Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist Original Title: Låt den rätte komma in Page: 480 Genre: Gothic, Horror Published by: Thomas Dunne Books in 2007 (transl. version)
Adapted into: Let the Right One In (2008) by Thomas Alfredson and Let Me In (2010) by Matt Reeves.
Let the Right One In is a kind of gothic-horror novel that creeps people out for being too gloomy, too bleak, too silent, and too atmospheric; therefore, it’s never been easy to read it with normal senses. The plot revolves around the life of a 12-year-old Stockholm boy, Oskar, with his pathetic life: living wit a divorced family (he lives with his mother, while he visits his father sometimes), being a flimsy victim of local bullying by his schoolmates, and developing morbid interest: collecting newspaper articles about murder. Author John Ajvide Lindqvist relies mostly on the narratives that gone disturbing time by time in revealing Oskar’s background.
Not long, a mysterious girl named Eli along with an older man posing as her father move to the apartment next door. Oskar can only meet he girl at night as he never sees her during the day; soon, they befriend each other by seeing each other or sending Morse code. In the mean time, series of murders take place in the town, Babelberg following Eli’s arrival. The frequently asked questions are: Are those events interconnected? Why can’t Oskar meet Eli during the day? Is she a vampire? However, the ultimate question is: Is that all?
This book provides abundant of answers to that questions—too abundant that it’s crystal clear; the thing is, this book never makes it easy. With total 4 parts presented in some chapters, the book attempts to narrate the unique story (of modern myth in modern issues) in a sophisticated but delightful way; exploring many characters to get involved and interconnected to each other. Kudos to Lindqvist with his visions in dividing each character’s concentration to what happened beneath Let the Right One In.
Although the characters are children, this is simply not a child story: it’s a story of a beast, of broken feelings and inferiority. The characterizations of Oskar and Eli might be depicted in an opposite side, but how they relate to each other is more than just a social study—many elements work to support it. I rarely read books with good characterization but exploring horror as an atmospheric genre; therefore, I found it very interesting when I read Let the Right One In for the first time.
So far, there have been two cinematic adaptations of Let the Right One In: the first one is the Swedish horror by Thomas Alfredson with the same title and the other is the Hollywood adaptation, Let Me In directed by Matt Reeves.
Alfredson’s adaptation is a more loyal one as it’s written for screen by Lindqvist himself. However, it strips off some minor characters and events also the pedophile sub-theme from the book to focus more on the relationship between the two leads. The result were great; the movie vibrantly projects the queer relationship between Eli and Oskar as well as frightens the audience with silent, unpredictable atmosphere for the whole duration. The best parts of this movie actually can even present the key to the events in the book brilliantly, like in the ‘”I’m not a girl” scene and “Let me in” scene; which I always adore as the most heart-breaking and mind-blowing depiction of modern vampire.
Reeves’ adaptation gets some more Hollywood taste, as it moves the setting from Babelberg, Stockholm to Los Alamos, New Mexico and renames the character into Owen and Abby. I always think that Let Me In, is a retelling of Let the Right One In but in a different side of the world, that’s why some changes are naturally made by itself; just like telling Cinderella in another continents. However, Let Me In could deliver the same terrifying atmosphere and insecurity from both the book and the Swedish version with its own way… It understands how the original terrifies people with atmosphere instead of using some ol’ Hollywood tricks.
If I should choose, I’d choose the Swedish version as a better adaptation over the American version with a slight difference only. Both of them are mesmerizing: artistically and atmospherically; that’s why I can say that: Lindqvist should be proud of having two great adaptations of his masterpiece.