Movie Review: Let the Right One In

Genre: Horror

Rating: R for some bloody violence including disturbing images, brief nudity and language.

Feature Running Time: 115 minutes

Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Studio: EFTI

Whenever a film makes the leap across borders, fans have a right to be nervous. Was  Point of No Return as good as the original Le Femme Nikita?  How did The Ring fare compared to the Japanese version? What about The Grudge compared to Ju-On? The British film Death at a Funeral is one of the best examples of gallows’ humor released in the last five years, but did moving the setting to America and making the characters African American in any way improve on the original riffs?

In the next year American film fans are going to be treated to Let Me In, based on the Swedish film, Let the Right One In.

The original work, based on Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is about Oskar, a mournful twelve-year-old who lives in a working class neighborhood with his divorced mother. He is a lonely outsider, socially awkward and unmercifully scapegoated at school. A man and little girl move into the apartment next door and soon Oskar has a new friend, Elli, who happens to be an ancient vampire in a little girl’s body.

One would think from the above paragraph that this has all the makings of a Disney film. One would be mistaken. This is dark and painful, with the characters believable within their despairing working class setting. As trust develops between the boy and girl, cementing their friendship, the audience can see the inevitable choices  which must be made. She is a vampire, after all, and little by little her presence in the community is putting her and those around her at risk.

Let the Right One In is powerful film. It has few special effects, the pacing is slower than one associates with modern horror. Instead, the camera is tight on the human relationships so that we have invested so much emotion in these characters that when they face crisis, we feel their anxiety.

The new film is set in New Mexico. Although the producer claims the American interpretation will hew close to the original, he also asserts it will aim for a broader audience.

“We’ll be able to ramp things up a bit.”

 But at what cost? The original worked because the characters and their interactions were so vivid.

The one thing that gives hope in the new film is the presence of Chloe Moretz, known for her eleven-year-old presence as Hit Girl in this year’s Kick Ass. Since so much of the film will be dependent on the abilities of the actors to make a connection with the audience, one has hope Moretz will easily establish that connection. The male lead will be handed to Kodi Smit-McPhee. Smit-McPhee has appeared in several films, but most recently he played the role of the son alongside Viggo Mortenson in The Road.

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