Project Horror, Day 15: Let the Right One In (Sweden)/Let Me In (USA)


My first double feature of Project Horror!  I got the idea for this one from my friend Tricia, who recommended watching the original Swedish movie Let the Right One In, and then following it with the recent American remake, Let Me In.  I'm going to split this review into two parts, with the original first.

I loved this movie.  Not as a horror movie, not as a vampire movie, but just as a really fantastic story. It's not only the best movie I've watched this month, but one of the best all year.  With half a month left to go in Project Horror, the bar has now been set pretty high!

Let the Right One In is the story of a 12 year old boy named Oskar, who lives in an apartment with his mother.  He's lonely, bullied by other boys at his school, and struggling with his own identity.  When a girl named Eli moves in next door, they begin a tentative friendship which gradually grows more and more important to each of them.  She encourages him to fight back against the bullies, and he finds that she has some similar interests to his.  As their relationship deepens, Oskar learns more about Eli - as she puts it, she's "been 12 for a very long time."

What I loved about this movie was that in spite of the fact that Eli is a vampire, the movie really isn't about that.  It's about the sweetness of the relationship between Oskar and Eli.  There were so many wonderful little touches, as well.  Watch her eyes throughout the movie - although it never calls attention to them, they change based on her moods and needs.  The movie perfectly captures the tone of so many moments.  When Oskar walks home by himself, surrounded by snow drifts, I really felt his loneliness.  When he asked Eli to go steady, I felt just like I did when I was 12 and nursing my first serious crush on A_____ M_____ (name redacted to protect the innocent).  When he was trying to avoid the notice of the bullies, I felt like I did in fifth grade when I was tormented by a horrid little turd named P__ W________ (name redacted because he's probably still a horrid little turd).

I recommend this movie to anybody, even people who don't normally enjoy horror movies.  I give it five Rubik's Cubes out of five.

Tonight was Kids Night Out at church, and Courtney is working overnight at the hospital, so I got the chance to go and watch Let Me In on my own.  Didn't have to share my popcorn and Icee with anybody!  Actually, that's not a good thing, because I bought a large popcorn.  That bucket was bigger than my head.  Have you seen my head?  It's fucking huge!  Ooh, also there was a great preview for a movie coming out in November, called Skyline.

I don't have anything to back this up with, but I think that in cases where you experience copies of the same work, whether it's a remake of a movie or a cover of a song, you generally tend to prefer the one that you were exposed to first.  I won't embarrass anybody by naming names, but somebody close to me still maintains that Motley Crue's "Anarchy in the USA" is a better song than the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK," and I'm pretty sure it's because that's the one he heard first.  All of that is to say that I did slightly prefer the original movie, but I really think that it's because I saw it first, because Let Me In was excellent.

There are some slight differences, but nothing that steers the plot from the original.  In fact, most of the dialog is even the same.  Two differences particularly interested me.  One was that although you do see Owen's (the boy in this movie) mother, you never see her face.  She's an impersonal entity in his life, not involved with him.  The other was in Chloe Moretz's portrayal of Abby (the vampire).  Perhaps it was my imagination, but she seemed to play the character with a more "knowing" personality than the actress in the original.

And let's talk about Chloe Moretz for a minute.  She is fantastic.  Watch for her, because she's got real talent.  I'm hoping she has parents and managers who will steer her more along a Julia Stiles path and not along a Lindsay Lohan one.

Let Me In was really enjoyable.  It would have stood well on its own, but was fun as part of my double feature, too.  I give it five Now & Laters out of five.

This brings us to the end of the Foreign Horror block!  Tomorrow begins five days of the Occult & Supernatural.


ari wagner said...

I loved the original. But because of you, maybe I will give the remake a try . . . when it comes out on rental and the boy has gone to bed. (2 years from now?)

Andrea G. said...

Doug saw Let Me In (alone like you) and also liked it and also loved the young actress. She reminded him of Kristen Dunst in Interview with the Vampire. She was also the daughter superhero in Kick Ass, which Doug again LOVED. And she's the sister in 500 days of Summer, which is one of my new favorites. Huh, maybe I'll have to see this. And I am thinking I may have to do Netflix if I can get foreign films this easily.

Matt said...

Loved reading your reviews on these ones. Let the Right One In is one of my favourite movies (enjoyed the book too), and I'm curious to see Let Me In as well. I think you're one of the first I've heard from who's seen both and can still vouch for the remake, so that's helpful.

Anonymous said...

A lot to love about Let The Right One In, not only how it gets back to the creepy quality of good horror rather than the gore. Great scenes, etc. Two things I'd highlight: it shows how easy it is for a normal person (if a young kid) to slip into an unnatural worldview and morality due to a feeling of safety and comfort; and the relationship between the vampire and her keeper just makes my skin crawl. The naturalistic depiction of a vampire ecology (the care and feeding of the undead) - as opposed to mythology - is first rate. The young boy will develop into the sad-sack/pedophiliac older minion and eventually sacrifice himself for this monster who will never die. A++ One of the best movies of the decade.


Danny said...

@Ari - I can really relate. Before last night, I saw Inception in the theater, but that's about the first time I've made it to the theater in almost a year! If it wasn't for Netflix, my kids would be in college before I saw any movies.

@Andrea - I can definitely see that re: Kirsten Dunst. I didn't see Kick Ass yet, but heard that she totally steals the show. I also didn't know this until I IMDB'd her, but she's the voice of Darby on the Disney Channel show "My Friends Tigger and Pooh," which I don't care for, but my kids love. And you should absolutely check out Netflix! I can't say enough good things about it, especially if you do enjoy foreign or documentary movies.

@Matt - I haven't read the book. Does it give some more of the girl/guardian's backstory, or does it show pretty much what the movie does?

@Eric - I wondered when watching the Swedish one whether her guardian was a previous "friend" or if he was more of a Renfield to her Count. The new one answers that question in a clever way, making it clear that he used to be a boy who liked her, too. Knowing that the relationship really only has a few ways that it can ultimately play out adds a real melancholy to the story.

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