you, and I’m glad for you for that. And, if I really am a cinephile as I claim to be, then dissing someone for being really, really passionate about a movie would be lame, wrong, and hypocritical of me. But that’s not what I’m saying. What am I saying?

    Well, if you hear these words

    I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

    and you don’t feel the pulse quicken and you don’t get a thrill, well then clearly, you’re posting on the wrong damn website. There also was a lost month in the early 1990s where all I did was play Doom every day 18 hours a day.

    However, I didn’t become Dylan Klebold. Nor did watching Dirty Harry turn me into Bernard Goetz.

    It’s just that what you posted above about “I’m all for a bit of mass murder” got me a little worried there for a second. But now that you write “by ‘people’ I mean the ones who are aware they are actually watching a movie and not some fly on the wall documentary” then it seems you are indeed well aware of the separation between fact and fiction.

    So: no worries, we’re good pals, pass the popcorn, “whoa! did you see that headshot!”, etc., etc.

  11. But you could say that circumstance left him with little or no choice. And I don’t think we have to believe he will replicate the vampires previous caretaker. He could easily turn around and say hold on a sec that was a bit of a hectic mess….lets think about this…..have ye ever tried nibbling on rabbit and other forest critters? ….or hows about we raid a blood donor clinic every now and then …… or lets go on-line and find some oddballs who want you to drink their blood…..or lets fight crime through vampirism……

  12. the Picaroony:

    It’s the same problem as underage sex. I’m not talking about sex amongst teenagers, I’m talking about sex between an adult and a teenager. I really don’t want to get into a giant Roman Polanski style argument, but suffice it to say, every kid deserves a childhood or teenagerhood, and if you are rushed into adulthood by an adult, then something is “stolen” from that child or teenager. Even if the child or teenager is enthusiastic, their enthusiasm is based on a lack of understanding about what they are giving up. That’s what “informed consent” means. It’s not enough to give consent, you have to be aware of what you are actually trading on. Any time an adult robs a child or teenager of their innocence, you’re talking about something unethical and just plain wrong, whether sex, or, um, vampirism.

    And as a theorists have noted, the idea of vampirism is just a cypher for sexuality. Thus the whole Twilight phenomenon. Which, again, is about teenagers rushing into adulthood. But by their own choice, not because an adult forced them too.

  13. I don’t know which details MDM is talking about, but I had the exact same problem with Let The Right One In. I didn’t believe in the characters at all, because the scenes always had some jarring details that made them feel phony to me.

    For example the first kill is done in a VERY bright, over-lit spot on a small park, there are people driving bicycles on the background, pedestrians are walking on another road close-by, etc. It just seemed completely unbelievable to me that the killer would do his deed in such a spot. EVERYONE would see him.

    Soon after that the lead boy goes outside late in the evening, in cold weather, to play with a bloody RUBIK’S CUBE. Kids who are used to living in cold, snowy environment just don’t do that. In the wintertime you separate outdoor-games and indoor-games. Rubik’s Cube is an indoor game. No kid thinks “It’s late in the night and it’s cold, snowy and dark outside. I want to play with my Rubik’s Cube – I should go outside so I can play with it!”.

    Another phony scene was the tree-stabbing scene. Which was otherwise a great and realistic idea, but a fucked-up kid like that would never do the tree-stabbing in the middle of the yard, with 200 windows surrounding him, where all of his neighbors can see the weird things he is doing. In real life he would hide behind the corner, or go deeper into the forest, so that nobody could see him acting strange. 12-year kids are very self-conscious about not coming off like crazy freaks to other people.

    Those are all just small details, but they made scene after scene feel phony. There was something “off” in every other scene in the film.

    Haven’t seen Let Me In yet, but maybe it fixes some of these things?

  14. I hear ye BR. But I’d use our old pal John Rambo as a better example of what I mean ….especially his behaviour in his last adventure. I don’t know if you enjoyed it but I did and a lot of that had to do with the extreme Rambo vengeance that was delivered upon them dastardly Burmese bad guys….. righteous slaughter in the world of fiction…. and delivered with style and finesse. Got any nachos?

  15. Cheers Tuukka. But I don’t think much of that bothered me.

    The guy was a total incompetent and everyone outdoors might have their hoods up and drawn in as far as possible or be staring at the ground to avoid the freezing wind and make sure they don’t go tits up on the ice.

    As for playing his rubiks cube out in the cold late at night….. i know a few Scandinavians and they are a whacky bunch….wife carrying championships…..and dont they eat fish that has been pickled in piss….

    and the tree stabbing …. i once saw a kid chase a cat around somebody elses garden once trying to piss on it in broad daylight …but maybe he was only 10…..

  16. I don’t know about the tree stabbing not being realistic but the reason why Let the Right One In rings as phony is when the lady jumps down the stairs with all the stuffed animal cats attached to her coat. That shit was funny and completely took me out of the movie.

  17. Picanoory, the problem is that I had to come up with excuses all the time, the moments I mentioned were just a tip of an iceberg. I actually think that Americans have less problems with any of these issues, as Swedish culture might seem exotic and alien to them anyway, and therefore it’s easier to suspend disbelief. Myself, I’m Finnish, and Finland is very similar to Sweden in countless of ways, and therefore phony things might seem more phony because of cultural familiarity.

    But I rarely have the same problems with other Finnish or Swedish movies, because most of them are far less phony than Let The Right One In. This film just made me constantly think “A real person wouldn’t do that”, and it’s rare for me to have that feeling, no matter how fantastical the story and characters might be. Even in fantasy, character motivations have to be logical.

  18. Fair enough Tuukka….I’m not a yank but it was a bit exotic to me …in a miserable, bleak and dreary sort of way. Do you guys pickle anything in piss by the way?

  19. This story is messed up for me since I read the book before they made a movie out of it.
    In the book Jenkins character turns into a pedophile zombie after he dies and chases the ‘kids’ all over town with a zombie boner.
    I just can’t get that absurd shit out of my head when I try to watch either one of these.

  20. the Picaroony:

    I only saw half of that 2008 Rambo in Burma movie. Seemed like a solid righteous revenge flick.

    I had bought tickets with a friend to “Untraceable” with Diane Lane, then we played run-around-the-movie-theatre-sneaking-into-movies all day. That’s how I saw “The Other Boleyn Girl” with Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, and Scarlett Johansson, which I never would have bought tickets too, but was really good. Even better with Nachos! ;-)

  21. So up front I have to confess that I have not seen this remake. I have only seen the original and the first time I saw it I did not know about the book and a number of the elements of the story that are left unexplained or barely touched on in the movie. I think weather or not you are familiar with the source material greatly affects how you feel about the movie.

    The first time I saw the movie I thought it was a touching love story about two outsiders that find each other and one of them happens to be sick and that disease is vampirism. I don’t know what your guys definition of love is but as a married man I feel that love has more to do with understanding and acceptance then romance. Romance is good but it is fleeting, and real love is much more about companionship and seeing someone at their worst and not turning your back on them. That is why I found the relationship between Eli & Oskar so touching. They were two children that were very alone and isolated due to their circumstances but they find acceptance and purpose in each other. However, that is how I felt about the movie when I was under the impression that Eli was a little girl that had been confined to eternal childhood as a result of her vampirism. She seemed much more Innocent upon my initial viewing of the film. She might have lived a long time but at the end of the day she is still a child, and it would make sense that she is attracted to another child. Especially one that has trouble connecting to other children. That is something she can relate to. Also, on my first viewing of the film I saw Jenkins as a sympathetic character since it is not explained he is a pedophile. To me he was what Oskar would become, and he wore the sorrow of knowing Oskar was his inevitable replacement. Then I had a friend of mine tell me about the book and spell out some of the more grim and dark details that are missing or glossed over in the film and it kind of ruined the movie for me. After learning the truth about Eli and Jenkins it was hard not to look at Eli as more of a predator and once it was clear Jenkins was a pedophile any sympathy I had for him went out the window. I no longer saw him as a sad man who knew his days with the one he loved were numbered but as a sick fuck who would kill to get the chance to live out his perverted fantasy with a castrated boy doomed to be a child forever. I still think it is a good film I just can’t enjoy it the same way anymore.

  22. When I saw LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, it seemed like a dark, dank story about a creepy kid with violent tendencies who is manipulated by an old vampire who looks like a little girl into becoming her slave. So I was pretty shocked when I found that a lot of people saw it as a sweet, if bizarre, love story about two lost souls. The only “love” I saw was the kind of “love” and protection a pimp offers his hoe in order to make them feel dependent on him. I tend to think that the folks who saw the film as an earnest love story weren’t paying enough attention.

    LET ME IN I think encourages the “love” theory by playing things more ambiguously, which I didn’t care for. Especially in the casting of Moretz who, unlike the girl in the original, is pretty and is directed to smile a lot more. The actress in the original had the uncanny ability to seem much more intelligent, much older than her appearance. Moretz seems like a talented actress, but she never seemed like anything but a kid to me in this.

    Still, I liked LET ME IN when I caught in theaters, but given its rapturous reception by critics and cinephiles (especially for a horror movie), I suspect that I seriously underrated it. If its out on blu ray now, I should really give it another shot.

  23. Dan Prestwich: By all means give it another spin but don’t assume that because the film is popular you have underrated it. Chances are that popular group have overrated it to a degree. I say this because I find your read of the original to be bang on. Trust your critical faculties.

  24. Dan, your take on the original is much more in line with how I felt about the film on a second viewing. After watching Does anyone know if the film makers intended it to be a love story.

  25. Dan, I’ll echo Darryll but put it another way: I haven’t seen this film, and having seriously enjoyed the original I must say that I probably won’t, but don’t say “you’ve underrated it”. Your opinion is your opinion. If someone’s opinion (generally speaking here) doesn’t match mine, I’ll be interested in why it was different, but don’t expect it to change my mind. It has been known to happen, but it ain’t a common occurrence.

    Plus, a helluva lot of people, in my opinion, over-rated the other extremely popular film that Chloe Moretz was in. Just because a lot of people think something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. A lot of people still think the earth revolves around the sun. (What idiots they must look now, eh?)

  26. Daryll & Paul,

    Well thank you guys for the vote of confidence. I don’t mean to say that just because something was popular means it was good. (And, actually, didn’t this under-perform at the box office?) All I mean is, so many people really loved LET ME IN, including a lot of people whose opinions I respect, that I think it warrants another viewing. Horror movies are pretty much my favorite thing in the world, so when one gets this much serious acclaim and respect, it deserves my attention. I liked LET ME IN well enough, but a lot of trusted sources seem to consider it something of a newfound classic. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I could have very easily “underrated” it the first time through, if I had watched it in the wrong mindset, or maybe didn’t focus on some of the things that folks have really admired about it.

    Of course, I need to rewatch LET THE RIGHT ONE IN again sometime too; I had basically the same experience. A lot of people found something rich and complex, where as I saw a fairly obvious vampire story bolstered by some excellent atmosphere, but hampered by some inappropriate theatrics. Then LET ME IN struck me as basically the same movie/experience but ever-so-slightly less well executed.

    Perhaps a double feature is in order.

  27. Dan — I think one of the cool things about the original (haven’t seen the sequel) is that its ambiguous enough that you can potentially see it as a horror story OR a love story. While it’s true that Eli is vastly older than Oskar , (s)he has also been living AS a child that whole time — physically, and largely in lifestyle. That’s how people relate to her, including her caretaker – they live together more like father and daughter than equal-age partners. (S)he may be old, but she’s missed the crucial stages of growing up that transform one into an adult. So, I can at least dimly imagine that she does indeed identify with Oskar, even if she’s obviously more mature than him on some levels (but hey, what 12-year-old girl ISN’T more mature than her male peers?). And of course, they are the same on some level – the same isolation, lonliness, bitterness – and they genuinely do seem to find some solace and companionship in each other. Certainly, we see Eli far more relaxed and open with Oskar then we do with her and Hakan. So while we can also see that Oskar is likely headed for the same kind of life as Hakan, I don’t think it entirely unrealistic to imagine they have a genuine connection to each other which neither had found anywhere else in life.

    On the other hand, you’re completely correct that its also totally possible that Eli is cunningly manipulating Oskar into filling a role she needs filled. Every move she makes may be calculated to further isolate him and drive him towards her. The gal who plays Eli does a great job of ambiguously emoting. Does Eli have a kind of flattened affect because of the great sadness of her circumstance, or is (s)he an inhuman monster who can barely even pretend to have real feelings anymore?

    Anyway, I don’t think reading it as a sweet story of two incredibly damaged people who find some comfort and support in each other is a completely baseless or naive reading. One of the things that makes it work so well IMHO is that it tempts you with the love story but also uses the ambiguity of the situation to create tension.

  28. oops, I meant remake, not sequel, prequel, spin-off, reimagining, or reboot. Curse you, Hollywood.

  29. Mr Subtlety,

    Gotta disagree, my friend. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve seen LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, but the movie heavily implies that Eli is not a little girl at all. In fact, “she” even tells Oskar in one scene “I’m not a girl.” Now, I know there is some debate over exactly what this means, but that scene coupled with the part where Oskar sees her weird looking genitals makes her statement quite literal. She’s not just saying she’s a vampire; she’s not even female. At the time, I thought maybe she was asexual or something to that effect.

    Apparently, in the novel what you find out is that Eli was actually a boy that had his genitals removed. Granted, the film is murky on these details so there is some leeway, but I still think it casts enough doubt on Eli’s nature that the romance angle doesn’t hold up.

    Also, her relationship to the older man only APPEARS to be father/daughter… I think we see by his grotesque devotion that it’s more of a master/slave relationship. Again, I believe there is some mention of Eli being much older than she appears, including being older than him.

    Plus, Oskar isn’t just shown as a lonely outsider. He has a fetish for knives and collects crime photos, and has a lot of pent up anger. The film essentially paints him as a future serial killer, exactly the kind of person Eli would want as her familiar.

    Reading the movie as a romance basically means ignoring all the numerous, dark hints that the film drops throughout. It means buying into Oskar’s delusions/misunderstandings. And frankly, I think seeing it as a romance makes it a much less interesting film.

  30. I find it funny that people are upset with some of the situations of the film ring false when you have to realize the movie takes place in a world with vampires. I’m guessing people don’t really pay too much attention around them not to know vampires exist. So it actually rings true that he could stab a tree in the middle of a courtyard without being noticing.

  31. Why can’t it be both? The vampire needs a thrall, the boy needs a friend. They both win. It might seem like a pretty shitty deal from the outside looking in, but it couldn’t be all bad. Her former familiar still loved her even when it was clear that his usefulness was at an end and she would be moving on without him, and she didn’t have to risk getting discovered by coming to see him in the hospital. Regardless of your reading, I’d say this vampire/servant scenario forms a pretty tight bond, with both sides get something out of the deal. For me, having the the creepiness and the sweetness of the ending intermingle is what makes it interesting.

  32. Majestyk,

    I can’t see the sweet side, because the movie heavily implies that Oskar is going to end up used and discarded, just like Eli’s old familiar. His love for her may be real, but it’s not truly reciprocated, and she’ll just move on to the next guy without a second thought.

  33. in the Swedish version of the film, I took the genital close-up as a means of illustrating that sex with Eli is literally impossible. it looks like her labia have been stitched closed, and that this was done a long time ago. and therefore the possibility of sex is completely off the table in whatever relationship she will have with Oskar, just the same as in the relationship she did have with her former caretaker.

    personally i like that interpretation a lot more than one in which the director tosses that shot in there simply to pay lip service to one of the more oblique plot points of the novel, but maybe if you’ve read it that part of the plot seems more important or something…?

  34. Sorry for the original vagueness regarding details and the fact that this is the first time I was able to approach the internet again today. But for the most part, people seem to be talking about plot details in the rest of the conversation. For me, it was slightly more subtle in regards to Let the Right One In. It was almost the filming and cutting of the scenes that affected the overall mood of several scenes in this original. For example, I hated the whole underwater-kill the bullies scene in the first one and even though the remake kept the same basic setup and payoff, the little stylistic touches and the performance made me not hate that scene in the remake.

    Same goes for the scene where he stands up to the bully while on the field trip. So what I meant to say in the first post was it is amazing how little changes in cinematography and editing can completely alter what is basically written as the same scene.

  35. Dan — I suppose I’m using “romance” a little loosely… obviously these two are not going to get hitched and raise 2.5 kids in the suburbs. They need each other, in some ways, to feed the worst in each other. But that doesn’t completely invalidate the sweetness of their relationship or mean that it’s entirely expoitive, either. Eli genuinely needs a new human gaurdian, Oskar needs a protector and an outlet for his anger — but I still think there’s genuine affection and solace gained between them. Maybe it’s not exactly a romance (it seems hopefully unlikely there will ever be any sexuality between them) but maybe in some way they’re kindred spirits, even if seperated by species and experience.

    Obviously, Eli/Harkan have a more disturbing relationship than a simple father/daughter… but it seems like at least in most of the day-to-day particulars, their relationship is structured at least as caretaker/child, rather than adult partners. I mention this only to explain why I can at least dimly imagine Eli can identify with a child, when in fact (s)he’s hundreds of years old.

    Like Mr. M, I’m not saying I’m blind to the disturbing suggestions that lie just under the film’s sweet exterior. I just think the tenderness is heightened by the darkness, rather than negated by it. I read it as a story of two people so completely damaged that healing is out of the question… but at least they’re able to find another being to share their pain and isolation with. Like SECRETARY, the film asks the question, “Why see your damage as a problem if you can find a situation where it works for you?”

  36. Yeah, but Dan, if her M.O. stays the same, that means she stayed with her caretaker ever since he was a boy Oskar’s age. That’s not “used and thrown away.” That’s “spent a life together.” Did he really think that his immortal love would stay with him forever, even if it meant her starving to death? He had to have known this is how it would end, and he accepted it.

  37. Reading your response to Mr. M, I think maybe how much you buy of the film’s touted “romance” depends on how much you buy that Eli really does care about Oskar. I’ve tried to explain why I can imagine (s)he would identify and bond with this angry 12-year-old. I’m also not sure her abandonment of Hakan exactly implies a callus disregard of the relationship. Living immortal, I imagine she has come to understand that human life is temorary and that all her relationships will eventually end with the death of her partner. That doesn’t mean, however, that she doesn’t care about them. Will Oskar end up like Hakan? Probably. Does that mean Eli just wants to use him and throw him away? I would argue that it’s ambiguous, at the very least. Certainly, the film gives us reasons to believe Eli really cares about Oskar, and possibly Hakan as well, even as it demonstrates that she is using them as well (but then again, isn’t there an element of functionality to all relationships, even very healthy ones?)

  38. One connection you didn’t mention, Vern – probably because it only matters SO much but is cool just the same – is that one of the first things Matt Reeves did in his career before even the immortal Felicity was co-write Under Siege 2. Or at least he wrote the script they rewrote to make the flick.

    Either way, I saw this for the first time last night and it kicked my ass all over the place. I really dug the Swedish original but this just. . .did it. I feel the way about this the way most people seem to worship the first one (which again, I thought was great, maybe even fantastic – but I fucking LOVE this version).

  39. I don’t know, guys. To use a wildly inappropriate metaphor, it sounds kinda like you guys are saying “Hey, it’s not really so bad that that pimp exploited that girl and roped her into prostitution. She really needed a father figure, so she’s getting something real out of it. Plus that pimp debatably actually cares about her a little.”

    I think the fact that the movie makes it clear that it’s a repeating cycle is proof enough that Eli’s feelings for Oskar aren’t real. It’s not like he woos her away from her familiar. Her old one becomes useless to her, so she ropes the next one in as quickly as possible.

    I don’t know, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I don’t really remember her mourning Hakan’s death at all. Maybe I’m forgetting something. If she does, then I maybe I see your point better.

    I didn’t mean to say I thought you guys were totally blind to the darker implications, just that I think those implications are obvious enough to shut the book on the romantic interpretation. Trying to see the sweet side of the ending just strikes me more as wishful thinking than accepting what the movie actually shows you. In fact, I don’t see “sweet exterior” at all. I found the film, from the opening frames, to be chilly, moody, unpleasant (in a good way). It’s about a creepy, unlikable kid and a vicious monster.

    On the other hand, I think your arguments make perfect sense for LET ME IN, which I thought more actively sought to emphasize both interpretation. Which I thought was to the film’s detriment. I don’t like the happy ending interpretation. It’s a serious horror film, and a serious horror film should be about upsetting the audience and challenging their beliefs. The “ambiguous” ending is a slight cop out; it allows the audience members with more delicate sensibilities to ignore the darker implications.

  40. Mr. Subtlety, it sounds like your interpretation of the film is more in line with my initial reaction to the film, but as I mentioned earlier it can easily be interpreted in a more menacing way. Dan used the great example of the type of exploitative “love” a pimp would give a prostitute to describe the relationship between Eli and Oskar, and I can see how someone might see their relationship in that manner. As I wrote previously I think the film leaves a great deal of room for interpretation, but that can be really effected by your knowledge of the the book which leaves much less room for interpretation.

    Dan, I think the whole issue of whether or not Eli is a boy or girl and if she or he has genitals is irrelevant. Their relationship is not about sex. It is about acceptance and companionship.

  41. Goddammit – just saw the reference to Heigl. That’s what I get for reading it once this morning and scanning it before I make my comment.

    The movie is awesome, anyway.

  42. Charles,

    Yes and no, I think. I agree with what you’re saying, but I think the genital scene is also important because it indicates that Oskar isn’t entering into the kind of relationship he’s maybe expecting.

  43. Is the genital scene you guys are talking about in the remake? If it is I somehow missed it.

    Not sure what to make of this one, good movie but I honestly can’t decide what I’m supposed to take away from it. Seems like the dude that wrote it used to have a junkie girlfriend or something.

  44. Vern, you’re touching on one of my favorite aspects of this story… On the surface, it’s a “boy and his monster” tale a la E.T. But at its core I think this is really an origin story for how someone becomes a vampire’s Renfield.

    Her current familiar is getting older and weirder and he’s screwing up. He needs to be replaced. And, for all we know, she picked him up when he was 12-years-old, as well. The kid is saved from the bullies, but trades his soul in return.

    He is a victim of his weakness, both by letting the bullies pick on him, and falling under the vampire’s spell. It’s hard to say if his weakness is nature or nurture, but either way he is doomed from the start, even if she “saves” him at the pool. That sort of inevitable doom is an extremely effective sort of horror.

  45. i just read he Wikipedia article and watched the trailer. I think I will give it a try.

  46. In the remake we do know from a photo that the vampire and the killer have been together since he was a boy.

  47. FlyingG,

    It’s just hard to say no to a vampire altogether. Haven’t you seen Twilight? Lol.

    No, sorry, please don’t watch Twilight. I’m begging you!

  48. you would have to have someone to take care of you though, especially if you are going to be twelve for eternity. That has got to suck!

  49. Hmm, Vern’s last comment makes me want to see this remake a lot less. I liked that the original left it open-ended what Oskar’s fate might be and why Eli wanted to be with him, it sounds like the remake is pretty clearly suggesting that he’s just supposed to become the next in a line of serial killers (or at least that’s her cynical plan for him). It’s too pat if they spell that out for the audience. I remember I was actually glad when I read wikipedia’s article on the book and learned that *wasn’t* the deal with her caretaker originally, that he was just some kind of sicko pedophile…

  50. (SPOILER?)

    In the American remake the vampire was a gorgeous girl. That sucked. In the original movie Eli is a castrated boy.

  51. I don´t get why everybody likes the American remake of The Ring. That little zombie girl is not scary. Sadako gave me nightmares, but that girl looked like a random demon from Buffy.

  52. Vincento- I agree, I saw that in the cinema and it was silly and flat out boring. Never saw the original

    Never seen LET THE RIGHT ONE IN either. I know it’s childish of me but it brings to mind an off-putting image of a cartoonishly exaggerated film critic stroking his goatee and saying “well, you see it’s not reaaaaaaaaaaallllly about vampires…”

  53. Majestyk: Your description of the vampire/servant bond is quite touching. I never get that kind of bond with the people I scan.

  54. Vincento, she’s a castrated boy in the American one, too. They just don’t explicitly show you the genitals.

  55. Oh jeez… The original Ringu is a convoluted mess shot in a really pedestrian manner. The American remake is superior in EVERY way (except for originality of concept). The Ring 2… notsomuch.

  56. Dan — I guess I see the movie more like SECRETARY: two people who are hopelessly damaged and isolated by their damage, but happen to stumble across a partner who complements that damage perfectly. You can argue maybe it’s not the most healthy relationship, but on the other hand if they’re happy and finally have a little companionship, who can argue? I don’t exactly reject your pimp/prostitue analogy, since it’s clear that there’s a power imbalance between them, but the way I see it its more like a Pimp who genuinely connects with and cares for his Hos (and is also manifestly unable to have a relationship with anyone BUT his Ho’s.) It’s literally the only possible personal connection Eli is able to have, and the same is likely true with Oskar. They’re both damaged, and they have a damaged relationship .. but surely it’s better than being alone. It’s functional for both of them but that doesn’t mean it’s not personal, too.

  57. I love how in the original Eli is still a kid, even though she/he is more than a hundred years old.

    Usually in vampire movies the kid vampires are portrayed as adults trapped in a child’s body, but in Let The Right One In there’s this wonderful line where she says something like “I’m 12 years old, but I’ve been 12 for a very long time.”

  58. Mr Subtlety,

    I definitely understand what you’re saying, but it has so many caveats in it that it’s hard for me to see why someone would find it sweet. Basically, it’s a sweet love story if you’re okay with Oskar being exploited because maybe he gets something out of it, if you’re okay with him becoming a mass murderer, if you’re okay with Eli’s version of “love” being based more around mercenary need than emotional affection, etc etc.I understand what Eli and Oskar get out of the relationship, and why they think it’s a good deal (maybe), but that doesn’t mean I can see it in any way as sweet or romantic.

    And the difference, to me, between this and SECRETARY is that in SECRETARY there was humor, lightness, and the characters at least seemed to be enjoying themselves. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is so dour and joyless and bleak, I just get confused when people describe it as a story about young love.

    And now I’m dying to hear your thoughts on LET ME IN, if you ever see it. It definitely fits your interpretation of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN even closer, with some interesting specifics of its own. I think you’ll dig it. Let me know if you ever see it.

  59. I think slasher films are better than vampire movies yet this thread has 58 responses and Hatchet II only has 6. I feel it should be reversed despite the quality of the two being completely different.

  60. Sternshein,

    I too favor slasher movies to vampire movies. I just think this is a matter of a more people who post here having seen either/both LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and LET ME IN than have seen HATCHET 2. HATCHET 2 was barely released in theaters and only just came out on DVD, so not many people have had a chance to see it.

  61. “Basically, it’s a sweet love story if you’re okay with Oskar being exploited because maybe he gets something out of it, if you’re okay with him becoming a mass murderer, if you’re okay with Eli’s version of “love” being based more around mercenary need than emotional affection, etc etc.”

    But all of this is based on the interpretation that Eli wants him to become the next version of the old killer guy–in LET THE RIGHT ONE IN it was ambiguous if she had actually known the old guy when he was a kid, and in the book it’s actually explained that wasn’t the deal at all, he was just a pedophile. If you think Eli might not want to use Oskar to help her find victims, that maybe she had never formed a connection to a kid before, and that her own brain really was frozen in a 12-year-old state, then it is possible to see it as a sort of sweet love story, not a mercenary pimp/ho relationship.

  62. Hypnosifl,

    But aren’t we extrapolating too much there? I’m not getting a sense that folks are able to cite a lot of scenes that really reinforce what they see as the genuine romantic angle of the film.

    I’ll definitely say upfront, I’ve only seen the movie once and it was a few years ago, so it’s not as fresh on my mind. I’m happy to be shown the errors of my ways here, and in fact these discussions have re-sparked my interest in the film and I hope to watch it again some time soon.

    Your point that Hakan was not ensnared by Eli as a child like Oskar (which does happen in the remake) is a good point, but I don’t think it invalidates what I’m saying. From what I remember of the film, its clear that Eli is is doling out some form of “love” to Hakan (i.e. in their intimate scene right before he dies), but I don’t really recall her mourning his death, or sensing a conflict between her supposed affection for Hakan and Oskar. Instead, one dies and she tries to suck in the next one as soon as possible.

  63. Dan Prestwich: I think what Mr. Subtlety is trying to articulate is a more doomed, sad or tragic kind of romance than what you’re thinking of. There’s very little that is sweet about the romance. Think less American romance and more European gothic romance, like WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Or sort of like that sad, hopeless romance you get in a Wong Kar Wai movie. Except with more undead in it.

  64. I read the book before watching the original, so I never had any doubt about Hakan and Elis relationship. The book is basicaly a sweet, if dark story about an abused kid who finally meets somebody who doesn`t want to exploit her. If the american version actually shows a picture of Eli and Hakan as kids, it totally misses the point of the novel. Hakan is just another pedo of many, that Eli has used as a helper.

    And I thought the point of Eli being neither a boy or a girl, even asexuel, was to underline that it`s a story about friendship, not romance.

  65. Dan and Jareth — nah, actually I think the message of the book is summed up in its title — LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Yes, it’s about vampires needing to be invited in, but it’s also about finding the right people to let into our lives. I actually don’t think it’s a doomed romance, exactly. Their lives are still going to be pretty rough, but I think from the available evidence we are meant to conclude that they genuinely do identify with each other and connect on a real human level which neither of them had previously known. It’s “romantic” (if at all) only in the sense that it’s sort of structured like a romance film, where two characters gradually come together and eventually exit the film as partners.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I actually find the case that Eli is trying to “recruit” Oskar somewhat less supported than the case that they simply find some solace in each other. For example, before she swoops in and kills the bullies, Eli seems to be genuinely leaving without Oskar. In order to really believe she’s just intending to use him up and throw him away, you have to assume that she set all this up so she could swoop in and save him. That seems far less likely than just taking the film at the characters at their word. The obious emotional significance of being ‘let in’ — particularly given Eli’s dramatic demonstration of what will happen if Oskcar rejects her — also points to a vulnerability on Eili’s part which might not seem quite as obvious given her age and powers. Aside from her treatment of Hakan, the movie doesn’t even particularly suggest that this is what she has planned for Oskar. It’s certainly a possibility, but from what we see IN the film, it’s mostly Eli protecting Oskar, not the other way around. Could you argue that she’s only doing this because she needs him and wants to secure his trust? I guess, but it seems to me that the film gives you little reason to doubt her sincereity, other than the fact that she might have a motive to be less than sincere. After all, isn’t it just as likely that rather than being her new Renfield, Eli is going to bite Oskar and the two of them can be young together forever?

    I feel like you guys arguing that the film is actually a tale of cold-blooded manipulation (Vern and Dan, mostly) are being a little racist towards vampires. This is a Renfield story only if you think all vampire stories play out the same way, with the vampire inevitably being an evil succubus. To me, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is only incidentally about vampirism. I know I sound like one of those asshole critics who play down the horror aspect so they can feel better about respecting the film, but in this case I barely even consider it a horror movie. In any great vampire movie, vampirism is almost always a metaphor for something, but in this case it feels like the core of the movie is the budding connection between these two damaged, isolated youngsters. She’s a vampire because that condition embodies unbearable suffering, power, neediness, isolation, and vulerability, not because the author felt like the world needed a classier vampire flick. There’s a horror aspect, but mostly I consider this to be Swedish 400 BLOWS. More about what happens to kids who suffer beyond anything they can take, and how desperate they are for some — any — kind of human connection than about an ageless monster and her helper.

    So yeah, it’s a broken, desperate, tragic kind of relationship. Neither of these kids is ever going to be close to OK. But I still completely think they both leave the film feeling less alone than perhaps either has ever felt before.

  66. Every time I try to post on here I end up writing a fucking diatribe. Well, I think the fact that Owen sees the photos of Abby and the young predecessor has a pretty big impact on the film, and is germaine to the lively debate going down on this thread.

    Vern pointed out that the film is fairly uncanny in showing you a child’s perspective. Owen simply accepts Abby showing up at the window as part of a world in which many things are misunderstood. I felt like this was also true of Oskar in the original. You don’t feel like Oskar is saying explicitly “I realize that this means I will end up growing old as an androgynous vampire’s pet serial killer, until I am no longer useful and will be replaced by another twelve year old years down the line.” I suspect that Owen finds the photos in the remake to spell out this connection better for American audiences, whom Hollywood stubbornly assumes have no ability to perceive “subtle” things. But it really changes the flavor for the movie to insist that Owen knows exactly what is in store for him and throws down with Abby anyway.

    But, and this is a huge but, recall that Owen rejects Abby after seeing the photo and making the connection. She then comes over and they go through the whole bit where he doesn’t invite her in. This is a key sequence. Here is Owen/Oskar, this loser kid who would never think he could have a girlfriend at all let alone his vaguely magical, mysterious neighbor crawling naked into his bed. But then he figures out she’s a vampire, which must be pretty crushing. Here, he is hazing her for being a vamp. She allows herself to be hazed — maybe she is being a calculated demon, or maybe Owen has awakened a curiosity in her, a willingness to experiment with rules that she’s always accepted but never tested out (note: my girlfriend points out that she HAS done it before, but ah well). Here, Owen finds out that being a vampire doesn’t just make her powerful, it makes her fragile. I love that he breaks through the awkward tension in their relationship both times she tries to be more human for him and fails (she barfs out the Now n Later and its the first time he embraces her).

    Owen isn’t trading his soul for her ability to protect him from bullies; even for him, it is her need for him that brings them together, and it’s because Owen is really a sweet kid. I guess I don’t think you need Abby’s motivations to be good or innocent for it to be a touching love story. The idea of accepting/loving what you know will destroy you totally fits with my tragic/romantic sensibilities.

    I mean, when I was a kid, I had an active imagination and a rich internal world. I would set up toys around my room and stage Tolkein-esque epic battles and political intrigue. Life seemed unimaginably dire and dramatic, and I would fantasize all the time about things like, what if Batman showed up and needed a new sidekick? What if I had to convince Frodo, at the critical moment, to toss the ring in the fire? If I were Vader, how would I have showed the Emporer I was hella dark and badass but still thrown down for my kid? When I got slightly older, drama in my personal life seemed like the biggest deal in the world: what girls would or wouldn’t talk to me at school, all of that. Shit seemed life and death, right?

    Owen seems to be this type of kid, but his fantasy world has become a dark twisted place because of being bullied, being insecure, having fucked up parents, etc. He seems to have similar fantasies in which he casts himself as a more powerful entity, and then he actually finds himself befriending a real-life vampire. The stakes must be unimaginably high for Owen! He’s probably been practicing for just such a situation without considering that he would ever put his training into effect. It’s like, you live in a world governed by adults who seemingly have this alien, unknowable set of values. Then you’ve gone steady with a vampire, so obviously it was your fantasy world that was true all along, and the adult values must not apply.

    So when the cop is about to roast Abby alive by opening the window, I totally sympathized with Owen’s decision to protect his (at this moment defenseless) friend. And once he’s made the split-second decision that you can’t really fault him for making, he really has no choice but to run off with her right? And that’s before she slaughters several children whom Owen’s already gotten in trouble for assaulting.

    I dunno. If you’ve ever seen the 1996 anime Metropolis, there’s the whole scene at the end where the boy has finally reunited with his android girlfriend, but at this point she’s been reprogrammed into a mindless killing machine (or something) and is literally no longer herself. But this kid cares about her so much that, even as she’s literally coming towards him like a juggernaut of death, he is reaching out to her to save her. This sort of thing breaks my heart into little pieces, and I’ve never seen it done better than in this vampire thing.

    I have nitpicky things that I prefer in the remake or in the original, but more or less I think they are part of the same vibration and I’m glad some people got to see the story who wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been released in the US.

  67. Some say FELICITY was a good show but how would I know because I never watch that sort of thing although many fine actors have emerged from the cast including the dude from THE UNIT who surprised the shit out of me by being so engaging in THE UNIT after playing an equally interesting-but-totally-neurotic nerd on FELICITY (or so some say because I would never watch that type of show). Word, Vern. Reeves has a future in the biz, in my opinion.

  68. As others may have pointed out, in some vampire lore, even though you are thousands of years old you do not retain all the knowledge and experiences (and therefore maturity) of someone thousands of years old. It’s like your mind is stunted only at that level of being a “kid” until “something” might jar a spurt of maturity. In other words, a kid vampire isn’t necessarily like the little genius girl (Alicia Witt) in DUNE who has the smarts of multi generations in her head and there for can only talk and relate like some kind of midget freak. A vampire kid is often just a confused kid who has to drink blood and murder but otherwise is still a kid. Sure, it makes no sense but logic is not the stuff of vampire fiction.

  69. Mr. Subtlety: The “recruitment” angle is even more downplayed in the American version, in part because Chloe Moretz’s physicality and performance are more gentle than Lina Leandersson’s, but also because of a subtle but noticeable shift in emphasis in the script. The American version plays up Abby’s vulnerability; the original version plays up Eli’s otherness. Also, there are no CGI cats in the American version to underscore the supernatural elements.

    Renfield: It seems to me that too much is being made out of the photographs of Abby and young “Father” in the American version. It’s not shown as a big “a-ha” moment; it’s just one of several things Owen passively sees lying around Abby’s apartment.

  70. With regards to the idea that the girl(actually a castrated boy in the book and Swedish movie) is a 100 years older than the boy so it’s somewhat creepy it’s a bit more complicated than that. In the book and I believe the original cimeatic version the girl states that she is 12 but she has been 12 for a very long time. The suggestion being that her intelligence and the way she looks at things is through the eyes of a child still, though she’s been around for a long time so she still hasn’t got the sensibilities of an adult. Again in the book and the Swedish film her helper has not been with her since he was a child.The book has more sexual overtones in that he was a teacher who’s dismissed for fondling his charges at school, and he meets the vampire at a low point in his life. He also know she is a boy. There is a sexual tension in the Swedish film as well. Is it a love story? Sort of, are we meant to judge it on a moral scale – no, it’s a fiction. Can someone really run through a shower of bullets like BRuce Willis without getting killed – no it’s a fiction. Like the the stories of Charles Perrault it is just something to amuse.

    Anyway, I normally don’t watch remakes but I trust Vern’s opinion so in this case I’ll make an exception.

  71. I obviously got to his discussion late, and didn’t take the time to read through all proceeding 70 comments, so don’t know if anybody else has made this complaint, but my biggest problem with this film was the score. I found it overly melodramatic and it really put me off the whole film. I think I could’ve enjoyed it as much as the original film, as from memory I think the rest of the film was well made, but man, I just could not get behind the score, which kind of surprised me, since it’s that fine fellow who did Star Trek and Speed Racer and a bunch of other films, and whose name I’m obviously having trouble remembering. Micahael Giaccome or something like that.

  72. Michael Giacchinno.

  73. I didn’t notice the score much, but I liked the pop songs on the soundtrack – nostalgia worked in my favour since I was about the same age as the main characters BITD.

    I found the story ultimately to be very sad and I thought about how I would have read the film if I had seen it when I was 12. I think I would have thought it was awesome that the kid was a vampire and kicked ass for the boy, and that it was kickass and cool he was taking off with her for a life of crazy adventure. When I was a kid that was my big fantasy, living on my own Pippi Longstocking style, and I bet that’s true for a lotta kids. Sure it would probably mean killing to keep her “alive”, but when I was a youngster, I was reading SF,fantasy and horror, seeing movies about fantastical and scary stuff and I’m pretty sure killing didn’t seem as terrible to me then as it does now. I think morality accrues as you age.

    There was a romantical sweetness in the story with regards to first love and how the boy was falling for the vampire girl, but I agree with folk here who think the tragic romaticism in the flick was more that she was like a pimp recruiting a ho, grooming him to be her sunshine shoeshine boy, polishing off blood sources and he was naive and blind to the consequences of being with her. Whatever happens after the film ends is up for grabs, but I’m pretty sure it’s not gonna be a wonderful life for the boy.

  74. OK, so I finally saw LET ME IN and unfortunately while I thought it was a perfectly respectable film I liked it less in virtually every way than the original. It’s louder and flashierand even perhaps prettier and sleeker… but unfortunately there’s one one effective scene in the whole thing that the original doesn’t easily surpass just by being quiet and still. Starting with Jenkin’s death seems like a desperate attempt to engage bored American audiences — it adds nothing to the film and in fact only serves to inexplicably highlight a relatively unimportant but dramatic sequence featuring minor characters. As much as I like Elias Koateas, it’s also totally useless to have a stock cop character. The remake does interestingly sort of sweeten the relationship between more-approachable Abby and Owen, which also makes its decision to make the relationship between Abby and Jenkins’ character more explicit more interesting. But the whole thing just feels a little too Hollywood for it to have the same impact as the original. Everything just feel weaker and less intense than the original, from the characters to the bullying to the kills to the conflicts (Having the cop instead of the boyfriend/husband in the apartment at the end makes it seem much less suspenseful. He as no clue what he’s up against and certainly isn’t interested in killing Abby. Potentially, it could be interesting to have a her kill a more innocent guy, but since the movie isn’t interested in exploring this aspect it just makes it all less suspenseful). Adding Reagan and Jesus iconography doesn’t really do anything for the plot, either. Maybe they’re suggesting a cold-war “Evil Empire” analogy? If so, it’s pretty weak and unnecessary, IMHO.

    So, loved the original, thought the remake was well-made but nothing special and wholly unable to recapture the magic of its inspiration.

    HOWEVER, watching the remake has only furthered my original opinion that you folks who think this is not a love story are a bunch of nuts. The original might have left some room for ambiguity, but the remake is about two notches above TWILIGHT in terms of romance. I’m honestly baffled that anyone would walk away from it thinking that Owen and Abby do not have at least some level of love for each other. I mean, it’s so obviously a film about the fragile, akward start of a relationship between these two broken kids that seeing it any other way is kind of stunning. I don’t mean to disperage your unique perspectives, or minimize the somewhat disturbing implications of their relationship, but I honestly don’t know how it could fail to read as sweet on at least some level.

    SDAL – -couldn’t agree more that the cheesy Hollywood score really loused up the ramake which is otherwise pretty OK. Don’t get the need for the 80’s pop songs either (or the 80s setting, for that matter).

  75. Subtlety,

    Well, I agree that in LET ME IN the romance angle is clearly played up. But then so is the manipulation angle. I think Reeves is trying to make it ambiguous (whereas I just flat out don’t think the romance is a real part of the original), which I don’t really like because it takes the film’s core disturbing concept, but leaves enough wiggle room where people can ignore the disturbing implications. Slightly cop-out-ish in my book.

    Still, it doesn’t change my perception of the original. Clearly Matt Reeves is of the the opinion that, even if the two aren’t in love, then the audience should be lead to believe that they might be. But I really don’t feel like the original pushes that as hard.

    And I completely agree with you on the opening of the remake. Besides the fact that the whole starting in the middle then going back to the beginning structure is way played out and boring, it doesn’t even seem to serve much of a point except to inject some action into the early scenes. It’s such a shame too, because otherwise the movie is admirably atmospheric and deliberately paced, which so few horror movies seem to have the guts to be any more. The opening just seems like a concession to modern attention spans.

  76. Dan — doubt you or anyone else will ever see this, but to me one of the nice things about LET ME IN is that by focusing a little more on Jenkins’ character, you get a better sense of the disturbing life in store for Owen while still playing up the love story. By making Abby and Jenkins’ character (does he have a name?) have an explicit romantic history together (and even showing a moment of genuine tenderness between them) Reeves allows us to see that believing they genuinely love each other does not exactly mean that we can’t be horrified at the implications, either. So yeah, Abby and Owen do genuinely find love and companionship in each other… but that doesn’t mean Owen won’t someday find himself in police custody with his face burned off, his life spent as a nomadic serial killer.

    BTW, since I’m shouting into the void, any guesses as two the three notably added elements: Jesus, Satanism, and Ronald Reagan (ie the good, the bad, and the ugly?). Satanism and Reagan seem to explain whý it’s set in the 80s, but what’s Reeves getting at by forcing those elements in there?

  77. Jim Emerson had a few thoughts on the subtext in LET ME IN on his blog:


    He includes some quotes by director Matt Reeves. They are interesting, but I’m not sure that any of what Reeves says actually comes across in his movie.

  78. “So please imagine I wrote a brilliant, in some ways moving and definitely mind-expanding and film criticism re-inventing review about how it was a very original and well made movie, I liked how the kids talked like kids and it didn’t really feel like any movie I’d seen before, pretty good, etc.”

    I’d rather you had writen that review for real, ’cause nobody writes them as you do. It’s impossible for me to image your reviewing style. So, get bitching, Vern! No slacking!

  79. “he just plays by himself in the courtyard of his apartments”

    Mix this with the knowledge that he is 12 years old and discoreving some thingsa bout his own body for the first time, and this line takes a whole new meaning.

  80. I finally caught up with this. I was big fan of the Swedish version. I was open to the idea of a remake, I just expected that lightning wouldn’t strike twice.

    I was wrong.

    I was shockingly moved by Let Me In. I actually feel more surprised by this version than the Swedish one. Yeah, for most people it was flying under the radar, but if you’re the type of person who has multiple movie news and review sites bookmarked, word spread fast. The hype was practically instant. Naturally, the hype wasn’t so unanimous for Let Me In. It allowed me to be more surprised.

    My favorite summation of the two films comes courtesy of the book’s author, John Ajvide Lindqvist:

    “I might just be the luckiest writer alive. To have not only one, but two excellent versions of my debut novel done for the screen feels unreal. Let the Right One In is a great Swedish movie. Let Me In is a great American movie. There are notable similarities and the spirit of Tomas Alfredson is present. But Let Me In puts the emotional pressure in different places and stands firmly on its own legs. Like the Swedish movie it made me cry, but not at the same points. Let Me In is a dark and violent love story, a beautiful piece of cinema and a respectful rendering of my novel for which I am grateful. Again.”

    Hell, I’m just thankful we got two awesome movies.

    Notice he called it a “love story” too.

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