Let The Right One In
Let the Right One In was one of my favorite films from last year. Truly a masterpiece both in visual and written storytelling. I thought Let the Right One was a rare film that didn’t really fit a specific genre. Most would classify it as horror, but the movie was less about the horror and more about a relationship that forms between a 12-year-old boy and a vampire girl forever stuck in a 12-year-old's body.
The story follows Oscar, a bullied and tormented boy from a broken home. When a mysterious girl moves next door he finds a friend and confidant in Eli. Eli however is not a girl, but in fact a vampire. Eli helps build Oscar’s confidence to confront his tormenters, further increasing his devotion to her to the point that Oscar is able to look past the fact that Eli is a vampire.
Director Thomas Alfredson does a superb job balancing the relationship along with the horror. His ability to walk that thin line lifts Let the Right One In into a rare caliber of film. Alfredson chose to understate the horror and instead focused on bringing the audience into Oscar’s world. In fact the adults in the film are rarely shown above the shoulders. His choices of letting the images sit and let the action develop in the frame as oppose to using quick edits and loud sound effects enhance the emotion in the film. I also loved how subtle the use of both gore and vampire make up was used. Eli is shown with blood, but they never resort to having her turn into a demon looking monster. Keeping her childlike as she kills is much more frightening. And in one brilliant part of the film the mere flash in her eyes are shown and is far more creepy than anything seen in a hard hitting American horror film.
The two child leads in the movie are nothing short of amazing. Not only are their performances stunning, but unlike Hollywood children actors, these kids looked and felt real. This fit in perfectly with the entire tone of the movie.
I am the first to tell you that I generally do not like horror movies, but Let the Right One In rises above the genre. Although it’s a foreign film (Swedish) both the subtitles and the dubbing are not too distracting. Be sure to get the revised release that has the original theatrical dub as the home video dub is said to be less than optimal. I can’t recommend Let the Right One In any higher, even to those that don’t like horror movies.
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Let Me In
This is the American remake of Let the Right One In that was made less than a year after the release of the original. Remakes are often weaker than the original and that remains true here. However I will give filmmaker Matt Reeves credit that what he delivered wasn’t a bad movie which it could have easily been.
Let Me In’s storyline is the same as the original. The major differences in the American release, aside from name character name and location changes, is that Let Me In loses all of the subtlety that the original was able to capture so gracefully.
In the new version the demon creature effects are used in full force. Even the antics of the local bullies are much harder hitting. The effects were much gorier and the use of CGI in places took me out of the movie, it was that fake looking. Perhaps the worst choice is in the lead boy's translation to the new film. In the original we could understand the boy’s plight of being bullied and understood his behavior. In the new version they introduce the lead wearing a serial killer mask, spying on neighbors in uncomfortable ways and essentially painting him as someone who was already capable of doing evil deeds. I think it hurt the character development and doesn’t make him as easy for an audience to understand.
What the film did do right is casting the two child leads. Chloe Moretz is well on her way to stardom. She delivers a brilliant performance not only in Let Me In, but she was spectacular in Kick Ass too. Kodi-Smit-McPhee is also strong in his performance. The high level of acting from all involved prevent the film from failing.
It’s hard for me to give a completely fair review to Let Me In after being such a huge fan of the original. Many who saw the American version were thrilled with the movie. The story is still strong here and if you are going to choose a version of the film to see I know most will choose the American version as to prevent from having to listen to a dub or reading subtitles. I understand the reluctance to do that. I would plead with you to give the original chance though as the payoff is much greater.
Click here to buy the film directly from Amazon.com.
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.