Yesterday, without warning, a switch flipped. A small, unfamiliar switch deep in my black, cynical heart was knocked loose from its customary "OH NO" position into a wholely new "OH WOW" one. Because yesterday I, like thousand of other movie fans around the world, experienced the international trailer for Let Me In, the American remake of the astoundingly great Swedish vampire flick (and so much more), Let the Right One In.
Like many - like you, probably - I find the words "American remake" inspire little confidence. So when I heard my favorite movie of 2008 was getting USAified, I cringed. Quite literally, as though the insult that was still years away from theaters had snuck up and punched me in the gut.
Sure, Chloe Moretz's Hit Girl proved the young actress had the chops to play way past her bedtime. Yes, director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) talked a good game at SXSW. He loved the original. He read the novel. He made sure they kept the kids young - missing out on all that filthy Twilight lucre, no doubt. But I have to admit that I wasn't prepared to let in the possibility that his remake might not suck until I saw that trailer.
I watched it ten times before the day was out. I can't put my finger on why it spun me 180. All i can say is it looks right. It feels right. I'm embarrassed to type this but: I think there's a soul in there. This might actually be good.
In an effort to understand, I chained our intern Kyle to a Mac and made him grab stills from the trailer and the original. Let's see what we can find out, shall we? In all cases, the Swedish film is on top. (Spoilers for the original ahead.)
Let's start with Oskar/Owen. Yeah, Eli/Abby is who you see in the posters but make no mistake, the movie is his story. I have to admit, Kodi Smit-McPhee has that "I'm cold, lonely and miserable" thing down pat.
Lina Leandersson has set the bar impossibly high. Even I don't think Chloe is going to match her animalistic ferocity. Still, it's reassuring to see here that she can carry even a portion of Lina's ageless maturity and deep-in-the-bones weariness.
We have our core cast, and that's a minor miracle all by itself. The film hinges on her desperate strength and his ability to give and endure despite his painful vulnerability. The above two images alone would have been enough to ratchet up my optimism.
The setting feels awfully right too. The same sense of alienation and isolation. And cold. Snow and ice are practically a supporting character in the original, and it's great to see that hasn't been lost.
And lest we forget, there will be blood.
I think I'm beginning to get it. Let the right cast members in. Let the right elements remain unchanged. Let the right director respect his source material and his audience. And let's hope I'm right about Let Me In.
Since we don't pay Kyle, here are some more comparisons for your enjoyment.