Letting in a Vampire

I'm taking a free online course about Scandinavian cinema. I love movies, but I don't know much about cinema from that part of the world. I know Ingmar Bergman, Lasse Hallstrom and Lars Von Trier - but that's because they get shown in America.

A new one for me is Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in) from 2008. Directed by Tomas Alfredson’s and based on John Ajvide Linqvist’s novel of the same name, it was the first serious Swedish vampire film.

My wife was the vampire fan (Anne Rice novels and all that) not me, but I really liked this film. (My wife did not. She thought it was too gory.)

It is the odd genre of horror-romance (if such a genre exists). It is set in a a suburb of Stockholm. A lonely and slight Oskar meets another 12-year-old girl named Eli. She turns out to be a vampire. The setting is cold. Ali is cold to the touch, but becomes Oskar's friend and protector from the bullies at his school.

It is also a tale of adolescence angst and isolation. The filmmaker is not much concerned with all the trappings of vampire conventions that are apparently part of the novel. Eli does only come out at night, can be killed by sunlight, needs fresh blood, and has super-strength so that she can leap like flying and kill adults.

I also watched the American remake which is very, very close cinematically to the original with some variations on the story (perhaps from the novel). The remake is titled Let Me In. It was released in is a 2010 and is an American-British production. It was written and directed by Matt Reeves and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Elias Koteas, and Richard Jenkins. The setting is a snowy Los Alamos, New Mexico in the early 1980s.

The remake is probably more graphic than the original but not as much as many modern horror films.  The frail boy (Owen in this version) connects with Abby and will become her companion now that Thomas (who seemed like father but was not) is dead. She will protect him. He will grow older. She will not.

Why let me in or let the right one in? The idea seems to be that a vampire can't enter a home without permission from the owner. That's not vampire tradition, but times change even if vampires don't change.

Matt Reeves is known for a number of films including Cloverfield, Point Break and two of the new Planet of the Apes films. The film generally got good reviews, though some critics felt it was so similar to the original that it didn't get need to be made. I saw the same kinds of reviews for the American remake of the Steig Larson trilogy about the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There's room in the world for both versions, but do watch the Swedish originals.

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