When I first heard that Hollywood was tackling the Swedish hit Let the Right One In, or Låt den rätte komma in if you’re actually Swedish (or a snob who can do accents) I was torn between excitement and dread. As much as I like foreign cinema every now and then, I’m no art-house purist: my excitement came solely from a wish to see glossy, high production values given to one of the most original and engaging horror films of the past decade. My dread came from the headlined word- ‘Remake’.
For me, ‘Remake’ (or the infinitely worse ‘Reimagining’ for that matter) conjures images of half decent films being stripped bare, watered down or completely miss-sold to an audience. Now, you could accuse me of a prejudice here and point to examples of acceptable remakes, but I’d wager that if you thought about the number of remakes that left you distinctly cold, the bad would outweigh the good. With many remakes, it’s not just that the films are bad compared to their original versions- they’re bad compared with all cinema ever. I’m talking with particular reference to the state of horror cinema: the spate of god-awful J-Horror rehashes that were everywhere in the mid to late 2000’s (Pulse and One Missed Call particularly still hurt), the apparent need to remake every single slasher film ever made and the modernization of some more sacred horror classics- the 2006 version of The Omen seemed to exist entirely to utilise the release date (06/06/06), and Nicolas Cage’s Wicker Man which, whilst a guilty pleasure of mine, is by no means a good film.
What I’m trying to say is that whilst I want to want remakes- I’ve been burned so much in the past by those that looked so promising but ultimately exist just to take your money, that I just can’t be without reservations.
Occasionally though, a remake will come along that challenges my preconceptions. Let Me In, is one of those films that draws you back in and gives you hope that maybe, just maybe, a remake doesn’t HAVE to be terrible. I think a driving force behind remakes that work is a deep appreciation for, and understanding of, the source material but a lack of hesitation in terms of making something different. In the case of Let the Right One In vs. Let Me In- the original’s focus seemed to be on the adolescent isolation, with the Eli’s vampirism serving as a representation of the horror of being stuck in the limbo between childhood and adulthood indefinitely. The more traditional vampire mythos in the film seems to exist as a background noise to an eloquent drama about loneliness and friendship. Let Me In, however switches the focus and emphasizes the gore and tension, but still retains the well developed characters and emotional plausibility of its predecessor. The result is a horror film that has grounding in character rather than action which makes it seem unusually wistful film for Hammer to have made their return with- it signifies a possible change in horror productions, a more ‘grown-up’ approach of creating brooding drama compared to simply relying on mindless violence.
Anyway, Let Me In has restored an optimism in me that not all remakes have to be terrible, and has resulted in me resuming my trawl through the rubbish of terrible remakes in the hopes of finding another gem of a film… Damn it.
Long time, no speak! Sorry about all that, actual life stuff got in the way for a while.
I’m about to text dump a little essay I wrote a few years back about remakes, specifically relating to Let Me In, for reference in an another article I’m working on- but I thought people might enjoy it anyway, so it’s going up on here as a public piece.
(The article is about the Let The Right One In play at the Royal Court in London, which I recommend as many of you as possible go to! So good!)
Anyway, I should be back properly at some point in the new year. Hope you’re all good