Friday, February 13, 2015

My Essay on Let the Right One In and Let Me In

Be Me A Little
            John Ajvide Lindqvist's debut novel, Låt Den Rätte Komma In, was released in 2004 in Sweden, with an English translation arriving in 2007. 2008 saw the premiere of Tomas Alfredson's Swedish film which will henceforth be known as Let the Right One In or LTROI, and the American adaptation Let Me In or LMI debuted in 2010, directed by Matt Reeves. While LMI pays homage aesthetically to LTROI, it is not a remake and is instead a separate - if similar - retelling of the novel. Reeves's version goes so far as to adapt to the changed setting and rename the leads the Americanized Owen and Abby, rather than Oskar and Eli. Though the films have a common runtime of one hour and fifty-five minutes, each makes its own alterations to the world set down in Lindqvist's story, while winnowing away multiple subplots that the Swedish picture does touch upon without further exploration.
            Major variances between the adaptations are apparent in the introductory scenes. Alfredson opens his movie with credits amongst falling snow, followed by main character Oskar imagining taking revenge on his tormentors, and the novel's first occurrence of Oskar's class being taught by a police officer appears five minutes into the proceedings, albeit about a different subject. Reeves begins his film with a scene from the middle of the consequent action, now set in New Mexico, with a character known only as The Policeman inspecting the circumstances behind a man burning his own face with acid. As the officer arrives at the hospital, the burned man later revealed as the vampire's familiar throws himself from his window.
            This is where the biggest deviation from the novel occurs, as neither movie deals with the character after his apparent demise. Lindqvist's iteration reanimates due to his vampiric bite, yet is only a zombified husk, incapable of coherent thought, roaming the nearby neighborhoods in the nude. This dovetails with the earlier police officer lesson and an entire other subplot about Oskar's neighbor and friend Tommy, whose only nod in the movies comes in the form of him having shown Oskar/Owen where the basement rec room is.
            The characterization of the burned man is unique to each version. In the novel and presumably in the first movie, Eli's assistant is a man called Håkan, a pedophile recruited as familiar in exchange for the promise of touches. Let Me In takes a hugely different approach to the character, now known only as The Father. Owen discovers pictures in Abby's apartment taken of her and her helper when he was a child, identifiable by a facial birthmark. This leaves the audience to wonder if Owen will suffer the same fate, growing old and worn down beside Abby out of a fierce dedication formed in his youth.