So, just in case you haven’t heard. Let Me In is a remake of the Swedish, Let The Right One In , from the novel by admitted Swede, John Ajvide Lindqvist. Now seeing as I have a finger on the pulse of Hollywood (ok, I put a glass against the wall and listen to my neighbor watching Entertainment Tonight), I’m privy to the fact the American producers are trying to distance themselves from the original. They want you to believe they optioned the English language rights to the book before the Swedish film was even released. They even feigned worry:
What if people start calling our film a remake?
Oh come on. Ours is completely different.
Ours is in English.
And that’s basically the difference (ok, there’s a few more, but I’ll get to those in a minute). I’ve heard the producers tried to hide behind “most of the people involved in Let Me In, hadn’t even seen Let The Right One In.” And ya know what, that could very well be true. I bet craft services, hair & makeup, and the on-set tutor hadn’t see the original Swedish version. But ya know who did? Matt Reeves, the writer/director of Let Me In.
When your credits say “based on the screenplay & novel,” and then you copy scenes and even some compositions & tone, it’s a remake. Granted, you went heavier on the CTO and balanced towards tungsten (that’s shop talk), there was still a strong visual similarity between the two movies.
So what’s this movie about anyway? Well, it’s about a lonely, bullied boy, who meets a lonely bloodsucking monster (in the Swedish version Eli’s gender is ambiguous, but there’s a brief glimpse of a scarred crotch which alludes to the fact that in the novel, Eli is a castrated boy). That’s basically it. Two lonely 12 year olds come together and comedy ensues.
The story takes place in the early 80’s during the Wintertime (outside Stockholm in the original films, and Albuquerque in the remake (cuz when you think “Wintertime,” you think “New Mexico“). In the Swedish version, they don’t have to keep reminding us of the time period. In the American version, we have to be reminded over and over, with images of Ronald Reagan on television and the art departments recreation of period products. I liked Now & Laters when I was a kid (reminds me of Summer at the pool), but I certainly didn’t go around singing the song. I’m surprised they didn’t have the kids watching Thundarr the Barbarian in order to hit the point one more time.
Now,what was the point of Elias Koteas‘ character in the American version (when I ask a question, please don’t answer)? They got rid of the friends of one of the victims in the original and consolidated them into a cop character. From my point of view, that dilutes the drama of the story. The friends have a stake (ha ha ha) in finding their friend’s killer. A cop is just doing his job. Was he there to justify the completely pointless flash forward at the beginning of the movie? Was he put there so the producers could say:
See, this isn’t a remake. We have a totally original character in our movie.
He brought nothing new to the table (in fact, he took things off the table).
Yeah, but we also made the boy’s mother a religious nut. That’s cool isn’t it. It explains why his parents aren’t together.
Is that because people only get divorced because of religious nuttery?
It adds subtext, man! It’s further motivation of why the boy would want to run off with a vampire. His home life sucks.
It’s obvious and cheap. It’s a beginner’s writing workshop technique. Like the birthmark on Richard Jenkin‘s face. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was for. I figured out for myself in the original film that Eli’s manservant had been with her since he was a boy. And I knew the same fate awaited Oskar. Stop assuming every audience member is so dumb they can’t figure things out. Even if they don’t figure it out, it leaves the door open for discussion and gives viewers something new to discover for repeat viewings.
Oh yeah, and that awful CGI work with Abby hopping around her victim’s shoulders, should’ve gotten somebody fired. Here’s a note to all you CGI artists out there: LEARN GODDAMN BASIC PHYSICS!! You guys have no concept of how a body moves, or how center of gravity pulls on a mass as it changes positions. Don’t use the “she’s supernatural” argument, because whatever she does would affect her victim too. As soon she flew around his shoulders, he would’ve gone down. This is not just for Let Me In, It’s all those movies using CGI characters. The best CGI creature is still Gollum, (then Weta blew it with King Kong).
Come on, man. It’s just a horror movie.
Hey, I’m fine with that. But you stood on the shoulders of the original film, denied the connection, and you were still looking up at their feet.
By itself, your movie is not bad. But since the original exists, and you failed to outshine it or bring anything truly original to the story, your remake is irrelevant.