Tuesday, 30 June 2015

'Let the Right One In' vs 'Let Me In'

Blogosphere, hello and welcome back! Today, in order to be a part of a project set up by the awesome translation company Smartling, I've decided to comparatively look at the Swedish film 'Let the Right One In' (2008) alongside the American remake 'Let Me In' (2010). Yes, they are indeed both horror movies (which I am admittedly not the most avid viewer of), however given that the super cool plot line of the films outweighs the fear factor, I was able to sit through them without suffering from a potentially life threatening cardiac arrest (which, you know, is definitely a bonus). I have always found the idea of international remakes pretty cool, because it means that everyone around the world is able to connect with the same storyline, however sometimes they don't quite work out as planned. In this post, I'm going to give you guys my own evaluation. Does the American remake do justice to the original? You'll have to wait and see.

Differences Between the Two Films

In order to make a judgment, I've decided to list some of the differences between the films to see whether anything vital was lost in translation. 

The Style of Storytelling

In 'Let the Right One In', the film moves rather slowly, as the rate at which the audience gradually discovers everything parallels the journey of the characters. However, in 'Let Me In', the plot is non-linear, as the film begins in what would be the middle of the story, meaning that as we make our way through the movie, the audience has more knowledge of the events that will transpire than the characters. Although these differences are seemingly inconsequential, they really do change the feeling of the two films. The original Swedish film seems a bit more intimate, and at times, more straightforward, while the style of the American one leaves the audience unsure of the film's themes at times, meaning that we have to think a bit harder throughout. Which is better? It's honestly hard to say. Overall, I'd say that despite the approach being very different, they're both equally as effective.   

The Car Scene

Although the plots of the two films are practically identical, and often can be found paralleling one another on a scene by scene basis, there's one in 'Let Me In' which does not feature at all in the original. Of course, it is in the same style and accords with the overall atmosphere of the Swedish film, however it incorporates some references targeted to resonate with an American audience. Without giving too much away, it's the scene in the movie where the father messes up a kill and has to disfigure himself, and trust me, it's sure to stop anyone who intends to walk to their car alone at night. The scene occurs around a typical American automobile, so you can be sure that the take home message is that things in America are not as they appear to be, this being done by perverting a national icon with violence and gore. Point America!

The Neighbours

In 'Let the Right One In', there is an awkward sequence in which some adult neighbours are seen hanging around at a bar and at each other's houses, before one is attacked by a blood-thirsty Eli, another is turned into a vampire, and the rest are attacked by a pack of CGI cats. Why? No one really knows. In the American remake, there are still some adult neighbours around, but they become more like caricatures of what suburban adulthood is supposed to entail, and act as a warning for the father, who does not wish to end up like them. Although in 'Let Me In' one of the neighbours does get bitten by Abby, they are not then attacked by a horde cats, which I think we can agree is for the best.  


While 'Let Me In' is by no means an extravagantly expensive film by Hollywood standards, its budget was much larger than its Swedish predecessor 'Let the Right One In'. In the remake, I can admit that you can definitely see a difference. Abby's transformation is much more convincing and, if it's even possible, realistic, and the prosthetics on the father when he's in hospital are definitely convincing. However, in the American film, it becomes a bit much when you see fight scene after fight scene, while in the original, what was not seen on camera, and therefore, was unknown, made parts of the story much more menacing. All in all, I'd have to give this round to Sweden. 

The Setting

Where a film is set is definitely a contributing factor that relates to the themes it deals with and the overall atmosphere of the movie, meaning that the creative decision to set 'Let Me In' in 1980's America makes it significantly differ from the original. Throughout it, there are a bunch of pop culture references, including Owen's obsession with Now & Laters, frequent images of Reagan popping up, as well as the ubiquitous 80's catch cry 'It's 10pm. Do you know where your children are?' broadcast on TV. It may not seem like much, but the setting helps to enhance the juxtaposition between seemingly wholesome American suburban life and the dark themes of the film. Then again, 'Let the Right One In' is effective in its own right, so deciding which setting is superior isn't really possible. 


Overall, taking into account all of their differences, I would have to say that these two films are pretty even. I know, I know, it's a boring outcome, but hey, it's true. Not often does international cinema translate well into English, however somehow, this film is an exception. The two are very similar, but differ just enough to make them awesome in their own right. All in all, I suggest you check out both films, however if you only get time to watch one, you can be sure that they are of equal quality, and tackle the same themes awesomely.

That's pretty much all I have for you. Hopefully you enjoyed my comments on the effectiveness of the translation of foreign films, and have some new movies to check out in your free time. Thanks again to Smartling for pioneering this project! Til' next time . . .

Annabel xx

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