The cover of the DVD quotes Stephen King as saying this is “the best American horror film in the last 20 years.” Too bad it’s really an American remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In. If you haven’t seen the original and don’t like movies with subtitles, don’t worry. The American remake will suffice for you. It’s the eerily slow tempo and oddities of both films that really make you shiver. It’s the story of a lonely young boy, the victim of bullies at his school, who befriends a young female vampire who moves in next door in his apartment complex. They both give each other a bit of confidence, despite the consequences a friendship between them could cause.
The differences between the two films are probably numerous to some who have obsessed over them, but as far as the storyline goes, they are pretty much the same. Obviously, there’s a bit of emotion lost from having to read the subtitles which non-Swedish speaking Americans will get to enjoy in this film. But it’s not all about the dialogue. There are long bouts of scary silence in both films where you don’t always want to know what’s happening (but you do), and you don’t need someone talking to tell you. The two lonely friends sitting outside in the snow on a jungle gym beneath the yellow security light plays on our emotions just as much as seeing Owen, the young boy, get picked on by his bullies.
Since I’ve seen both films, I’m going to tell you what I liked better about the Americanized version. First, I didn’t mind the lack of Owen’s father in the movie. His scenes are brief in the original, but not really needed for anything other than to establish his parents are separated but Owen still has a relationship with both. The lack of a father figure in his life is not really the reason Owen is such a weak character that always gets picked on at school. Again, dialogue quickly establishes that his parents are getting divorced. There’s only a phone call to his father in the remake, where he reaches out to him to ask if there is such a thing as evil.
I also thought Abby’s caregiver played much more of a part in this film and we really got to see his conflict play out. There are differences in his “killing” scenes in both films, but the reason behind them is the same. In the remake, however, we see that the victims live in the same apartment complex and Owen knows who they are by watching them through a telescope in his bedroom window.
All in all, it’s not a bad remake. Like I said, if you haven’t seen the Swedish version, you won’t be missing anything. The dynamic and sadness of both films is definitely there, even the bizarre ending which you’d never expect. The one thing that I didn’t like about the remake though was Owen asking Abby if she was a vampire. I also didn’t like the scenes where we got to see her face after she had fed and her appearance and eyes had become more monster-like. NOT seeing this sort of teases your mind and increases the intensity, and while Abby doesn’t answer Owen’s question, there was no need to establish what she was. What’s more important is that Owen doesn’t care about that. He only cares about her friendship.
Definitely worth a watch if you have not (or even have) seen the original, or if you enjoy a “good” vampire flick. I agree with King that it’s one of the best horror films lately. Too bad it’s not really ours.