Friday, 27 August 2010

Låt Den Rätte Komma In

I'm deliberately using the original Swedish title above to emphasise as much as possible that this post is about the original film and not the Hollywood cash-in that will be polluting a cinema near you soon.
Without even needing to mention this Mormon garbage, I'll go on the record as saying that all this recent vampire nonsense in the movies and on TV disgusts me. In my opinion it's all soapy drivel that is - quite appropriately - sucking the life blood out of horror. I don't care how sexually explicit or violent True Blood 90210 is - it's drivel. Sorry.

With the exception of the entertaining (but flawed) SF/vampire thriller Daybreakers, only one film in recent years has risen above this dreary mire, and that film is Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In. It's not just better than it's contemporaries, it's a masterpiece, both in terms of genre film and cinema in general. I won't bother going into the details of what makes it so great again, as it's already been so widely praised and written about since '08. If you haven't seen it, you should do yourself a favour and see it soon, before the US remake - Let Me In - is released in about a month.

The thing that's driven me to write this admittedly bitter sounding post is that it really annoys me that all the major genre-related websites that championed the original Swedish masterpiece are now giving the remake so much exposure. I know they have to pay their bills, but must they act like such shameless media whores to do so? I've well and truly made my peace with remakes of films over 20 years old. There's been too many over the decades that prove that there's nothing wrong with retelling a great story for a new generation, and that sometimes it even produces better results than the original (see The Thing, The Fly). But the practice of instant remakes of foreign films is one that I'll never condone. I know a lot of the general home video audience is unwilling to give foreign movies a go, but given a couple of decades, these movies can filter through and gain a much wider audience than they had on their initial theatrical run.

I can hear the justifications of the apologists now: but it stars Hit Girl and that kid from The Road! So What? That's a bad thing. The strength of the original lies in the magnetic charisma of two completely unknown child actors (Kåre Hedebrant & Lina Leandersson), both of whom deliver perfect performances. Much more effective than predictably featuring this year's obnoxiously precocious Hollywood "it" kids. But it looks really arty like the original! Yeah, sure, in that totally contrived, mainstream "look how arty and indie looking this is" way. Sorry, not impressed. But they've changed the plot to adhere closer to the source novel! Uh-huh, well the writers were probably pretty desperate to come up with any gimmick that would somehow distance this from the original film and justify it's existence...

... because regardless of what anyone says, the only reason for this remake's existence is money. And a chronic dearth of creative talent. A couple of years ago I saw Let The Right One In at a screening with Tomas Alfredson in attendance, and he was not happy about it. In fact he talked for about ten minutes about how it really pissed him off.

I'm twelve. But I've been twelve for a long time.


  1. Totally with you on this one Aylmer. Even Lindqvist isn't too happy about a remake. It's a scam.

    And I've also let you in a little secret on your mail!


  2. A scam indeed. I was wondering while writing this: was it Lindqvist that held the rights and OK'd the remake? Or LTROI's producers?

  3. I didn't even know about "LET ME IN" (ugh) until I saw the preview before Piranha 3D last night. The indignation was intense, but only lasted until the fins, tits, and viscera started to fly. So not very long.


  4. I see where you're coming from, and agree that if this is handled poorly or crassly that Let Me In could be a giant, steaming piece of shit. However, that's not necessarily going to be the case as you seem to suggest. For example, I think that the American version of The Ring was superior to, but very respectful of, Ringu. So I think its possible to remake a recently made foreign film. I'll withhold judgment until I've seen the remake.

    I love your blog, by the way.

  5. Cobras: gotta get to Piranha this weekend! Watch out for the giant oceanic ones in Hawaii.

    Steven: Thanks for the kind words! I'll give it to you, The Ring WAS good! Insomnia wasn't bad either. I don't doubt that good remakes can be made. My issue with it is that it can overshadow the original and it's just pandering to laziness. Also, as far as LTROI is concerned, the fact that the author of the novel and director of the original are pissed off with it has to mean something. It's just culturally rude.

  6. Great post Aylmer... I had a plan to get LTROI on Blu, but it slipped behind...I'll defo get it now... Is True Blood really that bad ? I've never been hip enough to catch TV stuff when its actually on - like Sopranos, or The Wire, so I've always regretted missing True Blood...

  7. I'm probably being a bit harsh on True Blood. I'm just not much of a romantic vampire fan I guess. I'm always behind on the tv too... I'm looking forward to the Walking Dead.

  8. True Blood, viewed as horror, is a piece of shit. Viewed as drama about American race and sex politics with supernatural flourishes, it's not too bad.

    Walking Dead looks like it'll be killer. I re-subscribed to cable because I'm too excited about it to wait for the DVDs.

  9. I think that half the problem with True Blood is that here comes a serial that chicks dig, and it's all about Vampires and humans screwing and drinking blood... but it's not "sleazy and exploitative" in the same way as "those films you watch"... :) Go figure!

    The Walking Dead will rock - or so I hope. Have you seen the UK serial DEAD SET ???
    If not that should be second on the list after Let the RIght One In! It's brilliant!

  10. Oh, I don't think Ajvide held the rights for LtROI as far as the international one was concerned. I can probably find out in time, but I don't think he held them. That's why he's made sure to hang onto the rest and have those "final say" paragraphs in there.


  11. Hey! I love your blog so much I gave it an award!
    Get it over here at: This girl Digs Horror

  12. Hey Spooky Pie, thank you for that, it's very much appreciated!

    OK, I've done a little reading on True Blood now. I'll admit that the LGBT/civil rights allegory lends it a lot more weight than say Twi-Lite, because at least it has some subtext beyond the vamp fetish. Still not gonna get me watching though.

    Truth be told I'm just very suspicious of TV. For the most part with tv dramas I feel like I'm just being strung along by bogus storylines to keep me watching and inflate that network's ratings. Like I feel that the fans of Lost were kind of duped.

    Some TV shows that HAVE grabbed me in the last few years: Deadwood, OZ, Shameless. For the most part I just watch British comedy! And yes Zilla I did catch Dead Set and got a few chuckles out of it.

  13. "Without even needing to mention this Mormon garbage, I'll go on the record as saying that all this recent vampire nonsense in the movies and on TV disgusts me."

    Ha ha--I find that whenever I write about vampire novels from whatever period, somehow I itch to throw in something like that quote! I try to simply ignore the latest vampire fad; if it's meant to be, it'll stick around. But I'm sure somewhere in the mists of time we could find documentation that someone was pissed that Lon Chaney died and Lugosi got that famous role.

  14. I didn't realise that Chaney was up for Dracula. I guess it makes perfect sense as he was the reigning king of horror at the time.