Tag Archives: movies

What Are We Letting In?

8 Sep

I, like many self-admitted loserpantsed people, love vampire genre things.  Books, TV, movies… if it has fangs, I’m in.  That doesn’t mean I’ll like it, mind you, just that I’ll check it out.  For example, I’ve read all of the Twlight books, a fact that is a little bit to my chagrin.  They crack me up in their badness, but that’s another story for another day. 

Right now, I want to discuss my fears about the American remake of the excellent Swedish film, Let the Right One InI’m going to try to keep this spoiler-free, but knowing the plot and characters will certainly help you in reading this.  Moving on.  Let the Right One In is a gorgeous film, deeply entrenched with a visual mood that colors the feel of the movie from start to finish.  Moreover, it is full of subtlety, especially in the relationship between the two main characters.  It is quiet in its horror rather than explosive.  It is more about the nature of caring, love and commitment than it is about fear, though that certainly is an element that is addressed.  There is no flash, no extraneous gore, no moments that make you pee your pants a little.  Just good story telling and good film making. 

In a lot of ways, Let the Right One In isn’t a genre story in the way that many vampire tales, especially of late, have been.  Eli dislikes her vampirism, but not in the fake extensial quandry kind of way seen in Twilight or The Vampire Diaries.  Vampires are certainly not a normal part of every day life like in the worlds of Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse.  The love story is not about sex or forbidden desire, but rather about lonliness and very human needs.  Moreover, the love story is gender-reversed from the majority of vampire tales.  The vamp is a girl, though there is ambiguity surrounding her gender identity.  It is a very clear signal that the normal vampire codes of seduction and lust do not apply here. 

Clearly, I really, really, really like this film.  It’s original and moving and is already being hailed as a classic.  Of course, this means there has to be an American remake.  Joy.  Let Me In is set for wide-release in just a few short weeks on October 1st.  I’m going to see it, but I’m pretty skeptical (a fact that is probably already obvious from the tone of this post.)  Ok, I haven’t seen it, but I have seen plenty of remakes.  Most of those fit in the “When Remakes Go Bad” category.  I’m concerned. 

I’ve seen the trailer, people.  You can see it too.  Let’s compare and contrast trailers from the original and the remake, shall we?

First up, the original:

Now, the remake:

What do we see?  Well, I can’t really tell you what to see, but here’s what I get.  The original trailer is not about the horror.  It focuses on Eli and Oskar; their relationship is paramount to understanding this movie.  Yes, there are quick cuts and some moments that look vaugely scary, but that isn’t the thrust of the trailer (or the movie). 

The remake, though, plays instantly on very American fears.  A boy is dead, it’s an ordinary town, these people are just like you and your bullied kid could wind up loving a vicious killer vampire girl.  There’s a cop added to the mix, too.  He wants us to know that this has happened before, because we can’t figure that out on our own.  Maybe that’s a little harsh, but I just can’t help but feel like it has been “horrorized” and dumbed-down for the American audience.  Ambuiguity and subtlety are left by the wayside.  More proof?  Early accounts say that any gender confusion was taken out of the American remake.  Can’t have possible latent homosocial or homosexual undertones in our horror movies, can we?

Ultimately, that’s the problem that I’m getting at through all of this.  Let the Right One In isn’t really a horror, thriller or genre film.  From the looks of it, Let Me In is more horror than story, more genre than drama.  I’m worried that what I love will be lost in the desire to capitalize on the popularity of vampires and horror.  In the end, I’ll see it and try to look at it with an open mind, but I don’t know if I’m ready to let in a poor substitute at all.