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Overlooked Films #3: 'Let The Right One In'

Matthew Newlin Matthew Newlin
September 29th, 2010 10:49am EDT

let the right one in

This weekend, moviegoers will finally get to see the much-hyped and surprisingly well-reviewed film “Let Me In” directed by “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves. The marketing for the film has been relentless over the past few weeks and consensus from fans and critics alike is that it is one of the best horror movies to come out in years.

The novel from which the movie was adapted is called “Let the Right One In” by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist and was adapted into a Swedish film in 2008. When the film finally made its way to the U.S. it was one of the best reviewed and most talked about films of the year. Director Tomas Aldredson, from a script written by Lindqvist himself, created an entirely new type of vampire movie set in a cold and dark landscape where even daytime feels unsafe.

The plot of the 2008 film focuses vary narrowly on the relationship between the two young characters, Oskar and Eli (changed to Owen and Abby for the American version). The novel features an array of characters that are not included in the film thereby stripping the story down to the tenuous friendship that slowly develops. Their struggle to understand one another is where the true heart of the film lies.

What is most fascinating about Lindqvist’s novel and the film is which aspects of vampire mythology are employed and which are ignored. True to many vampire myths, Eli must be invited into a room or building which gives Oskar a slight upper-hand. The most disturbing and effective scene in the movie is when Oskar asks Eli to show him what happens if a vampire enters a room they have not been given permission to enter. The result is disturbing but also enlightening, showing just how cursed Eli truly is.

The film very minimalistic in its dialogue and action, almost bare just like the frozen world the characters inhabit. The very meditative pace will be a deterrent to some viewers as we have become accustomed to the fast-paced, action-driven vampire movies that have inundated audiences in the past view years. “Let the Right One In” is about the characters and their struggles to survive. The performances by both young actors are heartbreaking and beautiful in their simplicity and honesty.

The film is also a wonderful conversation starter as it poses more questions than it answers and leaves many plot points and storylines open to interpretation. The novel answers some, but not all, of the questions and is a wonderful book which most people will have a hard time putting down.

Reeves’ American version appears to be a faithful adaptation of the book which includes many of the characters and subsequent storylines that the Swedish film omitted. It is also more fast-paced than Alfredson’s film which could be attributed to the American influence but is actually a true reflection of how the novel unfolds and moves along.

Anyone who is excited to see “Let Me In” on October 1 should definitely watch “Let the Right One In” as well as reading Lindqvist’s original novel in order to fully enjoy the experience.

 

American version: “Let Me In” opening October 1


 

Photo Credits: Magnolia Pictures