The 2010 horror film Let Me In, an America re-make of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In, does a fantastic job of bringing this story to the American stage by leaving it largely untouched. Director Matt Reeves, (Cloverfield) produces a solid, creepy tale of two young people who have no one to turn to but each other.
Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee star as 12 year old’s Abby and Owen. Owen is a fragile young boy living in strained family life and consistently bullied in school. Abby appears to be a 12 year old girl who moves from town to town with her father, as played by Richard Jenkins. The film begins with an ambulance ride as someone has spilled a type of acid on themselves. The person is taken to a hospital where a policeman attempts to question him. As soon as the policeman leaves the room, the man leaps out of the building to his death. We flash two weeks back to Owen, playing in the snow. His mother, who is never fully shown in the film which is a fantastic choice as she’s not an important character and in the film is about the children, seems to be an alcoholic. Owen’s parents are getting a divorce we discover and along with that hardship, he’s having a difficult time in school due to the constant bullying by three older boys. One night Owen notices a new family moving in and he immediately notices the young girl Abby. She warns him that they cannot be friends but he ignores her and quickly becomes close to her. During this time we see Abby’s father killing random people and saving the blood that he drains from them. Abby begins to teach Owen how to stand up for himself and encourages him after Owen maims one of the bullies at school Eventually the two run away from home together.
If you haven’t seen either of these films and don’t want to be spoiled, please do not read past this point. What Abby turns out to be is a vampire trapped in the body of a 12 year old. It’s never revealed as to how old she really is, however it’s clear that the father character used to be a young boy that has taken care of her for years. Abby emotionally seems to be a 12 year old as well and she’s not smart enough to kill discretely. Once her “father” has died, Abby begins to kill whomever is closest to her and doesn’t care if she turns them into a vampire as well. Towards the end of the film, the bullies come back for revenge and hold Owen under water until he is nearly drowned. In a fantastic scene, We see the heads, limbs, and organs of the bullies fall into the water near Owen as Abby has come to his aid.
Without getting into a discussion on which is better, I will say that the English version is certainly more accessible as it is a more traditional story and spoon feeds more information to the audience. The biggest example I can think of regarding this is the true nature of what exactly Abby is. She states a few times in both versions that she’s not a girl. The audience is therefore expected to think that she means she’s a vampire. In the Swedish version we learn through Owen’s peeping (Oscar in the original version), that she was physically mutilated early in life and is actually a boy. The Swedish version of this plays out extremely well as the young girl playing this role could look like a male or a female. In this American re-make the decision was made to cut this as it wasn’t accessible enough for American audiences. The main difference when comparing these two films, which are both great is that everything in the American version is a little more glossy, a little more Hollywood, and a little more surface level.