It’s easy to fall for 2008 Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, the dark and delicate tale of a lonely 12-year-old boy who connects with an equally haunted young girl. Except she may not really be that young…or even exactly human. Sure, the movie is filed under horror, but its darkness is rooted in a tender coming-of-age story, directed by Tomas Alfredson from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel. I’ve seen Let the Right One In six times, own two DVD versions (since the subtitles were so royally screwed-up the first time), and I’ve even sampled footage of main characters Eli and Oskar in this little video series I produce called Idolatry. I guess you could say I’m a fan. So, like many devotees, I had an Eli-is-hungry-now-get-out-of-the-way meltdown when the Hollywood remake was announced. I envisioned older actors. I pictured an overload of sentiment, or an overload of gratuitous action and “thrills,” or just plain overload. In short, I could only imagine that the unique spirit of the original (and the novel) would be more or less ripped to shreds by a crazed horde of demonic execs and then burned in a hospital bed, all in the name of reaching a broader audience that simply cannot be bothered to read subtitles. Skräcken! [The horror!]
Now I’ve seen the just-released American version Let Me In twice. I’m not going to review it since that’s movie critic Owen Gleiberman’s domain and I’m just the video guy, but I will say one thing to my fellow die-hard fans of the original who might still be on the fence: You’re going to want to hop off right about now to see for yourself how director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and his two young leads managed to personalize this material. After all, even Owen gave the new film a B+, and we all remember his controversial take on Let the Right One In. I’ll get over it someday. Maybe.
In the clip below, shot at New York’s SVA Theater Thursday night, I spoke to Reeves about the storytelling approach in his version vs. the original, parts of the film that echo Rear Window, his thematic deployment of Ronald Reagan’s TV speeches (the film is set in the 1980s), and how he used extensive close-ups to bring us nearer to our tragically bullied hero (now named Owen; coincidence? You decide.) played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road).
I also talked to Reeves and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) about Hit Girl’s take on the character of Abby (formerly Eli). The actress had never seen Let the Right One In, and in this clip, she discusses her entry point into the character, and how to humanize the portrayal of a vampire.
Many fans, of course, feared that the remake would alter the story–or, at the very least, the ages of the leads–to capitalize on the popularity of Bella and Edward, but as Reeves points out in our final clip, the release of Twilight ironically helped give him what he wanted all along: the opportunity to differentiate, and to remain true to the source material.
So, PopWatchers, are you planning to check out Let Me In this weekend? And if you have already, what did you think? If you’ve seen both, do you feel like the new version lived up to the standard set by the Swedish film? Let the blood flow in the comments…um, below. (I seriously did not mean to rhyme there.)