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TV Movie Of The Week: Let The Right One In

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 15:22 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2012

My choice of best movie on TV this week is Let The Right One In, an extraordinary and affecting Swedish Vampire film.

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Let Me In review

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A beautiful story, excellent film GET IT WATCHED!

  • Comment number 2.

    I bought Let the Right One In on DVD after it got such rave reviews, and having watched it several times now, I'm afraid I just don't see what everyone else is apparently seeing. Yes, the cinematography is beautiful, the direction very good, but on the whole, I was not interested in the characters, I found them unconvincing and unsympathetic, and I was pretty bored by the film generally. I wasn't particularly overwhelmed by the two central performances, and the climax to the film was ridiculous at best. I get what the film is about, I understand what is going on, but it just doesn't connect with me in any way. I haven't seen the English language remake, and don't really care to either. So, on this one, good doctor, I am afraid I will not be tuning in.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Mark! I usually wait too long before posting, but not this time!

    I have seen "Let The Right One In" a couple of times, and I think it is beautiful, disturbing, melancholy and chilling, sometimes all at once. A concise summation would be disturbingly adorable. The children are recognisable and engaging, not least because the capacity for vengeance and violence in both of them is very familiar. I was badly bullied as a child and wanted to take violent revenge - unfortunately (or should that be fortunately?) I had no vampire friend to help me out. Absolutely a thumbs-up, Mark, you are right.

    However, you are wrong about "Let Me In", and back when you lambasted it you did so in a very unfair way, acting as though there was no reason to see "Let Me In" because one could see "Let The Right One In". This time, you have been more moderate and indicated that if you have seen "Let Me In", there is much to be gained from seeing "Let The Right One In". I saw "Let Me In" second, and it only suffers from coming second; I'll be interested to hear from those who have seen "Let Me In" how they find "Let The Right One In".

    "Let Me In" is engaging and frightening, with compelling performances and a very assured directorial hand. It's an interesting piece to come from the director of "Cloverfield", as it has a far more restrained style, beautifully composed and sedated paced. Yet like "Cloverfield", it is about terror at the ground level, ordinary people facing extraordinary situations.

    It may be fair to say that "Let Me In" is a film about vampires that happens to have children, but that does not mean "Let Me In" is wrong, it is simply a different interpretation of the novel and its themes. Is the book necessarily about children but happens to have vampires in? Having read the book, I would say no, that is far more about a community and the damaged people within it, who become steadily more damaged. Tomas Alfredson took the book and made a fine film about children, which happened to have vampires. Matt Reeves took the book/film and made a fine vampire film, from a child's perspective. The tradition and background may be significant here - after all, Reeves was certainly coming from an American horror film tradition, and "Let Me In" stands as a significant anomaly among "Dracula", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "Interview with the Vampire", "Twilight", "Near Dark", "The Lost Boys", "The Addiction", "Underworld", "Van Helsing", "Stake Land", "30 Days of Night", "The Hunger", "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and so many, many more.

  • Comment number 4.

    A stunning film which is only superficially a horror/vampire movie. At its heart it is a love story; a homage to the outsider; a critique of how modern society treats outsiders and eccentrics; and a two finger salute to the supposed "inclusiveness" of Swedish society which in reality doesn't hold true. I could happily watch it again and again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Let The Right One In stirred me up in ways that i didn't really understand until after i'd watched it. I agree it's about youth, not vampires. Anyone who liked it should download the soundtrack too, it's even better! One of the best films i've seen for years.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mark,

    After your rave reviews and strong views about "Let the Right One In" and "Let Me In" ,respectively, I decided to purchase "Let the Right One In". I thank you for this.

    I do not own any other foreign movies so it stands out like a sore thumb in my DVD collection. It also stands out because it is an amazing story. I was not scared or distracted by the vampire aspect, I was sucked in by the relationship between the boy and 'girl'.

    I have not seen "Let Me In" so cannot comment, but it cannot be an improvement on "Let the Right One In".

  • Comment number 7.

    I really wanted to dis Let Me In on principle (US remakes) but couldn't fault Kodi dbl barrels performance - much more convincing as a scared bullied youngster, Kåre Hedebrant is a bit vacant - Chloe doo dar completely miscast but they did bin the notion that she was a he. It doesn't help if you've read the (very disturbing) book, Let the right one in is the better rendition and altogether a beautiful and touching coming of age/love story, the frustration in Eli being he never got to experience 'coming of age' and is frozen in time. Stunning photography and one of the first films I saw with subtle, non intrusive CGI.

  • Comment number 8.

    In my case Mark you are and here is why. I watched Let The Right One In first but I had to use English subtitles because I couldn't find Serbian ones (hint hint I'm from Serbia) so I could not get involved with the characters because I don't speak Swedish and had hard time reading English and watching what are the kids doing so I didn't get the movie at first and didn't want to watch it again, but when Let Me In came out I saw trailer and said to my self this is just another Hollywood Ripoff and at first didn't want to see the movie. But my fried asked me which version he should watch and I said watch the original first and decided I should watch Let Me In and I loved it, suddenly I understand what Let The Right One In was about, I know it was a bit flashy but because I saw the first movie and had hard time firing it out now when I didn't need subtitles (I do understand English) I get the movie and I have to say I enjoyed it much more than original and for me the cast was great Richard Jenkins, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Elias Koteas they all did a great job and I didn't see it as a vampire movie but a movie about kids, alienation, loneliness and all the thing the kids dream about being capable of so they could fix what they don't like and who they hate. And one more thing you should check out Frostbitten (2006) it was Swedish 30 Days of Night before Hollywood did it.

  • Comment number 9.

    (...and "Promethius" is a film about 2 hours too long that just happens to have no logic whatsover.)

  • Comment number 10.

    Erm... "Prometheus". Look, it's not even easy to spell!

  • Comment number 11.

    Thought it was crap, to be honest. Funny that he mentions Tinker Tailor, that was crap also.

  • Comment number 12.

    Just watched Prometheus on Bluray. S'alright. But to avoid further on-line backlashes and angry blogs from its target audience, I think film makers should employ fan-boy consultants at the development stage scrutinising the scripts for plot-holes and inconsistencies before a final draught is drawn - that way i won't have to watch explanatory videos on YouTube to find out what I just watched.

  • Comment number 13.

    Watching this brilliant movie, I found myself asking "what specific age is this film pitched at"?
    All to often we define a movie by either 'who cannot watch it' or 'which AGE RANGE it is aimed at'.

    Now, like the film, I'm not talking about perceived biological age.

    I mean the particular age you view yourself as.

    I see Mark as eternally 15 and Simon as forever 65.

    Maybe Mark finds this movie so engaging because it relates to his true age rather than his real age.

    Again, great film.

  • Comment number 14.

    I love this film and agree with you 100% but it's a shame you didn't bring up the discussion about the cat scene. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and what you think it does, if anything, to the picture as a whole.

  • Comment number 15.

    Let the right one in= 1 of the top 5 films of the last decade.

    Let me in= completely forgetable in every way, its not a horror, vampire or teen angst film, its just eeeer what was i talkin about.......................................

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm one of the many that has seen Let Me In but not seen Let the Right One In. The two main reasons being:

    - I do most of my film viewing at home whilst doing something else, like playing Football Manager or doing paperwork. I find it easy to multitask in this way and I can listen to the film whilst focusing on the other task and then switch focus to the film for important parts. Films that are in a foreign language hinder this as I find it harder to read info from one thing whilst trying to read subtitles, than reading something whilst listening to something else.

    - The genital mutilation / Boy or girl? subplot. I thought Let Me In was a decent film, so I looked for more info the origional as it was getting even better reviews. The whole boy/girl? sub plot just sounds plain weird and something that I have no interest in watching.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Mark, Let The Right One In is a fantastic choice for TV Movie Of The Week, i saw it for the first time about two years ago and you are right, it is a beautiful film that also had me on the verge of tears. However, i have to say that Let Me In is also a very nice film, not as powerful as the original but i did think it was interesting how they made the boy a little less likeable (and quite creepy at times) and delved a little bit more into the girl's past. I think you've been a little too harsh on it to be honest.

  • Comment number 18.

    A modern classic and practically flawless.

  • Comment number 19.

    I saw Let Me In before I saw Let the Right One In therefore my opinion may be affected by that. I thought the US version was better, why, simply I was able to buy into the relationship between the two leads better and the threat from the bullying teenagers seemed more menacing. The key moment for me was when Owen sees the old picture of Abbey with a young boy and realises its Thomas. It was one of my favourite films of the year and great use of music (I was playing Blue Oyster Cult for days after).
    After seeing it I immediately saw the Swedish version, although good I just liked the US version better, I just connected more with it. As I said at the start, it may have something to do with the fact that having seen the US version first I knew what was coming. I thought the same might happened when I went to see David Fincher’s version of Dragon Tattoo, having seen the Swedish version first, I shouldn’t have worried. The US version was just pants!

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't know why it's such a good movie, has that "something about that movie" vibe that cult movies sometimes pick up. For example it captured the feeling of Sweden for me so amazingly well, as well as the 80's in some respects and that's just external detail to the story; which is so much more than what is usually told: Usually a children/young adolescent story concerning eg kids' egos and power-trips is via fantasy adventure fulfilments about being special (hidden powers, specially chosen etc) and token almost "badge-like" past problems being virtuously overcome in brazen self-promotion! I definitely do not like the horror movies genre, but this story is crazy good. I think it may even have improved/cut away the excess of the book?

    I have another view on the cat scene "was a misstep". Remembering when I saw it in the cinema it had the reaction of watching a youtube video involving eg cats pushing each other off a ladder or guys jumping into frozen lakes and bouncing painfully off the ice instead of plunging through! So it was nasty, yet ridiculous. Which I think contrasted with most of the other violent (& detached reality to them) scenes; and fitting the genre of vampires and cats and old people with too many cats!

    As for the remake, my problem with this is the integrity of the people involved: Where is it? It's so easy to justify all the optimistic reasons why it needs remaking, to help share with more people and do a new artistic interpretation, based on the novel source material, of course. Seriously, the good things in that movie are so ripped from the original film wholesale. The USA culture of it is changed naturally, the vampire stuff follows more of a genre expectations working into it: It just looks like a massive caricature exercise or selectively snatching bits to conform to a vehicle: A version more commercial, starring English-speaking people set in the colder areas of NA. They got that right.

    It's also overlooked, that American English does not have the same quality of sound either as the Swedish. I'd argue this is incredibly apparent in for eg Studio Ghibli comparing the Japanese to the American (usu. strong voice casts). And I'm sure it's a big deal comparing the Swedish Låt Den Rätte Komma In to the American English.

    Maybe an eg that reminds me of this mimicking process, is possibly some well-known daytime versions of eg Sherlock Homes of Miss Marple. Some versions are so hypertrophic in the key characteristic of the fictional well-known figures and the key details of the story, that what's left is these exaggerated versions of the details: Eg contact lenses in "Let Me In"? If someone was skilled at making movies would they have to copy another film so slavishly? Why did they not find a story that was original to themselves to tell other people?

  • Comment number 21.

    Mark,

    I really hope you read this ...

    ARGHHH!!!

    Just read the news about LucasFilm being sold to Disney and more Star Wars films on the way!!

    Is this really worrying or am I paranoid based on the clusterfruitcake that was the prequels?

    Would love to know your opinion ...

    Cheers

    enigmajx

  • Comment number 22.

    Both the novel and film of Let the Right One In are brilliant, and I highly reccomend them to any horror or vampire fan. However I feel that Let Me In is an equally good film, and I'm surprised that the good doctor doesn't like it seeing as both films are almost beat-for-beat the same, despite being in different languages. Mat Reeves, the director of the remake, did say he was merely re-adapting Ajvide Lindqvist's book, but it's hard to deny that the remake borrows heavily from the original. I can understand if Kermode doesn't like it for being too derivative, but from what I gather he doesn't like it because it focuses to heavily on vampirism, which I disagree with. But anyway, I'd say watch both films, as Let Me In is one of the remakes that is actually on par with the original, as opposed to other horror remakes (*cough cough*The Wolfman*cough cough*).

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree that Let the right one in, is a superior movie to Let Me In, mainly because the remake completely misses all of the subtext and subtitles of the original. One of the reasons that I think Let The Right One is such a wonderful film is due to the ambiguity of the ending, the majority view seems to go with the upbeat interpretation, but there is still the gnawing doubt that actually that Eli is just using Oskar to replace Hakan. It is down the skill of the film makers that I can never quite make up my mind which of the two is the correct interpretation.

  • Comment number 24.

    'Let the Right One In' is surely one of the best 'Horror' films ever made and one of the best films of any kind made this century. its one of those amazing movies that truly demonstrates just how powerful and profound the 'Horror' genre can be. Contrasting all kinds of ideas childhood/adulthood, beauty/ugliness, humanity/inhumanity. Its just a captivating story that's beautifully written, directed, acted and shot. And that's all I ask... Though (personally) I would have cut the stuff with the cats. It makes the middle of movie sag somewhat.

  • Comment number 25.

    and I've never seen Let Me In... I don't see the point. The original is still fresh and far superior.

  • Comment number 26.

    One of the very few times that I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. K's assessment on a film. Let The Right One In is a mezmerising film that captures the trappings of angst, loneliness and isolation of teendom. The film doesn't shy away from those three themes and it packs them with a punch by... depicting them as simply as possible. The performances by the two teen actors are superb and refreshing, whilst the snowy landscapes and the drab concrete buildings of early 80s Stockholm are a perfect juxtoposition with the lonely and sad life that Oskar leads, and the freedom that Eli offers him through friendship.

    Like Dr K said, this is a film about children which just happens to have a vampire in it and on that subject this is the reason why the film succeeds. The horror films that have received acclaim and have in turn become classics are the ones where the audience has to read between the lines.

    All in all I have to say this film is an antidote to the poison of films that Hollywood has churned out; films such as the Twilight series, and the so called angsty teen films such as the recent film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

    On that subject I have to say that the pointless remake, Let Me In, is an overblown mess of a film that quite frankly deserved the box office mauling it got. I was really surprised that the majority of critics championed this film, with some calling it superior to the original! Sure there are a minute number of remakes which are different and/or superior to its original counterparts, but Let Me In is not one of them. Let The Right One In deserves all the acclaim it has received (I would personally go far as to say its one of the best movies of the last two decades) And I'm glad that it got its director, Tomas Alfredson, the job of directing the amazing film that is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

  • Comment number 27.

    First off I'd like to say that I don't think this is a bad film - but as with Pan's Labyrinth I think it's simply not quite the "masterpiece" that Dr.K feels it is.

    I'm sorry but it IS a film about vampires and not even slightly incidentally. Try making this film without the girl being a vampire and it becomes a tedious and overlong kitchen-sink drama that even Lynne Ramsey would turn down.

    Take the scenes of the man looking to drain people of blood for the vampire girl - it's procedural stuff showing the day-to-day chores that one must do to look after a child vampire!

    She is more than a symbol of the boy's anger - in fact this film is about two misfit kids that form a relationship due to their exile from the status quo - she's a loner runt and she's a vampire.

    It's about how kids who find it difficult to fit in will find others like themselves and thus we are supposed to find the way they redeem each other as being the emotional movement or core.

    It left me cold to be honest as both characters seemed too minimal to be real enough emotionally for me to invest in. This was the same problem with Pan's Labyrinth - the intention is there but it doesn't pack a real punch.

    The central lead performance of the boy seems far too minimal to the point that you really have no idea what the hell he's doing on screen emotionally and yet again it's up to the vampire to liven things up with blood-lust and horror film set pieces (like the underpass scene) to avoid an zzzzzzing audience.

    The film is not bad but not great - Soldier Spy was much more intelligent and interesting despite suffering from moments of downtime because of pacing problems - perhaps they could have brought in the vampires again to shake things up?

  • Comment number 28.

    I've seen both films and 'Let the Right One In' is the better. The remake is not bad but closely follows the plot of the original without the two standout performances of the original. The cold desperation of winter and claustrophobia of bullying brought home the savage isolation of teenage life. And the pent-up anger vented in the finale was my guilty pleasure. Sorry but the scars never heal.

  • Comment number 29.

    Excellent TV movie of the week, Mark.

    Of the two, thankfully I saw Let the Right One first and found it powerful, chilling and complex.

    Only a couple of years later, I went with a friend to see Let Me In. I thought Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smitt Macphee were excellent in Kick Ass and The Road respectively, so I suppose I was quietly optimistic.

    However, my friend and I both left the cinema feeling kind of empty. For the entire walk home, we talked about everything but what we had just seen. It wasn't that it was a badly made film, because it wasn't. It was just a facsimile of a very good film.

    I guess critics' love of Let Me In was due to them choosing to view it in complete isolation from the original, which seems rather naive, and certainly doesn't do justice to the excellent film that is Let the Right One In.

  • Comment number 30.

    I disagree with you about Let Me In Mark. I understand why you hate it, but I don't think you hate it because you think it's an objectively bad movie, but you just think it's not as good as Let the Right One In.

    But what I liked about LMI, is some of the small improvements it made. The best example of this was what each movie did with the caretaker's downfall moment. In the Swedish version, Hakan gets cornered by some students, and it's fast and lacks any real tension. In the English version, they create a great and very tense sequence that in a way reminded me of Dial M for Murder. We've seen Jenkins method for capturing these kids go right and know what he's expecting, and then everything goes wrong and the sequence ends with one of the most wonderful camera shots I've seen in a long time. That sequence alone was one of the more enjoyable times I've had in the cinema in years.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm from South Carolina, and I went to Atlanta, Georgia, to see Let the Right One In. It just so happened that it opened in Atlanta the same weekend the first Twilight movie opened nationwide. I got nerdy joy out of telling people I had just seen a great vampire movie, to which they asked, "Did you see Twilight?" I'd say, "No. I saw a Swedish vampire movie titled Let the Right One In."
    I went to a midnight screening of Let Me In at my local theater in South Carolina when it came out. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the movie, but it had gotten surprisingly strong reviews, and I had nothing better to do. When the credits started to roll, I said to myself, "That was a well made movie in many ways, but I've already seen it. There was no point to this remake." I thought the same thing when I saw Christopher Nolan's Insomnia and Takashi Miike's Hara-Kiri. I did, however, like David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo more than the Swedish film. I thought the first film was OK, but not much more than a two and a half hour Swedish episode of Criminal Minds. I thought Fincher made a stronger film. I haven't read the book, but some of the people who saw the movie had, and they said they liked the American version better because they felt it was truer to the book.

  • Comment number 32.

    I didn't mind Let Me In, but that was before I watched Let The Right One In. It's alright, it's arguably one of the better Hollywood remakes, but I don't know - sometimes, this remake stuff is a little silly. I mean, do we really need that supposed remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I can't say I'd watch it without prejudice, that's for sure...

    But yeah, that Star Wars thing. Because Disney have had a great year with Science Fiction, haven't they? Insert your own John Carter joke here. You know you want to.

  • Comment number 33.

    I too adore Let the Right One In Mark...I very much had the same reaction as I sat in a small arthouse cinema in Sydney Australia and was bought to tears over just how moving this film was. For me, LTROI is not about the plight of the Vampire...it's about the plight of the children. LMI on the other hand, is all about the plight of the vampire and the creation of her caretaker.

    As for Let Me In, I was a fan of John Lindqvist's novel before I had even seen the original film...my disappointment with Let Me In is within the fact that it missed a great opportunity to go back to the book and start fresh. Instead, it opted to simply remake the original film and over explain the implications, the subtext and the metaphors that were already there in the original film.

    For myself, the best horror movies are the ones that DON'T present you with a predetermined neatly tied up package...instead they allow you to bring something of yourself to the package...that is why LTROI has enjoyed the rabid discussion it has had from its fanbase...LMI on the other hand tries to look for justification at every turn. At every turn, it felt like Reeves and company were trying to justify everything that happens in the film and as a result, it ended up being a film that was a predetermined neatly tied up package with little room for the audience to bring anything of themselves to the proceedings.

    I don't think LMI is terrible...but it just never did anything for me....I still maintain that instead of remaking the original film, LMI should have started fresh from the pages of the book and actually have been its own thing.

  • Comment number 34.

    One final thing before I move on. I don't think LMI comes closer to the book...the only way it comes slightly closer is maybe in its tone of horror. There are a few scenes that do emulate the book a littler closer...the bullying scenes are a lot worse in LMI and in that sense they do come closer to the book.

    But in other terms, it actually owes more to Alfredson film (and Lindqvist's screenplay) then it does Lindqvist's book...there are a few touches here and there that Reeves did throw in from the book...but mostly it tends to be far more in line with the original film in both its structure and its presentation of presenting an implication as a foregone conclusion.

    So in that sense, it definitely has more in line with the original film then the novel. Which is still very much the problem I have with it to this day...it just reeks of "Yeah it's decent, but why bother? Go back to the book and start fresh...there is a entirely different movie to be had here from the book alone"...

  • Comment number 35.

    I totally agree about "Let The Right One In" being more than just a vampire movie. One of the most interesting aspects of Alfredson's movies is the mood he creates - it somehow feels like another character; overshadowing and becoming encumbersome to the story as a whole - which he also used to great effect in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". As for the remake, "Let Me In": i didn't mind it; i thought Matt Reeves did a good job adapting the material, but it lacked any emotion that it's Swedish counterpart delivered. There is always this quagmire in comparing remakes of foreign language films, they either improve or detract from the general conceit of the story, which is why i personally thought David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" was superior to the original.

  • Comment number 36.

    Loved your review, Mr Kermode. Your emotional honesty if a genuine breath of fresh air. Let the Right One In is one of the best love stories ever depicted on screen. It has been on television before, and, for me, it does not work quite as well on the small screen. The same can be said for other films where the initial cinema experience is all you need to have. The same can be said for the magical Korean film, "Mother" and "Memories of Murder". For me, these require a single viewing only. I would appreciate you giving some thought about using this as a topic of debate for a future show. Cheers, Mark.

  • Comment number 37.

    Really love Let the Right One In, film and book. I do baulk at the idea that it's not a vampire film in the way you say it, because you can't just take away the vampire elements of the story (Eli's character is hampered by her vampirism and shapes her character, her acquaintances and her "youth"), but I do get the point that it's more a film about children and loneliness rather than vampires, which is legitimate, but a bit one-sided. Maybe it's a film that centres on childhood loneliness, or it's not just a vampire film but more centred on childhood loneliness, but to dismiss the vampire part is also misleading.

    As for Let Me In, I have to say that even though I do think it was a pointless remake for those unwilling/unable to read subtitles, I didn't think it was a bad film. Not as good as LtROI, not as emotionally engaging, not as delving into the bitterness and isolation that can reside in childhood, but it wasn't bad and had its moments. Sure, "it wasn't bad" is hardly praise, and can be seen as an insult itself, but if Let Me In had been its own film, then it would be seen as a reasonable film in its own right. However, yeah, films don't live in a vacuum and it was a pointless remake for the subtitle-illiterate rather than an original retelling of the story. Saying that, it did have a police angle that was missing in LtROI but was in the book (sure, it wasn't really done the same as in the book).

    BTW, Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a good remake and I feel was a bit truer to the book than the original film. I think I prefer the original film on balance (still a bit of indecision), but there are parts of Fincher's film that I think justifies its existence despite being a remake. The ending of Fincher's film is truer, that's for sure. Maybe I'm just being a hypocrite, but consistency and film devotion aren't always good bedfellows. ;)

  • Comment number 38.

    Dr Kermode
    I agree with you completely with regards Let the right one in. It is a fantastic film, and not about vampires. I also agree that Let me in is essentially a more conventional vampire film. However, I think Let me in is still a decent horror film in its own right, with some great performances and good horror scenes. If you hadnt seen Let the Right one in, and just watched Let me in, would you still consider it a dreadful horror film?

  • Comment number 39.

    To The Good Doctor,

    Just like to say I agree with you on both Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor in that they are not about vampires and spies respectively.
    In many ways, for me, great cinema uses context and plot not only to drive the narrative but also to explore themes raised in the plot and to put questions in the minds of the viewer.
    Tinker Tailor, for example raised a lot of questions about paranoia and masculinity in a word teetering on the edge.
    Even a huge blockbuster can do this, and I don't just mean the works of Christopher Nolan! Jurassic Park for instance (a personal favourite) has Jeff Goldblum philosophising throughout and so raising questions. It is admittedly very family friendly in its delivery and more heavy handed than the Alfredson films in question, but fundamentally they are different executions of a similar goal.
    When a film fails to fully realise itself and is ONLY plot and context, such as (for my money) The Ides Of March, it never truly gets off the ground and is a much less interesting film.

    Cheers Mark!

  • Comment number 40.

    Haunting. Bleak. Stark. Melancholy. Just a few words that spring to mind when I think about 'Let The Right One In'. Driven by a compelling story and some outstanding acting from the two child leads in particular, there is a cloying sadness to the movie (despite, or perhaps because of, one or two frankly brutal, shocking scenes). The film is unhurried (in the best European tradition) and yet somehow utterly spellbinding from start to finish. In some ways, it unfolds like a dark fairytale, in others as an uncompromising, hyper-realistic commentary on the difficulties of one particular troubled childhood.

    In short, an outstanding film - the very essence what great cinema can, but rarely does, achieve.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'd go along with those who feel that LTROI is a superb film and LMI an unnecessary remake. The whole argument about fidelity to the book is, to me, a distraction; print and film are different media and the Swedish film was demonstrably in the spirit of the book if not the letter. You can certainly understand why some plot developments were dropped - the world of cine is probably not ready yet for a Swedish OAP vampire paedophile.

    However, a question: I'm sure that a couple of minor scenes in the original movie were dropped from the DVD and blu-ray:
    1/ When Eli is trying to get into the swimming pool to rescue Oskar, she has to persuade one of the gang to invite her in which means that Oscar's submersion is much longer on the original film than on the disc versions.
    2/ When Oskar (and the box!) are on the train at the end, Oskar has a brief conversation with the conductor who asks if he is meeting anyone at the end of the journey.
    Both seem to have vanished. Can anyone help ... or am I imagining it?

  • Comment number 42.

    I've never watched Let Me In for the simple reason that Let the Right One In
    didn't need to be remade. I saw it in the cinema and was so moved that seeing another version was, and is, unthinkable.

  • Comment number 43.

    enigmajx@21

    ….Oh god. It's already started.

    101 Jawas
    Pete's Rancor
    Droid Story, Droid Story 2 and Droid Story 3….

    anybody care to add a funny Star Wars/Disney themed pun, just so we can get them out of our collective (star) systems?

  • Comment number 44.

    Ha! They're shouting them out in the office… childish but fun, 'The Empire's New Groove'… nice one.

    I wonder what Disney will do with 'Howard The Duck' now that they own Marvel, Pixar and LucasFilm? …..given that they already own the Muppets I can't imagine a reboot! Perhaps Donald could play Howard, confusing? Maybe they should just kick it over to Pixar as a more adult animated update? Dr K, I feel a song coming on… "How-ard, The Duck…. "

    Better get back to work.

  • Comment number 45.

    Oh, on topic… I loved every frame of 'Let the Right One In' and I've re-watched it a number of times since it's theatrical release. A Personal favourite that I'd have to squeeze into my all time top ten films about adolescence.

    Not interested in the US remake.

  • Comment number 46.

    Quite simply, the original is as good as you say it is (and more), the remake is no where near as bad as you say it is; the tone is maintained, not a lot is lost, what is lost in a lot of cases is a good thing (yes, the cat scene) - stand alone, it is a good movie.

    But all that means is that it's a redundant movie. Why bother?

  • Comment number 47.

    Mark, it's a great movie and well worth a second look. I had read the novel before seeing the film. One did not spoil the other.

    As for the remake Let Me In I will not see it. I have been sorely disappointed by many, if not all, Hollywood remakes of Scandinavian classics - Pusher, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo etc., and even the TV series The Killing was a poor facsimile of the original. Once bitten twice shy when it comes to watching US remakes (pun intended).

  • Comment number 48.

    I was going to add that Let The Right One In is one of my favourite movies of the last ten years, but, I think it's one of my favourite, period.
    Simply beautiful. It's a sentiment echoed above, but I still haven't (and don't intend to) watch Let Me In.

  • Comment number 49.

    I love ` Let the Right One In `its in my Top Ten list. Its about the viciousness of bullying ,isolation and the need for human love, oh yes and vampirism as a curse. The two kids are just brilliant, two of the best child performances since Stand by Me.
    My daughter will not read subtitles so I bought her LET ME IN, because it is a good story and she loves, Twiglet,Vampire Diaries etc. To make sure it was suitable for her I watched it first. It was OK but simply not in the Swedish versions league in any department, acting, direction,atmosphere.The two leads in particular just didnt cut the mustard.

  • Comment number 50.

    I remember being quite excited going to the cinema with a few of my friends to watch this. I had heard the rave reviews and practically promised them it would be good. We were all a little non-plussed to find that none of us really enjoyed it at all. Least of all me.

    I found large stretches of the film uneventful and dull. Slower paced films aren't often an issue for me, but this one was. The characters are also difficult to empathise with, or like, and I soon felt that I was watching events (slowly) unfold in a story I had really little interest in (and which I predicted the resolution of quite quickly).

    I do not find it to be particularly touching or moving either. I actually find it quite dark and grubby. Where some see the blond protagonist to be a typical, troubled adolescent, I saw a disturbed kid who had a fascination for violence. The vampire girl doesn't liberate him and save him from the bullies in my mind (that's just a by-product of her actual plan). She grooms him to be her next guardian, like the sinister, murderous man who 'looks after her' at the start. His relationship is kept largely ambiguous iirc, but if he is not a predator then he our protagonist at an advanced age - one who has looked after the girl and her vampiric needs until too old and ready for discarding.

    The end, where they flee on the train, just seemed like the beginning of another turn of a grim wheel for me. I was glad when the lights came on and this film finished. TBH, the only bit I enjoyed was the bit with the cats, it was daft and lightened the oppressive dirge I was seeing.

  • Comment number 51.

    I loved this film so much because having been a victim of bullying and having thoughts of wanting vengeance against those who bullied. Also it is the at the time of first viewing it, it was the anti twilight which made me want to scream at every girl who just said in the lecture theatre (so it at uni in a horror film day) "oooohhhhhh it's twilight!" NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOO! But a brilliant film hands down.

  • Comment number 52.

    I love this film, it really hits at the silent pain of being bullied and the frustration of not being able to do anything about it. I'm glad I watched mark's video as before I hadn't got the scar reference about sex change, and it was just a kinda of unanswered question about the film. A particular highlight is the suddenness of his revenge against the key bully, and how this one moment of misjudgement gets him in more trouble than the years of bullying had ever for his tormentors.

  • Comment number 53.

    Saw the film when it came out and thought it was pretty good without blowing my mind.Looking back the bit i remember is the Swimming pool scene which stayed with me.

  • Comment number 54.

    This is completely off topic but the only place there's a chance of you (Mark) seeing it: How about doing quick reviews on older films of which you haven't already expressed your opinions on (or have but of which there is no available footage). American Beauty springs to mind.

  • Comment number 55.

    A good example of the difference between the original and the Hollywood remake is the ending (swimming pool scene).
    The original ends with the girl gazing at the boy (after rescuing him); in Hollywood's version it's the the other way round.
    It's a crucial difference. Not as effective, character wise.
    In the original it also helps if you know Morse code. (The tapping on the box at the end.)

  • Comment number 56.

    There's no doubt, Let The Right One In IS a very good film, but it does raise some questions:

    The vampire little girl has an adult male guardian. This is clearly a huge convenience, as he can do the necessary day-to-day things she cannot, like drive, rent hotels, etc etc. By replacing him with a little boy, she is placing herself in a position of vulnerability, as 2 children travelling on their own are going to attract attention, and find it a lot harder to blend in. Plus, the boy isn't physically strong enough to take on the role of protector, blood-supplier, etc. Which, ultimately, makes the ending implausible.

    Also, there's the faint whiff of paedophilia about the relationship between the girl and her adult guardian, which is actually strengthened by the emotional bond between the girl and the boy: after all, he too will grow up, while she won't...

  • Comment number 57.

    I agree that this is a wonderful film which beautifully evocates the pain and torment of being an isolated teenager - BUT it is not just this - it does succeed as a scary horror film in its own right. I watched this film in our local independent cinema when it came out. I was the only person in the auditorium and by the time the film had finished and I had to walk back to the car on my own - I was fairly jumpy and have to admit ran all the way - which is pretty embarrasing when you're a 40 something mother of two. This is a film with proper characterisation, depth and layers and has much to be savoured - but don't watch it on your own.

  • Comment number 58.

    Let The Right One In is outstanding. Preaching to the converted on this blog. I did pick up Let Me In on Blu-Ray and every time I try to watch it I fall asleep.
    Either way ... think I'll stick the LTROI DVD on again this week as I can't be bothered with all the ad's on Film Four.

  • Comment number 59.

    I saw both films when they were first released in cinema, but not since so I can't comment about repeat viewings. While 'Let The Right One In' was easily superior to its remake, I didn't think 'Let Me In' was a bad film, but I did think it was simply more of the same and just lazy film making.
    It appeared to be a film without a director. Matt Reeves instead of doing his job just seemed to say, "You see that other film?... Just do that again", and the cast and crew then gave their best shot but failed to live up to it.
    Still not a terrible film, but I'd definitely pick the original to watch again.

  • Comment number 60.

    I liked Let the Right One in when I saw it in the cinema, but I wasn't knocked out by it as some have. It may be that I was simply tired of the whole vampire meme. Do parents these days, as their children reach adolescence, have "the talk" --> "as you reach this age, your body may be feeling different, that doesn't mean you're becoming an undead bloodsucker, you have to understand that vampirism is not an actual lifestyle choice."

    The other thing that distanced me from the film is the queasy perversity of how the boy's anger is actualized through a kind of pact with the devil friendship with his ageless asexual friend. The horror of the film is not the short controlled bursts of violent vamping, but the tragedy of the boy dooming himself to become the monster's keeper.

    I am a huge fan of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although I think it's a bit silly to say their similarity is that they're equally not about spies/vamps, that's just saying they both have significant subtexts. They do bookend each other for a more thematic reason, they are both about trust. Let The Right One In shows a journey towards trust through the minefield of adolescence, and TTSS is about distrust in middle aged men which only grows towards more distrust. You may as well call TTSS "Weed the Right One Out".

    I recorded Let The Right One In when it was last on Film4, I'll give it another go today to see if I let it in this time.

    ------ (caesura for viewing purposes) -----

    OK, having rewatched it, I feel pretty much the same, except, and I shouldn't be too surprised by this, given the regard I have for Tinker Tailor..., is that I found it bore rewatching quite well. The admirable economy and control that Alfredson shows is all the more apparent. There were some parallels between Håkan and Oskar (bookish and shy) that I may have not noticed first time around (this is important as it gives a hint to what Oskar's eventual fate may be). I still didn't identify with Oskar, but I don't think you need to to enjoy the film, or find it by turns suspenseful, touching or disturbing.

    Another interpretation that could be put on the film is that it is a parable about "grooming", is you take into account the true age of Eli. Alfredson was right to remove the paedophilia element from the story, he does this by draining most sexuality from the Eli relationship, which also has the effect of making Eli more otherworldly in the left hanging answer "I'm not a girl". If any grooming is going on, it is Eli grooming Oskar to be a serial killer, playing upon his morbid fascination with murder, and his revenge fantasies. We do have some scenes of Oskar as well adjusted when having good times with his parents, so the sociopathic path is not his only possible destiny. It is the overlay of this element on top of the more standard bonding friendship story that makes the film so disturbing, even in its "happy" ending.

    So anyone would be wrong to write it off as Ingmar Bergman does Twilight, or I was a Teenage Renfield, which I may have been close to doing.

  • Comment number 61.

    Will re-watch it tonight as I saw it 2 years ago. Thought it was beautiful. Have to agree with an earlier comment about Tinker Tailor though.....an over-rated bore! The cgi owl metaphor,in particular,caused my friend and I to laugh out loud in the cinema. Not a patch on the Alec Guiness BBC version

  • Comment number 62.

    Re: Brians' observations on Eli grooming Oskar, I very much got the impression from the book and the film that unlike the child in Interview with a Vampire who grows mentally but not physically, that Eli is frozen as a 12 yr old in all respects. Yes he has memories of his past but but has not developed an adult personality - sexual or otherwise - and simply wants a companion/friend of his own age - this is why he no longer has a connection with Hakan. Again, unlike classic vampire lore, the need for blood is a necessity rather than a desire.

  • Comment number 63.

    #62 s -- can't comment on the book, and I don't claim that the "grooming" is a distinct interpretation of the film, but just one that there is room for. It is left purposefully unclear, for instance, when Eli says "I am not a girl" whether this means, "no, I'm a boy" or "no, I'm not a child" or "no, I'm not human". The almost pointed ambiguity lends much to the otherworldliness of the character, and lends much to the atmosphere and suspense of the film as we can't quite fathom Eli's intentions and motivations. I would believe, based solely on Eli's actions within the film that Eli is frozen in a non-sexual pre pubescent state as you've indicated. However this does include a childish obliviousness to consequences, and we can see that Oskar's fate may be that he will be eventually as callously disposed of, however willingly, as Hakan has been.

    The ambiguities that are left which allow for multiple interpretations of the degree of monstrousness of Eli, and which go unresolved, is really one of the film's strengths as the unease this leaves is unremitting. And given Alfredson's masterful control, clearly intentional.

  • Comment number 64.

    Like most people on this blog i'd seen Let the Right One In already. The thing that struck me most on the first viewing was the extraordinary climax in the swimming pool and how such shocking violence is conveyed in such a coolly detached manner. Reading the above comments, others clearly connected with the film on a much deeper level than i did.

    The film which i'm surprised hasn't been mentioned but deals with a similar subject, which i rate more highly, is George Romero's best film 'Martin'. A disturbed alienated teenager who may or may not a hundred year old vampire, who can only relate to women by drinking their blood. This film is more akin to Taxi Driver or Catcher in the Rye in its depiction of a societal outsider.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to say, I don't think there's ANY ambiguity about the vampire's statement: "I am not a girl". She is saying, quite categorically, "Don't expect your relationship with me to be like one you'd have with a normal girl-next-door. I may once have been a human child, and still look like one, but I am no longer."

    IMHO, to interpret the saying as meaning "I am not a young female" is just silly.

  • Comment number 66.

    If Let Me In was a stand alone film, then it would be ok but it's not and this is key. It is a very poor remake of a classic made by studio executives that only saw vampires, and in light of the recent twilight movies, cash tills ringing therefore completely missing the subtext of the film that made it such compelling watching.

    I think Let the Right One In is a masterpiece and anyone involved in its making should be so proud that they have made of the great horror films of all time.. Stunning..

  • Comment number 67.

    I have seen both films. I saw the original in the cinema six times... I was quite a fan. I remember feeling very angry that the film had been remade and swore that it would never have the pleasure of bothering my retinas. But one day whilst kicking my heels at my local Buster of Block, curiosity got the better of me...

    I didn't like it, but it wasn't the complete car crash I was expecting. It didn't have any of the charm or passion of the original... It was kind of like one of those bland-as-hell covers of a great song you hear on a John Lewis advert. You want to get really angry at them, but they're not really worth the energy.

    HOWEVER... What did anger me a great deal was an interview with the director that was included (in a 'making of') with the director, Matt Reeves. He talked at great lengths about why he wanted to make this film... He loved the book, it was like it had just been written for him, he wanted to capture the essence of the original story, etc etc. It sounded word-forword like an interview I had read with Tomas Alfredson. The original film was never mentioned once and he was talking as if he had discovered the novel. This would have been fine had he of made a different film to the original... But he hadn't, in fact quite a lot of it was shot-for-shot the same. He talked about the what inspired the cinematography... I can't remember what inspirations he gave, but he certainly didn't say, "I just copied Alfredson's Hans Holbein vibe", which would have been the correct answer.

    I remember reading that the re-make would tackle issues in the book that the original film didn't cover. This wasn't the case at all... It left me thinking that Matt Reeves' copy of the novel probably still has a bookmark neatly placed at around page 89, when he thought, "pffft... I'll just watch the film." I tried that in an English exam once... I didn't do so well - I kind of missed the point of the text apparently.

    Sorry to be so ranty... But like I said, I'm a fan.

  • Comment number 68.

    I totally agree with you Mark on this one (Not like last time I mailed in...) The Swedish original is an utterly fantastic dark fantasy which just DID NOT need a pointless (almost) scene for scene re-make... made only because the original had subtitles. (The same of course is true for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/Ringu/Juon and countless others) The new version adds NOTHING to expand the story or lore of the original which WOULD have made it have more worth as a stand alone film. (In the book AND the original movie the vampire IS a boy right?) I dont understand the fear that Hollywood has with simply re-releasing the originals just because they (alarmingly) worry that an audience will not want/have the mental capacity to sit through a subtitled film. Do the studios hold the movie going public in that much contempt? Are movie goers REALLY that lazy? Do they LIKE wasting money on making an entirely new film instead of just paying for some aggressive marketing of the original? If a remake is actually a remake in the sense that the film bears no resemblance to the original then fine... but when it is basically identical WHAT IS THE POINT? I do not buy the idea that subtitles put an audience off as I live in Japan where ALL western films/non Japanese films (with the exception of animated films) are subtitled. I think that collective minds would adapt much more easily than the studios clearly fear but these films are not even given the CHANCE to fail so I guess that we will never know. Anyway, fantastic film and one of my favourite horror films of all time.

  • Comment number 69.

    So I watch this again, as I have it on DVD and it's an outstanding film. The violent scenes still really got to me.

    @ #63. Brian - New Forest wrote:

    The ambiguities that are left which allow for multiple interpretations... And given Alfredson's masterful control, clearly intentional.


    What Brian says is about right.

  • Comment number 70.

    I've always thought that Oskar was being groomed to replace the older man who procures the blood, making Eli a much more sinister character. After all, she is a vampire. There were a couple scenes where we see a similar weakness of Hakan's character. Once when Eli wants to talk via Morse code for the first time and orders Hakan out of the room. Another when he meekly asks her not to see Oskar for a night. Hell, he's probably aware of her plan since he must have replaced another "familiar" in the past.

  • Comment number 71.

    OFF TOPIC

    #43

    Muppets in Space Part II
    Empire Strikes Back...Again!
    Star Wars: the Wonder Years
    Leia & Luke: the Odd Couple

    ON TOPIC

    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN still haunts me long after seeing it. If you think it's just some pretentious, arty foreign film with no logic and no appeal, you're a)philistine and b)an idiot.

  • Comment number 72.

    I don't think the remake is anywhere near as bad as you suggest. The two leads are fantastically strong, and I think the attempt at trying to tie in with the political aspects of the 80s was interesting as well. I don't think it entirely works and it's in the shadow of the original, but I think it's pretty good. I admit that in both versions, the film didn't quite gel with me. It's a beautifully directed, and it has an odd, icy tone that mixes horror and tenderness, but I'm not sure how to interpret it. That's probably more a failing of me than of the movie, but is Oskar becoming a new familiar for Eli? Has he embraced violence and darkness? Are we suppose to believe that he's embraced a darkness within himself? It's an odd film that tightwalks its tone very carefully, I'm just not sure what to make of it. But that may well be the point.

 

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