Looking Back at 2010s Films: Let Me In (2010)

26 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

“Let the Right One In”…”Let Me In”…which one of these films do I prefer?

I don’t know.

Which one is better? A part of me wants to say “Let the Right One In” for how effective it is in its simplicity, but…I don’t know!

It’s that rare instance in which I like one film and its remake equally.

Actually, it’s more than that–I LOVE both of these movies!

The story is the same in each movie. A bullied lonely boy makes friends with a strange new girl living next door in his apartment building, and he doesn’t know until late in the friendship that she’s a vampire. So now, the boy has to decide whether or not he’ll let her into his life. (And vampires can’t come into your home without being invited…METAPHOR!)

The story is the same, but the movies aren’t the same. They’re both done differently, with different styles of filmmaking and even different ideas for the similar characters. And they’re both done beautifully!

“Let the Right One In” is a Swedish import that served as an “arthouse” vampire film. The beauty in the film comes from the simplicity–for example, nearly every scene is done in one take; in these scenes, we feel the emotional weight in the dramatic scenes and the intense rising fear of the horrific scenes. The friendship between the two 12-year-old main characters (well, one of them is actually 12; the other has been 12 for a very long time) feels just as genuinely sweet as it feels dangerous. You feel the plights of both of these people, and you realize that together, they can either be bad for each other or the best thing each other could ask for.

“Let the Right One In” is as beautiful as it is chilling, because it’s really *about something.* It has more on its mind than, say, brooding and admiring each other from afar. (Did I mention this released around the same time as “Twilight?” Did I need to?) It’s about two lost souls who find each other and face an uncertain future together.

Wait, “Let the Right One In” came out in 2008, and this is part of the Looking Back at 2010s Films, so I should talk about “Let Me In” (released in 2010).

I was open to the idea of an American remake, though I was a bit uncertain, because “Let the Right One In” was so terrific. When I noticed “Let Me In” was getting positive reviews, that’s when I started getting excited…

And I loved “Let Me In” for the same reasons I loved “Let the Right One In” and yet for different reasons too. It was more mainstream-friendly than “Let the Right One In,” to be sure. But there was still a great deal of atmosphere aided by gorgeous cinematography–I felt like I could reach out and touch the movie, it was that effective; I felt like I was there!

I felt more sorry for the boy in this one, named Owen, and he’s played by a great young actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee, who would go on to act in movies such as “Slow West” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”). The boy in the original film (Oskar) was quite pitiful and you sympathized with him, but you could sense more of a darkness in Owen’s eyes when he was angry and more misery when he gets picked on. When he has to make a choice as to whether or not he can trust the girl (Abby, played by Chloe Grace Moretz), the tears in his eyes made me feel even more for the poor kid!

And whereas “Let the Right One In” put nearly as much focus on the local townspeople who either fall victim to the vampire or become a vampire themselves, “Let Me In” keeps the focus on the protagonists for the most part (with only a prologue involving a police detective played by Elias Koteas serving as a chilling pushover). To me, I felt that was the right choice.

Oh, and the frightening-as-hell swimming-pool scene from the original is represented in the remake as well…let me just say that I lost my appetite because I was so freaked out. (The original is still scarier, again because of its simplicity, but this one got me pretty well too.)

I can’t choose! I love both “Let the Right One In” and “Let Me In” exactly the same. (And I’ve had nine years to think about this!) They’re just…both…my favorite vampire movie. And I can’t see myself bending anytime soon.

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