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Let Me In vs. Let the Right One In

Submitted by admin on October 10, 2010 – 1:08 pmNo Comment
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The overriding thought after seeing the Matt Reeves directed Let Me In was not that I wanted to see it again or anxiously await the DVD release. Rather, it was an overwhelming desire to go back and watch the original Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. Both films are based on the novel Låt den rätte komma in by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The two films are fairly similar. If there were distinctive differences it would be that the American version consistently looks darker as in the lighting scheme. For instance the Swedish version starts out with a nighttime murder only with glaring white light bouncing off snow (and a nearby white standard poodle). The film’s climatic sequence involving a swimming pool likewise is brightly lit. The American version also has the same scenes but the atmosphere is rendered dark and famished by low levels of light.

Each film has moments that define good horror filmmaking. In the Swedish version it involves a supporting character that’s bitten by the vampire and then attacked by a bevy of cats in a scene both terrifying and comical. In the American version the caretaker of the young vampire, a tired old man played by the always reliable Richard Jenkins, kidnaps a victim in a car outside a convenience store. On the radio Blue Oyster Cult belts out with the song “Burning For You.” The scene ends with a one-take point of view from inside the car as it spins out of control and careens into as ditch. It should be noted that BOC is always welcome in horror films, just compare the original Halloween and its use of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

However the Swedish version should be tonally considered darker despite its bright atmosphere. This is most evident in a scene where the lead vampire, a young girl played by Lina Leandersson, changes dresses and we see a brief cut, less than a second, of a scar across her vagina. The entire movie she tells her next-door neighbor, a young boy, that she’s not a girl.

No American film, at least not one with an R-rating, is going to show that kind of female nudity. The American lead, actress Chloe Moretz (who also played Hit Girl in Kick Ass), plays on the fact that she’s not a girl and director/writer Reeves reveals that facet of her personality with dialogue and facial reaction shots, never resorting to actual European sensibilities.

- Michael Bergeron

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