I watched Let The Right One In (from here on out we’ll abbreviate to LTROI) a few years ago and absolutely loved it (I enjoy watching foreign language films even if I have to read them). I loved it, loved it, loved it. It would probably be considered “boring” but, as an only child, I really identified with the main male character Oskar. It can be kinda sad growing up without much companionship, especially when you get into those puberty years when everything seems very lonely and you’re bored all the time. But I guess this is what made me who I am – having spent my time alone reading, watching horror movies and Star Trek / Doctor Who my whole life (until I got a car I suppose). Anyway, I really felt for skinny, thin haired Oskar and his loneliness, sitting around all day doing nothing. Then a grown man and a small “daughter” move in next door to him, and he begins to take a shine to her, and likewise, she to him. I liked Eli (the female lead, pronounced like Ellie) as the subdued, despondent seeming new girl who doesn’t want to be friends with Oskar, but eventually grows to love him.
This movie, while technically a “horror” movie because it has a little blood and a vampire in it, is more of a “coming of age and finding someone out there to love and believe in” movie than what people would think of as a “horror”. So – people thinking, oh cool a new vampire movie that’s not Twilight might have gone in and been disappointed. This is a movie about estrangement and loneliness – with a vampire who needs human blood to live. When I found out that America was remaking this little treasure, I was very disappointed. Then, it turns out it’s being remade by the director of “Cloverfield”, which, to me, was pretty lame after all the hype it got for soooooooooooo long. But, the trailers looked good enough and I snuck out to see it when it came out. It didn’t hurt anything that the WONDERFUL Chloe Moretz, the little beauty Hit Girl from Kick Ass, was taking the lead as “Abby” (not Eli). I sure did love her in Kick Ass.
Let Me In (LMI) didn’t disappoint me in any way. They changed Eli to Abby and Oskar to Owen, they left some things out and put some cool new stuff in and I really enjoyed LMI. A lot of people are probably going to think this is a boring movie, but it’s not supposed to be an action packed glam fest, like I described above, this is a coming of age, finding someone like you, finding acceptance movie – with a vampire in it. Oh – one thing they totally “brought in” to the new one is a LOT more blood than the first. It’s not “gory”, but in the first one there was rarely any of the red stuff, this one has quite a bit, but much less than you will find in any episode of True Blood. In fact, a good analogy here, would be to compress an entire season of True Blood into one two hour drama, and take out the multiple story lines, and fairies and werewolves and were-panthers and such.
Both stories are essentially the same. Disenchanted, lonely boy meets disenchanted, lonely girl (who is actually “twelve for a very long time”). They are apprehensive at first, adjust to each other, save each other and develop a love for each other. Along the way there’s good character development in both, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, until we get to the end scene à the end scene which is worth the rental or ticket price for either movie. I think I liked LMI better, even though I associated with Oskar more than Owen, but I loved Abby more than Eli. The topper, I think, of LMI over LTROI is the innovation of camera work they did in the new one. There are some really cool, inventive camera angles in the new one, and I can’t fail to mention one of the coolest, “stolen car, get in a wreck” scenes ever filmed (to me anyway).
I do think LMI left a couple of things out that should have been left in. This is a spoiler: there is theme in both that Eli / Abby is not actually a girl; in LTROI they explain this, in LMI they do not, if you are not familiar with LTROI then you won’t get the allusion to it in LMI. Turns out Eli / Abby was a little boy who was castrated back in the middle ages, then was turned into a vampire. Another thing missing in the new one: there is a cool sort secondary story in LTROI where the vampire attack survivor is beginning to “turn”. While doing this, her apartment full of cats begin to turn on her (and they win) to send her to the hospital. As a cat lover – I LOVED it. In both, the end to this woman is the same, although in the new one, she begins “grossly” drinking her own blood which doesn’t make a bunch of sense to me. Either way, I think it would have helped to explain why she keeps saying she’s not a girl, it might have helped.
To be honest, LMI also had a couple of problems. I have no idea why they chose to use CGI for certain things… I mean FOR REAL. Doesn’t Hollywood know everyone’s tired of shitty CGI? Also – Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee from The Road) is much more girlish and frail then the Oskar from LTROI. Oskar was just kind of shabby and lonely (like me at that age), Owen is a skeleton with skin. Maybe getting bullied in Sweden is different than getting bullied in New Mexico. Oh well – he did a great job acting his role. The only other thing I missed was the cat thing – but they made up for it with the stolen car thing. I hated the CGI (it’s not used that often) but they made up for it with the camera work. I didn’t particularly love Owen, but they made up for that with Abby. I don’t think I can say enough about this actress, I hope she keeps up with these cool roles. So far, in the two movies I’ve seen her in, she’s TWO FOR TWO.
So, overall, I don’t think you can go wrong with either one. They both have their own very good merits, and each is its own movie based off of a book. Normally, American remakes of good foreign films fall short (to me), but this one really worked. Neither one of them gripped me like Frozen, or entertained me like Kick-Ass or Piranha 3-D, so I give them both four STRONG top hats.
Either one is worth your time.
The internet search gives all sorts of images for the movie; here I’ll present two of LMI, one is the poster the movie theater had when I went (the snow angel), and one is kind of a fun foreign poster with Abby as the centerpiece.