(Here is an awesome guest post from the fantastic Emma @ Mabismab - please hop on over to her blog and show her some love!)
Wow, here I am again! I'm so lucky to have such a great friend who will let me share my amateur views on film on her blog – Thanks Mrs B! (Emma is being far too modest!)
This time, I'm here to talk about vampire films. More specifically, I'm here to discuss the two versions of Let The Right One In; the Swedish film of the same name, and the American “Let Me In”.
It is only very recently (this weekend, in fact) that I have ventured to watch the American adaptation. I watched the Swedish film in the cinema as soon as it was released, and loved every second. This was closely followed by reading the (very brilliant) book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. When it came to Let Me In being released, I felt that the Americans had made this film too soon. It was barely a year since the Swedish release, and my enjoyment of it wasn't ready to be eclipsed either positively or negatively by the English speaking version. The reviews had also been a little unconvincing, so, I sat back and watched other things. God help me I actually watched Jennifer’s Body on the quest for vampire visual consumption...
Of course, the lure of a vampire film inspired by a novel I knew to be great couldn't be kept at bay for long, and so it was with anticipation that I settled down to watch Let Me In on a suitably bleak Bristolian day.
Well, I have to say that I'm glad that I waited this long. The film is very almost a scene for scene copy of the Swedish film, and the performances of the two children are creepily alike in both versions. If I had watched it at its release I think I would have resented it for that, being so soon, but now I find it was nice to have a non-departure from such a stunning original attempt.
Chloe Moretz is currently “actress du jour” for the up-and-coming star hunters among us, and in this film it is very easy to see why. Both she and her counterpart Kodi Smit-McPhee are brilliantly meek and fragile in their exchanges. They convey that childlike awkwardness with great style and I will admit my only disappointment with these two characters is that the American writers chose to call Moretz’ character Abby instead of Eli and Smit-Mcphee's character Owen instead of Oskar. Never mind eh, they have a habit of unnecessary name changes... (
I also found the snowy setting just as believable in the American estate as in Sweden. The cinematography, although it lacked an artistry that was evident in the Swedish version, was nonetheless interesting and engaging, if a little “standard”.
I actually think that in one respect, the American version surpassed the Swedish: The phone call Owen makes to his father is deeply moving, and brings something more to the character than the “bullied school misfit” that would have been all too familiar for a teen-targeted film at the moment.
Of course, there were mixed reviews for this film for a reason, and I can only put them down to the completely unneeded CGI. Watching Abby clamber up a tree as if she had just escaped The Ring was jarring, to say the least, in a film so otherwise unassuming and modest. It wasn't even a scene that was integral, it was just there because it could be; because it was Hollywood. The same can also be said of Abby’s “transformation” - also unneeded and also bringing something of a gimmicky, tacky edge to an otherwise poetic concept.
One of my favourite moments from the Swedish film was the pool scene. If you have seen it, you might agree that it was one of the most beautiful, graphically violent things to be watched in 2008. Something of a contradiction, but true. Unfortunately Hollywood got all Hollywood about it, and the scene's subtlety was destroyed -very much a shame as I had looked forward to a new representation of it all film long. Deep down, though, I knew it would be as it was. I shouldn't be so surprised!
At the end of the day, I don’t know whether or not I would encourage anyone to watch Let Me In, but I wouldn't dissuade from it. Similarly to much of the “new” things in the film, I felt the entire thing was just a bit unnecessary. If you want Let The Right One In without subtitles, watch this. If you want to see why Chloe Moretz might be worth putting Oscar bets on when she’s a bit older, watch this. Otherwise, if you’re choosing between the Swedish version and the American one, I honestly don't think it matters...