CC: Let The Right One In (2004)(2008) & Let Me In (2010)

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Friday, January 16, 2015

CC: Let The Right One In (2004)(2008) & Let Me In (2010)

Tonight I want to talk about what is easily one of my favorite vampire stories of all time.  I had access to both versions of the movie and decided to start with the original and enjoy the subtitlely goodness.  I was blown away by how amazing Let The Right One In is.  Expecting the English adaptation to not live up to it’s source material I was pleasantly surprised to find Let Me In to be one of the best adaptations I have ever seen of a foreign film.  As much as I believe the two films to be perfection, the novel is even better.

Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in) is a 2004 vampire fiction novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.  The story centers on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a centuries-old vampire child, Eli.  It takes place in Blackeberg, a working class suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.  The book focuses on the darker side of humanity, dealing with issues such as existential anxiety, fatherlessness, alcoholism, school bullying, pedophilia, child transgenderism, and murder.

The book was a bestseller in the author's home country of Sweden and was translated into several languages, including English.  A Swedish-language film, Let the Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, was released in 2008.  An English-language film adaptation titled Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves, was released in 2010.

The title refers to the Morrissey song "Let the Right One Slip In", and the element of vampire folklore which says that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited.  The American version is called Let Me In because the publishers believed that the original title was too long.  They first suggested the title be changed to Let Her In, but Lindqvist suggested Let Me In instead given that 'Her' was inaccurate.  A paperback with the original title was later released to promote the film.

In 1981 Blackeberg, Stockholm, Oskar is a 12-year old boy who lives with his mother, who is loving and with whom he initially seems to have a close connection.  His father, whom Oskar visits occasionally, is an alcoholic living in the countryside.  Because the boy is the victim of merciless bullying, Oskar has gained morbid interests, which include crime and forensics, and keeps a scrapbook filled with newspaper articles about murders.

One day, he befriends Eli, a child of about the same age, who just moved in next door.  Eli lives with an older man named Håkan, a former teacher who was fired when caught with possession of child pornography and has since become a vagrant.  Eli is revealed to be a vampire who was turned as a child and therefore stuck forever in a young body and mind.  Oskar and Eli develop a close relationship, and Eli helps Oskar fight back against his tormentors.  Throughout the book their relationship gradually becomes closer, and they reveal more of themselves and in particular fragments of Eli's human life.  Among the details revealed is that Eli is a boy who was castrated when he was turned into a vampire over 200 years ago.  However, Eli dresses in female clothing and is perceived by outsiders as a young girl.

Håkan serves Eli, whom he loves, by procuring blood from the living, fighting against his conscience and choosing victims whom he can physically trap, but who are not too young.  Eli gives him money for doing this, though Håkan makes it clear he would do it for nothing if Eli allowed them to be physically intimate.  Håkan offers to go out one last time under the condition that he spend a night with Eli after he gets the blood, but with the caveat that he may only touch Eli.

Håkan's last attempt to get blood fails and he is caught.  Just before capture, however, he intentionally disfigures himself with acid so that the police will not be able to trace Eli through him.  When Eli finds him in the hospital, Håkan offers his blood and is drunk dry while sitting on the window ledge, but a guard interrupts them and Eli fails to kill him.  So that he will not end up becoming a vampire also, Håkan throws himself out of the window to the ground below.  Despite this, he soon reanimates as a mindless vampire driven only by his desire for Eli.  Then relentlessly pursuing him, Håkan manages to trap Eli in a basement and tries to rape Eli, but Eli fights him off and escapes.  Later, the wounded Håkan is destroyed by a youth from the neighborhood who accidentally gets locked in the basement with him.

Meanwhile, the Blackeberg local Lacke suspects a child is responsible for the murder of his best friend, Jocke (whom Eli has killed for blood).  Later, Lacke witnesses Eli attack his sometime-girlfriend, Virginia.  He attempts to drink her blood, but is fought off by Lacke.  Virginia survives, but starts turning into a vampire.  She does not realize her "infection" until she tries to prolong her life by drinking her own blood, and finds that exposure to the sun causes boils on her skin.  Upon being hospitalized, Virginia realizes what she has turned into and kills herself in her bed by deliberately exposing herself to daylight.

Oskar eventually fights back and injures his tormentor, Jonny, for which the boy's older brother Jimmy hunts down and attempts to hurt Oskar in retaliation.  Oskar further incurs their wrath when he sets fire to their desks, destroying a treasured photo album belonging to their father.  They corner Oskar at night at the local swimming pool and attempt to drown him; however, Eli rescues Oskar and decapitates the two brothers, and together they flee the city with Eli's money and possessions.

Let the Right One In (2008)

  • Original Title: Låt den rätte komma in
  • Genre: Drama – Horror
  • Directed: Tomas Alfredson
  • Produced:
    • Frida Asp 
    • Gunnar Carlsson 
    • Ricard Constantinou 
    • Suzanne Hamilton 
    • Henric Larsson 
    • Carl Molinder 
    • John Nordling 
    • Lena Rehnberg 
    • Per-Erik Svensson
  • Written: John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel & Screenplay)
  • Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu, Pale Olofsson, Cayetano Ruiz, Patrik Rydmark, Johan Sömnes, Mikael Erhardsson, Rasmus Luthander
  • Music: Johan Söderqvist
  • Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
  • Editing:
    • Tomas Alfredson 
    • Dino Jonsäter
  • Studio:
    • EFTI  
    • Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige  
    • Filmpool Nord  
    • Sveriges Television  
    • WAG  
    • Canal+  
    • The Chimney Pot  
    • Fido Film  
    • Ljudligan
  • Distributed:
    • Sandrew Metronome Distribution  
    • Magnet Releasing  
    • Magnolia Home Entertainment  
    • Mongrel Media  
    • Sandrews
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 24 October 2008 (Sweden) 
    • 24 October 2008 (USA)
  • Running Time: 115 minutes
  • Country: Sweden
  • Language:
    • Swedish 
    • Spanish

The film tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.  Alfredson, unconcerned with the horror and vampire conventions, decided to tone down many elements of the novel and focus primarily on the relationship between the two main characters.  Selecting the lead actors involved a year-long process with open castings held all over Sweden.  In the end, the 11-year-olds Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson were chosen for the leading roles.  They were subsequently commended by both Alfredson and film reviewers for their performances.

The film received widespread international critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the "Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature" at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation's 2008 Méliès d'Or (Golden Méliès) for the "Best European Fantastic Feature Film", as well as four Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute and the Saturn Award for Best International Film.

Oskar, a meek 12-year-old boy, resides with his mother Yvonne in the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1981 and occasionally visits his father Erik in the countryside.  It is not clear why Erik is living apart from Yvonne, but on one such visit, when Oskar and Erik are enjoying a cozy night playing games, a drunken neighbor arrives and Erik starts to drink heavily with him, breaking up the cozy father/son evening.  Oskar collects clippings from newspapers and magazines about grisly murders and pictures of hunting knives.  He keeps a large hunting knife under his mattress.

Oskar's classmates regularly bully him, and he spends his evenings imagining revenge.  One night he meets Eli, who appears to be a pale girl of his age.  Eli has recently moved into the next-door apartment with an older man, Håkan.  Eli initially informs Oskar that they cannot be friends.  Over time, however, they begin to form a close relationship, with Oskar lending his Rubik's Cube to Eli, and the two exchanging Morse code messages through their adjoining wall.  Håkan requests that Eli stop seeing Oskar.  After questioning Oskar about a cut on his cheek, Eli learns from him about his being bullied by schoolmates and encourages him to stand up for himself.  This inspires Oskar to enroll for weight-training classes after school.

Meanwhile the otherwise well-prepared Håkan stops and kills a passerby on a busy footpath near a main road to harvest fresh blood for Eli.  But he fails to return with any when he is interrupted by an oncoming dog walker.  Eli subsequently waylays and kills a local man, Jocke, making his drunken way home from a bar after having said goodnight to his best friend, Lacke.  A local cat-loving recluse, Gösta, witnesses the attack from his flat, but hardly believes what he has seen.  Håkan hides Jocke's body in an ice-hole in the local lake.  Håkan later makes another well-prepared but incompetently executed effort to obtain blood for Eli by trapping a teenage boy in a changing room after school.  The boy's friends are waiting for him to emerge, and go to see what is holding him up.  Before he is discovered, Håkan pours concentrated hydrochloric acid onto his own face, disfiguring it to prevent the authorities from identifying him and tracing Eli.  Eli learns that Håkan has been taken to the hospital and scales the building to access his restricted room.  Håkan opens the window for Eli and offers his neck to her for feeding.  After she has fed, Håkan falls out of the window.  He lies on the snow supposedly breathing his last breaths.  Now alone, Eli goes to Oskar's apartment and spends the night with him, during which time they agree to "go steady".  While Eli states, "I'm not a girl", Oskar (ambiguously) either ignores this or accepts the homoerotic status of the relationship.

During an ice skating field trip at the lake, some of Oskar's fellow students discover Jocke's body, hidden by Håkan.  At the same time, Oskar finally stands up to his tormentors.  He strikes the leader of the bullies, Conny, on the side of the head with a pole, splitting his ear.  Some time later, Oskar shows Eli a private place he knows.  Unaware that Eli is a vampire, Oskar suggests that they form a blood bond, and cuts his hand, asking Eli to do the same.  Eli, thirsting for blood but not wanting to harm Oskar, laps up his spilt blood before running away.

Gösta tells his neighbors that he saw a kid attack Jocke.  They urge him to tell the police, but he does not.  In a drunken state, Lacke tells his friends that Jocke was his only friend.  His girlfriend, Virginia leaves but is attacked by Eli.  Lacke turns up in time to interrupt the attack.  Virginia survives, but she soon discovers that she has become painfully sensitive to sunlight.  Thirsting for blood, she pays a visit to Gösta, only to be fiercely attacked by his many cats.  In the hospital, Virginia, who has realized what she has become, asks an orderly to open the blinds in her room.  When the sunlight streams in, she bursts into flames.

On realizing her true nature, Oskar confronts Eli, who admits to being a vampire.  Their trust for each other grows and Eli appears in front of his apartment.  When Oskar questions the consequences of Eli entering without his expressed verbal invitation, Eli passes the threshold to his apartment and begins to profusely bleed until Oskar panics and cries out a verbal invitation.  After their embrace, Oskar is initially upset by Eli's need to kill people for survival.  However, Eli insists that their bloodthirsty natures are alike, in that Oskar wants to kill and Eli needs to kill, and she encourages Oskar to "be me, for a little while."  Afterwards, Eli changes out of bloody clothes and Oskar, deciding to sneak a peek, revealing a scar where Eli's genitalia should be (here at last Oskar runs ahead of the audience, he already knows because of the "be me, for a little while").  Eli quickly leaves his apartment through his window when his mother returns home.

Lacke, who has lost everything because of Eli, seeks out Håkan and Eli's apartment.  He is suspicious of the apartment with the makeshift covered-up windows.  Breaking in, he discovers Eli asleep in the bathtub.  Lacke holds a knife to Eli's neck while she is still sleeping.  Oskar, who was hiding inside the apartment, sees what Lacke is doing and takes out his own knife.  When Lacke finds it hard to see and lets sunlight into the room, Oskar shouts and Eli wakes up.  A startled Lacke turns and throws his knife away when he sees Oskar.  Eli immediately jumps on Lacke and kills him, feeding on his blood.  Eli thanks Oskar and kisses him in gratitude.  However, an upstairs neighbor is angrily knocking on the ceiling due to the disturbance the fight has caused.  Eli realizes that it is no longer safe to stay and leaves the same night.

The next morning, Oskar receives a phone call from Conny's friend, Martin, who lures Oskar out to resume the after-school fitness program at the local swimming pool.  The bullies, led by Conny and his sadistic older brother Jimmy, start a fire to draw Mr Ávila, the teacher in charge, outside.  While Ávila is distracted, they storm the pool-area and order the other children to clear out, which leaves Oskar trapped alone in the pool.  Jimmy forces Oskar under the water, threatening to stab his eye out if he does not hold his breath for three minutes.  While Oskar is underwater, however, a crash is heard from above the surface, followed by screaming.  Martin's feet are seen dangling just under the surface of the water as he is dragged over the pool, and then his severed head falls into the pool.  Next, Jimmy's torn-off right arm, which had held Oskar underwater, falls into the pool.  Eli then immediately pulls Oskar out of the water, and they both smile as they look into each other's eyes.  The decapitated bodies of Martin, Jimmy, and Conny lie around the pool, while Andreas, the reluctant fourth bully, sobs on a bench.

Later, Oskar is traveling on a train with Eli in a box beside him, safe from sunlight.  From inside, Eli taps the word "kiss" to Oskar in Morse code, to which he taps back "puss" (small kiss in Swedish).

Let Me In (2010)

  • Genre: Drama – Horror – Mystery
  • Directed: Matt Reeves
  • Produced:
    • Tobin Armbrust 
    • Alexander Yves Brunner 
    • Guy East 
    • Philip Elway 
    • Donna Gigliotti 
    • Jillian Longnecker 
    • Fredrik Malmberg 
    • Andy Mayson 
    • Carl Molinder 
    • John Nordling 
    • Simon Oakes 
    • John Ptak 
    • Vicki Dee Rock 
    • Marc Schipper 
    • Nigel Sinclair 
    • Robert Kessel
  • Written:
    • John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel & Screenplay) 
    • Matt Reeves (Adapted Screenplay)
  • Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barrese, Dylan Kenin, Chris Browning, Ritchie Coster, Dylan Minnette, Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak, Nicolai Dorian
  • Music: Michael Giacchino
  • Cinematography: Greig Fraser
  • Editing: Stan Salfas
  • Studio:
    • Overture Films  
    • Exclusive Media Group  
    • Hammer Film Productions  
    • EFTI
  • Distributed:
    • Alliance Films  
    • Icon Film Distribution  
    • Overture Films  
    • Relativity Media  
    • Exclusive Film Distribution  
    • Icon Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 1 October 2010 (USA)
  • Running Time: 116 minutes
  • Country:
    • United Kingdom 
    • USA
  • Language: English

Interest in producing an English version of Let the Right One In began in 2007 shortly before it was released to audiences.  In 2008, Hammer Films acquired the rights for the English adaptation and initially offered Tomas Alfredson, the director of the Swedish film, the opportunity to direct, which he declined.  Matt Reeves was then signed to direct and write the screenplay.  Reeves made several changes for the English version such as altering the setting from Stockholm to New Mexico and renaming the lead characters.  The film's producers stated that their intent was to keep the plot similar to the original, yet make it more accessible to a wider audience.  Principal photography began in early November 2009, and concluded in January 2010.  The film's budget was estimated to be $20 million.

Let Me In premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 13, 2010, and was opened wide in North America on October 1, 2010.  The film received highly positive reviews from critics, becoming one of the best critically reviewed films of 2010 and was placed on several critics' top-ten list.  Many critics noted it as a rare Hollywood remake which stayed true to the original film from which it was based, while others criticized it for being too derivative of the Swedish film.  The film earned $24 million in box office revenue worldwide, of which $12 million was earned in the United States and Canada.  Chloë Grace Moretz won several awards for her performance with critics praising the on-screen chemistry with her co-star, Kodi Smit-McPhee.  Let Me In was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on February 1, 2011, and in the UK on March 14, 2011.  An official comic book miniseries prequel titled Let Me In: Crossroads was released after the film which establishes the back-story of Abby and ends where the theatrical film begins.

In March 1983, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a disfigured man is taken to the hospital.  An unnamed police detective tries to question him about a recent murder for which he is a suspect.  The detective is told that the man's daughter was just downstairs.  While he is on the phone to reception, a scream is heard and the detective finds the nurse in shock.  He spots the man, who jumped out of the window, having left behind a scrawled note that reads "I'm sorry Abby."

Two weeks earlier, Owen, an unhappy and lonely 12-year-old boy who is neglected by his divorcing parents and continually harassed at school by bullies, sees a young girl named Abby and her father Thomas moving in next door and notices that she is barefoot despite the snow.  Owen and Abby become close friends and start communicating by Morse code through the walls of their apartments.  At school, the main bully Kenny, and two of his friends Donald and Mark constantly terrorize Owen, who lies to his mother about it but tells Abby the truth.

Thomas murders a man and collects the blood, but accidentally spills it.  Hungry, Abby attacks a concerned neighbor named Jack to drink his blood revealing that she is in fact a vampire.  On another night, her father hides in the back of a teenager's car, murders the passenger, and tries to flee, but crashes the car and becomes trapped inside.  He pours concentrated sulfuric acid on his face, disfiguring himself to prevent his identification.  He is taken to the hospital, bringing the story back up to March 1983.

Abby learns what happened and climbs up the hospital building to see Thomas.  She knocks on the window and he points to his throat, unable to speak, and leans out of the window; Abby drinks his blood.  Thomas passes out and falls to his death.

That night, Owen is awakened by Abby, who insists he verbally invite her in.  She spends the night in his bed and agrees to be his girlfriend.  Later, Owen cuts his finger, hoping to make a blood pact with her.  Unable to control herself, Abby laps up a drop of Owen's blood, revealing her vampire form.  Not wanting to hurt Owen, she flees and instead attacks another woman named Virginia.  Virginia's boyfriend, Larry witnesses the attack.  Abby later admits to Owen that she is a vampire and that the man with her was not really her father.  Owen discovers an aged photo of her with a young boy, revealing that Thomas had met her when they were about the same age.  As he continued to age, he posed as her father while she, because of the vampire curse, did not physically age past twelve.

One night, Owen sneaks out to spend the night at Abby's.  The next morning, the detective forces his way into Abby's apartment and finds her asleep.  Abby awakes upon the detective letting the sun in and murders him to drain and feed on his blood.  Owen watches but doesn't intervene.  Abby tells Owen she will have to leave town and he watches tearfully as she enters a taxi and leaves.

During Owen's swim class, Kenny, his sadistic older brother, Jimmy, and their friends ambush Owen to get their revenge and throw him into the pool.  Owen is told that he will only be cut on the cheek if he can hold his breath underwater for three minutes - But if he cannot do so, one of his eyes will be poked out.  Kenny and his friends realize the weight of the situation and try telling Jimmy to stop but he angrily refuses.  Just then, a winged figure comes toward them.  As Owen is suffocating underwater, he hears the sounds of the struggle above.  Jimmy's severed head and dismembered limbs of the bullies fall into the water.  Owen emerges from the surface, looks up and faintly smiles, revealing that the winged attacker is Abby.

Owen is next seen on a train leaving town in broad daylight, traveling with a large trunk.  A message is tapped out inside the trunk in Morse code.  Owen taps out a response in Morse code.  He then looks out the window and quietly sings to himself "Eat some now, save some for later."



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