Remake vs. Original: Let Me In vs. Let the Right One In

Welcome back to Remake vs. Original, wherein Hollywood must answer to my poison pen for their incessant remakes! Today we bring you the ULTIMATE BATTLE:

let me in vs. let the right one in

Round One: The basics.

Let Me In. USA, 2010. Written and directed by Matt Reeves. 116 mins.

Let the Right One In. Sweden, 2008. Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel. Directed by Tomas Alfredson. 115 mins.

Title:

Let Me In is the title of the American release of the novel, because publishers thought the original title was too long. I happen to love long titles, and Let Me In just doesn’t have the same poetry. -2

Let The Right One In is one of the eeriest and most elegant titles ever, and it’s the one chosen by novelist Lindqvist. If it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for you, AMERICA. +2

Country:

Speaking of AMERICA, I love my country bunches. But not when it comes to remaking foreign movies that just came out two years before. I never EVER like that, because JUST READ SUBTITLES, AMERICA. It’s super easy! -1

Sweden! They have snow and Lisbeth Salander and reindeer and aquavit and the Sami! I took a class on the Sami people once and they are quite interesting. Also, meat pies! I forget, did I mention Lisbeth Salander? +2 (for Lisbeth)

Year:

I am enjoying 2010 immensely. I went to a risotto festival last weekend! A festival. FOR RISOTTO. +1

2008 was sweet. I got married, got a house, got a dog, got my first credit card, and had to retake my driver’s test because I waited too long after my license expired. In other words, I got all of my growing up out of the way so I never have to grow up ever, ever again. No wait…all of that took place in 2009. Shit, what happened in 2008? -1

Writer:

Matt Reeves wrote The Pallbearer, which is a terrible, terrible movie. But he also wrote *SEVENTY-EIGHT* episodes of Felicity. Are you listening, Posh D? This +1‘s for you. +1

I find it rare and beautiful when a movie’s screenwriter also wrote the novel on which the film is based. Let more authors write the film adaptations of their work! Maybe I’m a snob, but if you’ve managed to write a successful novel, you can surely handle a screenplay, which is probably way easier. I dunno, don’t yell at me about this, I’ve never written either. They’re both harder than writing this post, I bet. At any rate: yay! John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote the novel AND the screenplay! +2

Director:

Matt Reeves directed Cloverfield, which has a clever conceit that was very well executed. +1 He also directed some episodes of Felicity! +1 He also directed The Pallbearer. -1 Despite that, he averages at +1.

Tomas Alfredson has directed so many things I’ve never heard of! But he directed Let the Right One In, and for that, win. +2

Film Length:

Let the Right One In is 1 minute shorter than Let Me In! That NEVER happens with foreign movies! +1

Round One goes to…Original!

Round Two: The leads.

lmi rubiks

Chloe Moretz (Abby) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Owen) in Let Me In have a charmingly solemn connection and are equally magnetic onscreen. The camera loves these kids. Their relationship is poignant and resonant, but remains on the level of an especially profound relationship between children. +1

lroi rubiks

Lina Leandersson (Eli) and Kåre Hedebrant (Oskar) also portray a sorrowful and affecting relationship. They’re not as Hollywood-camera ready, but the connection between them is far deeper, more mature and more unnerving than Moretz’s and Smit-McPhee’s. Leandersson delivers the world-weariness of an ancient being while Moretz comes across as a soberly precocious child. And while Smit-McPhee’s Owen is certainly a little oddball, Hedebrant’s unconventional performance as Oskar is at times deeply unsettling. The kids in Let Me In are cute and talented. The kids in Let the Right One In are INTENSE. +5

Round Two goes to…Original!

Round Three: The setting.

LET ME IN

Let Me In takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1983. It’s a small, bleak, snow-covered town of nothing much to do. As a setting, it’s perfect. +1

lroi snow

Let the Right One In is set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982. It’s a small, bleak, snow-covered town of nothing much to do. They are the same, except one is in New Mexico, and one is in Sweden. So, Sweden: +2

Round Three goes to…Original!

Round Four: The kills.

LET ME IN

This will most likely be an unpopular opinion, but I feel that Let Me In took the original kills from Let the Right One In and simply made them awesomer. I know, I know, it’s easy to just make something bloodier, gorier, louder and messier—and obviously the atmosphere of Let the Right One In is brilliant and poetic, but what can I say? I *like* blood. I like gore! I like mess and noise! Let Me In has some highly visceral and satisfying gore. That hospital scene? Tell me it’s not ten times more awesome than the hospital scene in LTROI! +3

lroi strung up

All of the deaths in Let the Right One In are filmed from a distance, dimly lit, relying on gruesome sound effects. And that’s cool and impressive and arty, etc. But I kept finding myself squinting, trying to see everything better, because I’m gross. That said, the climax/pool scene wins by A LOT. I’m not sure if it’s the jarring difference after so many understated deaths or if it’s just better, but that scene is FANTASTIC and the pool scene in LMI simply doesn’t live up to it. +1

Round Four goes to…Remake!

Round Five: The dialogue.

LET ME IN

The dialogue in Let Me In is haunting, charming, elegant and eccentric. It is also THE EXACT DIALOGUE from LTROI! I mean, yes, that dialogue is absolutely perfect, but seriously, Matt Reeves, I thought you weren’t interested in coming off like a hack? “I’m 12…more or less.” “You smell funny.” “You have to hit back hard. Harder than you dare.” “I’ve been 12 for a very long time.” “I’m not a girl. I’m nothing.” EXACTLY! THE! SAME! -2

lroi e & o

The dialogue in Let the Right One In is ALSO haunting, charming, elegant and eccentric. Plus, screenwriter/novelist Lindqvist actually wrote it. Finally, it’s said in adorable little Swedish accents. +5

Round Five goes to…Original!

Round Six: The protector.

LET ME IN

Richard Jenkins plays the man in Abby’s life, protecting and feeding and occasionally lusting after her. The movie makes their relationship a little more overt than in LTROI through the kitchen scene, but by showing the audience that he met Abby as a child and grew up with her, it both cheapens her relationship with Owen and makes “The Father’s” relationship with Abby less taboo. Richard Jenkins does a wonderful job, however, as the hapless, disheartened and devoted protector. +1

lroi hakan

Per Ragnar as Håkan does so much with far fewer lines than Jenkins. His facial expressions are heartbreaking, and the film never needs to spell out that he would do absolutely anything for Eli, because Ragnar portrays his devotion so emphatically. Their relationship is far more ambiguous than in LMI; neither reaches the insane levels of overshare that the book manages, however. +2

Round Six goes to…Original!

Round Seven: The bullies.

LET ME IN

Dylan Minnette (second from right) is pitch perfect as Kenny, the nuanced bully in Let Me In. He has one of those faces I kind of want to punch, you know, until all of a sudden his big brother’s running the show and I remember that he’s just a scared little boy and I really shouldn’t punch him. He’s a great addition to the cast. +1

lroi bullies

The bully in LTROI (R) is so completely weak-sauce that it makes Oskar even lamer by comparison. Seriously? THIS KID scares you?! Maybe that’s the point, but jeezy chreezy that kid is tiny. -1

Round Seven goes to…Remake!

Round Eight: The creepy factor.

lmi mask

LMI has some definite creep moments. When Abby caresses “The Father’s” cheek in the kitchen, Owen’s voyeuristic tendencies, his mom’s Jesus obsession, the crazy trash bag mask “The Father” wears when he goes out for kills: all super creepy. +1

lroi oskar 4

Oskar is far creepier than Owen. He scrapbooks murder! But what really tips this one over the top is the mutilated genitalia. Matt Reeves totally didn’t want ANYTHING to do with that shit. +2 (It’s super weird to award points to mutilated genitalia, but whattya gonna do?)

Round Eight goes to…Original!

Round Nine: The mustache.

LET ME IN

Let Me In does have Elias Koteas’s glorious mustache. Also, Elias Koteas. +3

elias no mustache

Let the Right One In does NOT have Elias Koteas’s glorious mustache. And not even Elias Koteas! -3

Round Nine goes to…Remake!

Round Ten: The winter wear.

let me in jacket

I spent all of Let Me In coveting Owen’s kick-ass puffy silver coat. GIMME IT! +1

lroi oskar

I mean, Oskar’s coat’s okay. I guess. -1

Round Ten goes to…Remake!

Round Eleven: The subtlety.

LET ME IN

For an American movie, Let Me In is fairly subtle. Which says exactly nothing at all, because American movies are usually about as subtle as Michael Bay. The score is really cool but unnecessarily dramatic. The photobooth pic is a nice touch except for the fact that it’s a complete PLOT ANVIL. The art direction is lovely but obvious. And god almighty, the CGI. When Abby vamps it up, this turns into a damned Underworld movie. She’s all fast and spidery and snarly and IT IS SO TRANSPARENT. I really, really hate the CGI. It’s completely unnecessary! -3

lroi pool

Let the Right One In gives a master’s class in subtlety (uhm, other than the mutilated genitalia). The entire plot is gleaned through hints. Eli’s history with Håkan is a complete guess to those who haven’t read the novel. There is almost no score at all, even during the credits, relying on pure atmosphere for suspense. The art direction is elegant and sparse. And there’s NO. EFFING. CGI. +3

Round Eleven goes to…Original!

In conclusion, the battle of Remake vs. Original: Let Me In vs. Let the Right One In goes to…

ORIGINAL!

let the right one in

*cheers applause the crowd goes wild!*

Was there ever any question? I’ll admit, after two solid years of waving my fists of fury in the air any time someone even mentioned Let Me In, the movie was lovely, effective and very well-done. If I’d never seen LTROI, I’d have been blown away. But I have seen it. It was really easy for me to see, because it’s free-streaming on Netflix! We can ALL watch it, and that’s why Let Me In does. not. need. to exist. Watch the original, read the book, and goddammit, Hollywood: STOP WITH THE UNNECESSARY REMAKES.

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16 Responses to “Remake vs. Original: Let Me In vs. Let the Right One In”

  1. Um, I believe in 2008 you met ME.

    I have not seen either of these films! BUT I WILL.

  2. How could I forget? 2008 for the win!

    You should totally see LTROI. It’s breathtaking, and my other friend Sarah who also can’t watch horror movies was completely able to watch this one!

  3. Christopher Says:

    So to be clear, Abby’s actually a girl in Let Me In?

  4. She says the words “I’m not a girl” several times, but that’s the only time they hint at it, and that could just as easily mean: “I’m not a girl, I’m a vampire.”

  5. Yeah, what’s the haps with the actual sex/gender issues in LMI? I was disappointed that they shied away with it as the did in LTROI, and if they’ve shied even farther away, that’s going to make me have a sad.

    marla, you have done me a service here!! I’m going to watch LMI at some point, but I doubt it will hold the special place in my heart that LTROI does. Kiss kiss!!

    (Also, in 2008, you got engaged! And I believe that was the year you paid off the last of your student loans. WHY DO I KNOW THAT?)

  6. They’ve definitely shied away from it even more. Everyone’s scared of the gender issues in the book for some reason! It’s stupid BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME.

    hehe you are the cutest! I totally DID get engaged and pay off my student loans in 2008!

  7. What’s especially weird about the way Reeves avoids the mutilated genitals issue is that he actually includes the scene where Oskar/Owen sees them. We see Owen spy on Abby while she changes, we see his face change expressions and he quickly back away. The only difference is that we don’t get the insert shot of Abby’s junk. I’m not saying he SHOULD have shown mutilated 12-yr old genitals, but why the hell include the scene, if you’re gonna bitch out on the focus of it? It’s impossible to understand what the scene is implying without that shot!

    I also have to second the opinion that the Underworld-esque CGI action was total bullshit, and is really, really noticeable, especially in a movie that’s so generally subdued. That being said, excellent blood, indeed! That first murder, where Richard Jenkins hangs the guy up, and casually punctures his victim’s throat, is totally disturbing, and a very effective way to illustrate how many times he’s done this before.

    Your finest Remake vs. Original yet, Marla! This would have been a real revelation, if it hadn’t just been made (and made better) 2 years ago. Matt Reeves clearly has talent, but I’m not convinced he’s got taste. He’s like the Nic Cage of directing!

  8. you evaluated all the right points, esp. wintewear and ELIAS KOTEAS!!

    and i WHOLEHEARTEDLY applaud the assignment of points for felicity. i probably won’t see the remake, but matt reeves, i will always be thankful to you for writing anything featuring ben and felicity.

  9. er, winteRwear. sorry. i was too excited to get to elias koteas.

  10. That WILL happen. ELIAS! KOTEAS! Even though I saw tons of stuff with him before this, I will now always think of him as the thug in Some Kind of Wonderful.

  11. “And there’s NO. EFFING. CGI.” Did you forget about the cats? Those cats were kinda hilariously bad.

  12. hah, oh man, I totally DID forget about the cats. YIKES.

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  16. I’m finnish, I don’t mind americans making remakes, I prefer The Ring to Ringu. I think somewhere between let me in and Let the rigth onn in would have been the greatest version of the film. Let me in has parts I really like.

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