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Original Vs. Remake: Let The Right One In

01.14.2015by: Mike Catalano
We had lots of nice conversations about the outcome of our last Original Vs. Remake which had the original I Spit On Your Grave narrowly edging out the very well-done remake. Many a reader agreed that justice was done to the original with 2010's redo. The opinions were basically as tight as the battle itself.

Today, we have another battle on snow-covered ground between a pair of films that fall under the category in my mind deemed "Oscar Horror". As you probably can guess, I use this term to describe films in our genre so well made and powerful that they do indeed deserve to be considered by the Academy. The movies I'm speaking of today are Let The Right One In and it's 2010 remake Let Me In. Both flicks are exquisite and have major bite. This should be quite the battle.

Story
Oskar, a meek young boy, forms a friendship with young Eli after she moves into his apartment complex. After falling for her, Oskar quickly learns that she is a vampire hiding secretly in plain sight with an old man who is her watcher. Eli gives Oskar the strength to stand up for himself, but once her secret gets out, can he remain strong enough to keep her safe?
Although the story stays very close to the brilliance of the original, I have to say that it succeeded in tightening things up. There's this odd subplot in the original involving Oscar's father that I feel only detracts from the central story and keeps it from steaming fully forward. A few of the action pieces are also endowed with some extra story-telling oomph.
Acting
It's always tough when working with kids in movies to get them to deliver the right kind of performance. But when it works, it can mean the difference between mediocre and magic. The two young stars of Let The Right One In are the reason why this movie is so great. Their work is so believable it's scary. Yes, all the other actors are top notch as well, but it's "Oskar" and "Eli"'s show!
You know that the filmmakers were looking to do a respectful remake from the type of acting talent they brought on board. Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-Mcphee are both impressive performers. They make the original's roles their own and are just fantastic. Throw in a couple of excellent supporting performances from the great Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas, and you score another believably told story.
Special Effects
The original does not revel in blood or shy away from it. I mean, it's a vampire movie, so you've gotta have the red stuff on hand. And thankfully, it is all practical and powerful. From a woman burning up from the sun's rays to an acid-burned face to a severed limb floating down in a pool, all the gore on hand looks realistic and feels haunting.
There is a mix of practical and CGI effects in the remake, but through the power of the performances, everything still resonates realistically enough. The one aspect that really sets it apart from the original is a brilliantly choreographed car crash filmed from inside the car to make it look like it the crash happens in a single, careening take!
Intensity
Oh, the original is loaded with organic thrills that are the type of tense that could stop your heart. No cheap scares here. And since the film deals mainly with children, every instance of terror becomes heightened even more so! If the scenes where Eli's secret gets revealed or the standoff finale at the pool don't have your ass permanently livin' on the edge, then mister, you're a better man than I.
You can tell literally from the second the remake starts that intensity is at the top of its to-do list. A frantic paramedic is calling in his current injured patient as an ambulance speeds through the snowy night. Trust me, it gets your heart pumpin'. Moretz's vamp attacks are harsh and frightening. And that bit with the car crashing is the ultimate jolt.
Hot Chicks
This film isn't about hot chicks. It's a dark adolescent romance and there is nothing hubba-hubba-sexy about it. The other adult women in the movie are just alright-looking. So, your hottie thoughts can kindly disperse; nothing to see here.
Hot Chicks just aren't in the equation for the remake either because it is an honorable retelling. However, adults Sasha Barrese and Cara Buono are both easy enough on the eyes to keep this category from being another tie.
Directing
Tomas Alfredson is absolutely gifted as both a genre director (he elicits organic scares and tension with ease) and all-around director (he crafts a beautifully shot and told story with real emotion). This film is an incredible experience across the board from the performances to the haunting visuals. It is an Oscar-worthy film and the majority of that credit comes from its director.
I think by now we are all well aware of the high caliber director that Matt Reeves has become, especially for our beloved genre. Let Me In is no exception. Like many thought, remaking the brilliance of Let The Right One In could not be an easy endeavor. Yet somehow, Reeves pulled off an amazingly respectful retelling for American audiences that was as good, if not better than, the original.
Let Me In (2010)
Well, that battle was the true meaning of neck-and-neck. Basically, both flicks are fantastic and a really non-existent category is what helped declare the winner. HOWEVER, if I had to pick one to watch again out of the two, I would go with Let Me In. Not sure if it's because it's in English or there's no detractingly weird father subplot. Really need to hear how you all feel about this one, so don't be shy about firing them bullets below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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+0
7:22PM on 01/15/2015

Agree

I like the original but it move just alil to slow for me, nice on keeping it tight thou.
I like the original but it move just alil to slow for me, nice on keeping it tight thou.
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1:24PM on 01/15/2015
I thought the original was way better, maybe I need to re-watch them but I felt like the connection between the two kids was done way better than the English remake
I thought the original was way better, maybe I need to re-watch them but I felt like the connection between the two kids was done way better than the English remake
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11:27AM on 01/14/2015

Disagree

While I enjoyed the remake and thought they put real effort into it, the horrible CGI of Chloe's attacks took me right out of the film. Even the ending doesn't have the same gut punch that the original had. While the remake is good it is in no way better than the superior foreign language version.
While I enjoyed the remake and thought they put real effort into it, the horrible CGI of Chloe's attacks took me right out of the film. Even the ending doesn't have the same gut punch that the original had. While the remake is good it is in no way better than the superior foreign language version.
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11:34AM on 01/14/2015
Yup, forgot about the bad CGI of Chloe's attacks--original's girl's was far creepier--but I stand by my comment on the improved immolation scene.
Yup, forgot about the bad CGI of Chloe's attacks--original's girl's was far creepier--but I stand by my comment on the improved immolation scene.
+1
10:42AM on 01/14/2015

Disagree totally ... but with respect

With regards to these two fine films I'm going to go with the original. It should get points for "story" considering the remake is just copying a truly original script. And the minor differences in the timeline in Reeves' version actual detracts from the emotional impact for me. I'll take the directing from the original as well-a prime example of its superiority is the climactic pool scene. Masterfully shot and scored in the tense original, very commonplace (though still somewhat effective) in
With regards to these two fine films I'm going to go with the original. It should get points for "story" considering the remake is just copying a truly original script. And the minor differences in the timeline in Reeves' version actual detracts from the emotional impact for me. I'll take the directing from the original as well-a prime example of its superiority is the climactic pool scene. Masterfully shot and scored in the tense original, very commonplace (though still somewhat effective) in the remake. I will give the remake points for better FX though--the bed immolation scene is wonderful in the remake whereas the FX was slightly distracting in the first movie. Two very fine films though.
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