Let the Right One In vs. Let Me In

First off, I’d like to clarify that the recent vampire movie hit Let Me In is not a remake of Tomas Alfredson’s terrific Swedish thriller Let the Right One In. They are both adaptations of the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Welcome to my latest review. Today I’m going to be comparing the two vampire movies in this post’s title. They are both excellent films, but for me it was easy to pick a winner.

A few months ago I caught Let the Right One In on DVD and watched it, eager to see what all the fuss was about. The film was brilliant in its portrayal of childhood strain and imaginative adventure brutally colliding with real life. The American version, Let Me In, is the same thing, but when comparing it with LTROI, it looks so glaringly… American. I’m a huge fan of Swedish cinema, and I love the way Swedish directors like Alfredson view things and shoot things. It’s so different from America; it’s more fresh, and original. Whereas the American version has all the American stereotypes: the typical bullied kid and the vampire. Sure, they’re original enough and LTROI handles their characters well enough, but LMI has characters that seem slightly less easy to accept. Chloë Grace Moretz, as the vampire “Abby” (to LTROI’s Eli) gives a showstealing performance and manages to capture the strange and uneasy feel her character presents, and manages to be perhaps an even more detached and lonesome soul than Eli in LTROI. For that, points are awarded. Kodi Smit-McPhee is decent in his role as the awkward Owen (to LTROI’s Oskar), but I felt less sympathy for him and more pity, whereas with Oskar in LTROI, he seemed more… real, and original. Although points must too be awarded to Smit-McPhee as his character certainly seems more lonely and helpless than Oskar, but this is a poor substitute for Oskar’s originality.

But the real reason I prefer Let the Right One In is the way it handles one of the most important scenes in both films. This is the pool scene, which, in LTROI, is one of my top five favourite scenes from any film ever. The way Alfredson films it is just magical. He makes it deeply disturbing, and gives the viewer a similar viewpoint to the underwater Oskar, allowing the viewer only to hear the madness and leave it to their imagination to figure out what’s happening and how above the water. Let Me In keeps the camera underwater, too, but other than that the scene is shot quite differently. The pool room is dark, which makes any visible underwater action much more difficult, and the awesome shot at the very end of the scene which surveys the entire mess of the whole room is noticeably missing.

I might sound grumpy and nitpicky to some, but I’d like to reassure everyone that I’m not putting Matt Reeve’s film down at all. I liked his movie, but it was too different and not as fresh as Alfredson’s, and had an ‘American’ feel which I felt quite unneccessary. We are constantly reminded this is in 80s America, such in scenes of television monitors of presidential speeches, a classroom chanting an American anthem, and other American things.

In Sweden it felt more appropriate and realistic, and the essence of true childhood was captured beautifully. Let Me In did a great job, I’m not denying it that, but the plain and simple truth is that Let the Right One In did better.

Let the Right One In: 8/10

Let Me In: 7/10

Now it’s time for…

Leave a comment with what you thought of both movies, and let me know whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve written. All opinions (within reason) are welcome.

Thanks for reading.


About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on May 22, 2011, in Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. The Swedish film has been available on Netflix streaming for quite some time, but once again, I haven’t had the time to watch it. I keep hearing so many good things about it. Thanks for the comparison!

    And speaking of Swedish vs USA versions of the same book… I’m curious to see what they do with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I really like Daniel Craig (have you seen Layer Cake? AWESOME film!), so I’m hoping for the best.


    • Even if you don’t watch the whole movie, you have to see the pool scene.

      Yes, I’ll admit, my curiosity is roused by the upcoming Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo remake. It’ll be pretty impossible for it to beat the original, but with David Fincher behind the wheel it has a chance. Daniel Craig was awesome in Layer Cake, so hopefully he’ll do the role justice.

  2. What a cool post!

    I agree, the pool scene in Let Me In is a pale shadow of the one in Let the Right One In. I hated how it was so dark in the pool and you couldn’t really grasp it like you could with the original. The original one is absolutely brilliant.

    I guess Let Me In was Americanized greatly, but at least they didn’t turn to choppy editing and try to make the story go faster. I was actually surprised by how well they did with it.

    In the end, I’d rate Let the Right One In 10/10, since it’s in my Top 10 favourite movies of all time, and I’d give Let Me In a 9/10.

    • Yeah, I suppose I agree. Let Me In could’ve ended up a lot worse if it fell into the wrong hands. They certainly did the best they could, and for that I’ll give ’em credit.

  3. I adored Let The Right One In, and felt a little unhappy when I saw the previews for Let Me In. They were pushing the second rendition as a straight up horror movie, and I never felt LTROI was horror. It is almost a coming of age film…if one was coming of age as a predatorial vampire. I held off from seeing LMI in the theatre, so I am waiting for it to arrive on the movie networks here. I am looking forward to it though, as I appreciated Chloe’s work in Kick Ass.

  4. i liked LMI better than LTROI. i felt some things in the american version lended itself to a better story. the fact that Eli was a former boy kinda overshadowed rhe movie and the book and distracted from the main story. also,LMI showed Abby’s attack in the deld scenes which i thought should’ve been kept on

  5. I liked Let Me In quite a lot more than the Swedish version. The children were much more realistic in the American version. In the first film, Oskar seems almost learning disabled (especially in his bizarre reaction to the bully playing water-aerobics music to him in the pool). The kids in the American version are simply much better, more naturalistic actors.

    Also, the streamlining of the storyline of the female victim who survives the attack is much more dramatically economical – and it avoids the inherently unfilmable and unavoidably comical cat attack. Sorry, but that scene in the original was a really glaring misstep. It reminded me of the equally-unconvincing hyena attack in the Exorcist prequel.

    Good post, though, and we can agree to disagree!

    • You make some fair points, and I think it might be best that we agree to disagree. I think the foreign film has a bit more charm and flair than the remake; and I preferred the special effects in the original. Plus I think the pool scene was edited and directed much better in the first film.

      I will concede that I didn’t like the cat attack scene either.

  6. I’m afraid I have to chime in with Tyler and say that we’ll have to agree to disagree as well. Pretty much every reviewer out there has bashed the American remake and stated that the Swedish version was superior. After having seen “Let Me In”, I sat down to watch “Let the Right One In” and found myself extremely underwhelmed.

    While the original is a good movie, it’s shot in a very straightforward, paint-by-numbers fashion, almost like a television show. I found a lot of the Swedish supporting cast – specifically the members of the drinking crowd at the apartment complex – to be rather annoying characters. Then there was how a lot of scenes that were supposed to be serious – such as the dog interrupting Håkan’s first kill, the sound his head made after it slammed against the hospital entrance’s metal roof after he fell to his death, and the godawful CGI cat scene – actually had me laughing, thereby undermining the somber tone of the movie. And while Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant are hardly slouches in the acting department, the way they delivered their lines didn’t feel as natural and nuanced as Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s performances.

    The remake never once broke the tone by being unintentionally humorous. Yes, some of the CGI of Abby in full vampire mode looked strange and “fake”, but I think they were intentionally going for unnatural motions since she’s an unnatural creature.

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