Thoughts on the LET THE RIGHT ONE IN Remake

You go on vacation and it is a relatively slow movie and news week, but my interest perked up upon glancing at the two released stills from Matt “Cloverfield” Reeves’ english language remake of Let The Right One in. First off, if you average out the Row Three contributors’ picks on 2008 films, Låt den rätte komma in was probably the most loved, so most people writing for the site have some sort of emotional stake in seeing it redone for a North American Audience. You know the part where they polish off the rough edges, take out the emotional depth and thematic resonance, and make it a thrill ride (for any or all of the above, see: The Vanishing, Bangkok Dangerous, Nine Queens, [REC], La Femme Nikita, etc. etc.)

But, oddly enough, I am rather interested in such an immediate do-over in spite of the high water mark set by the Swedish version of the film. There is the casting of the two leads, Chloe Moretz who kicked ass in, well, you know, and Kodi Smit-McPhee who give stellar performances in two dark films, The Road and Romulus My Father. Also, the producers are being rather clever in using the title of the first edition translation of the Novel, Let Me In, which at least tells me they took the time to do a bit of looking into how the book and film have been processed over here, and are not slapping it with the same title (causing some confusion due to the proximity of the releases) or giving it some focus-group moniker. Furthermore, I thought Cloverfield was a fairly solid both in the writing department and the directing department, and Reeves is doing both the remake (albeit Reeves did not write Cloverfield). Lastly, the novel has a number of twists and turns that were polished out of the original movie. The author of the novel, John Ajvide Lindqvist, wrote the screenplay and I’m sure he knows his own material, but having an outsiders interpretation, particularly at some of the more graphic elements in the novel, if the producers are willing to go there, would be enough to get me in the cinema.

Really, there is bound to be some disappointment with the remake, due to how familiar I am with the source material and the original movie, but at this point I am not flat out against an English Language production. After all, there have been some good remakes done out there, Gore Verbinski’s The Ring has that knock-out addition with the horse on the ferry, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was entertaining and added a gritty Boston atmosphere to the story, and lest we forget that both The Thing, The Fly and Invasion of the Body Snatchers all got it right on the second whirl around.

Kurt Halfyard
Resident culture snob.

32 Comments

  1. Yes, I'm interesting in seeing how much they will use from the book that was not included in the original film. I'm pretty sure they took out the more supernatural elements of the book to keep it more grounded in reality and minimalistic but that's something that the US audience would be more willing to see. But it's also questionable that the US production will tackle the adolescent love the whole pedophile angle and the book's ending which is so wrong on so many levels but incredibly creepy.

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  2. I'm with you on this one. Not sure if they'll equal or improve on the existing but I am looking forward to seeing it. Of course, I was looking forward to Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th too :P

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  3. Yeah I just don't know what to feel about this thing. On the one hand, no, I do not automatically think remake=suck, and not even American remake of foreign film = suck. (Nice that you mention the horse scene in The Ring though, the only good thing about that piece of garbage remake.)

    On the other hand, I firmly believe that when something has been done perfectly, you leave it alone.

    Let the Right One In is perfect. Everyone involved in Let Me In has talents that I am appreciative of, but if the best they can hope for is "as good as" something that already exists, why bother?

    If they get into the pedophilia angle with Richard Jenkins, well good for them, they did something from the novel that the original film didn't do. But I mean COME ON – these are Americans here. They fear that idea like my mama fears a grandchild-less future. And even if they do introduce that angle to the story… to what end? I wouldn't actually argue it adds something.

    Also – I mean seriously – what American studio EVER is going to have the guts to put a castration scar on Chloe Moretz?? Like, EVER?

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  4. People should only remake movies that suck, but had interesting premise. All remakes of good movies end up constantly falling short: from Insomnia to The Departed.

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  5. Besides her action sequences, I thought that the girl that plays Hit-Girl has limited acting abilities. Every time she was in a non-action conversation with Nicolas Cage, it very hard to watch. Hopefully, she proves me wrong.

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  6. Interesting. Just watched the original Insomnia for the first time over the weekend. That movie is pretty great from an artistic standpoint. The story is still just sort of whatever, but visually speaking it's completely awesome. Makes me wanna punch Williams/Pacino/Nolan in the shin.

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  7. I thought INSOMNIA the remake was really, really good, but yea, not nearly as raw as the original. Pacino was simply not as dark as Skarsgaard, but Robin Williams was pretty excellent in that movie, and it looked wonderful. As andrew said in another thread, the cinematography in Christopher Nolan's films is consistently AMAZING. It's big and realistic and yet still feels like fantasy. In a word: Awesome.

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  8. You remember wrong. Or you just don't like films by Christopher Nolan all that much. How many times did we have that Prestige vs. The Illusionist debate? ;)

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    • Not having that discussion again. But it mostly comes down to acting and which one came first for me.
      Norton/Giamatti/Sewell/Biel or Jackman/Bale/Johansson (ugh, ugh and ugh).

      No contest (though Caine and aforementioned Bowie are great).

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  9. Robin Williams was also in another great remake, The Birdcage. I think theres nothing not be be happy with at the moment with Let Me In, Kodi looks goth already, Chloe does great young acting in Kick-Ass, makes you wonder why anyone would take to Mrs Ronan, shes the 22yr old version of Keira Knightley, acts with a apple-core in mouth.

    And Richard Jenkins.

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  10. I like The Illusionist, but I rewatched The Prestige some time ago, and ended up watching it a couple of times over a few days, it was much better than I remembered.

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  11. I want to see more movies with Skarsgaard: his stage presences is unreal. On the Insomnia remake–it is good–but not as good as the original. The biggest problem of the remake is the Hollywood ending.

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  12. The thing that I like about the original Insomnia and the original The Vanishing is the way they completely break away from the thriller genre. In both films, it is not about the mystery or solving of crime; instead, it focuses more on the protagonist's suffering and ability to cope with a traumatic, unpleasant situation. Both films also feel to be a more art house version Michael Mann's constant play between the criminals and "the good guys."

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    • Which gets back to the original point. Remakes aren't always bad. Even if they are good, it usually comes down to, what's the point? The Departed, Funny Games (especially), Psycho, Let Me In, etc.

      Sure it might be a good movie. But it already was a good movie. So congratulations on nothing.

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  13. On your point Andrew, the only way it get work is if the remake follows different part of the original source material. For example, the propose Old Boy remake( oh god, Will fucking Smith and Spielberg) could be good– in the different way from the original– if it follows more closely the manga. Other than that, I rather see remakes of awful movies that had an interesting premise.

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  14. Andrew, that is simply not true. Cronenberg's THE FLY kicks the tar out of the campy original. Cecil B. Demille made THE 10 COMMANDMENTS twice, and got it right the second time. Ditto on Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much done better in 1956 than in 1934. More people re-watch John Carpenter's THE THING over Howard Hawks' THE THING FROM OUTER SPACE. Soderbergh's OCEANS 11 is better than the Rat Pack Version (by all accounts) and I am thinking that more people watch the Bogart/Huston version of THE MALTESE FALCON than the Ricardo Cortez / Roy Del Ruth version.

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  15. Call me crazy, but I dig on Frank Oz's musical version of Little Shop of Horrors over the Roger Corman campy original.

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  16. Speaking of Frank Oz, I also like his version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine over the Marlon Brando/David Niven "Bedtime Story".

    Funny thing about that film is that there is potentially another version on the way in 2012.

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  17. "Funny Games (especially)"

    The point of Funny Games US was to give the movie a chance to be seen by the people who need to see it.

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  18. I understand where you are coming form, but the fact that near-instant remakes of foreign language films exist at all is due to Hollywood understanding that people generally do not bother with subtitled films.

    Despite the relatively high profile cast of the Funny Games remake and solid reviews, I don't think too many people saw it in America anyway.

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  19. Of course they didn't, but the intent is pretty clear I think, and more than enough to justify the remake.

    And yeah, people complain about films being dubbed in some countries, but the americans have totally skipped showing any movies from other countries except in "selected cities", and just making their own versions of them for the mass audience.

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    • Kurt, I haven't seen any of the films you used in your example. But I also think you're basically proving my point. The ones you mentioned were simply mediocre films (or your words, "campy") that were remade into something good – which is something I am all for! Taking Infernal Affairs (which is pretty awesome) or Let the Right One In and remaking them and then patting yourself on the back because you made a good movie is simply disingenuous – and personally speaking, annoying.

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  20. The Wizard of Oz was a critically acclaimed film before it got remade 4 times and Judy Garland finally appeared in it. And The Maltese Falcon was critically acclaimed before it was remade, as was say Scarface.

    There are a ton of remakes of good/great films where the remakes are just as iconic as the originals. How many times has Frankenstein been remade? Cyrano De Bergerac? Or John Carpenter remade Assault on Precinct 13? Jesus, Disney has made a cottage industry out of it.

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    • No dipshit, Star Wars was inspired. Not a remake.

      And I haven't seen any of those original movies you mention. I never knew Oz was a remake. I didn't know Carpenter's Assault was a remake either.

      Also, personally, I differentiate between a remake, and just someone else adapting a book or story. In other words, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is not a remake, it's another retelling of an original story. Which is what Disney mostly does. I don't think they actually remake stuff do they?

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  21. Andrew, the problem with the "it's another adaptation of a book" argument is that Let Me In falls in that category, too. So you can't use that argument and rail against Let Me In without making some distinctions. I'm still working through this in my head, too, but there's some point at which a film becomes more iconic than the book it's based on and any future adaptations of the book can't escape that. The Wizard of Oz hit that with the Judy Garland version; I believe all subsequent versions have either been based on different books in the series (Return to Oz) or had a radically different take on it (The Wiz). Robert Bloch's Psycho hit it with Hitchcock's film. At this point, you can't make another version of Psycho from the book without Hitchcock's looming large over the project; Gus Van Sant knew that and took it to extremes. But if you want to make another version of Pride and Prejudice, go ahead. Despite several good adaptations, that story still exists most memorably as a book.

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  22. No dipshit, Star Wars was inspired. Not a remake.

    Star Wars is without a doubt a remake of Hidden Fortress. It uses the same plot, the same characters, the same editing wipes and I could go on. All Lucas did was set it in space and throw in a walking carpet.

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