Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
A Book vs Movie Post
This post is just a bit different from my usual book vs movie. There are actually two movie adaptations of the book, made within only a couple years of each other. So I watched both and will be comparing all three. Second, I did not wait to finish the book before watching the movies. I watched the first just as I started the book and the other while I was about halfway. I thought it would be fun to switch it up, plus I'd already read the book previously, although it was long enough ago that I barely remembered it.
This book is one of the only vampire novels I know of that mainly focuses on children while being meant for adults. The main characters Eli and Oskar are twelve years old. Rather they both appear to be twelve years old, Eli is actually a vampire that's lived hundreds of years. Despite her long life, Eli still has childlike qualities highlighted by her interactions with Oskar. While their relationship is the main focus of the story, the book bounces around to several other minor characters and subplots that all converge. It all comes together well, and in all it's a great book. Although I will admit towards the end it felt like it was dragging a bit. I got a bit impatient and wanted to rush through to the end. I don't remember feeling that the first time I read the book, and while that was quite a while ago I'm going to assume this more likely due to watching the movie first. Since I already knew what was coming at the end, it didn't have the same hold on my attention.
The Swedish adaptation is damn good. It was obviously a much more pared down version of the book, with fewer characters and subplots. However, they were able condense the story and cut out parts that weren't integral. Although, they did hint at one major part of Eli's backstory but didn't elaborate, which in that case could have just been left out. Otherwise, I think they did an excellent job with adapting it. The movie has a pretty eerie atmosphere. The beginning was especially jarring and seemed stilted. It seems to echo the book in that respect, jumping around to different story lines, yet moving faster than the book. It's hard to describe but while moving quickly it still felt like a slow buildup.
The American version, Let Me In, was made only two years after the Swedish movie. It's not supposed to be a remake but its own adaptation of the book. While sticking to the same basic story it was a pretty different movie. I guess on its own it might be an okay movie but after the book and the first adaptation it was disappointing. I thought there were pointless changes, like changing of main character names, and they cut out a lot more of the story. It didn't have the same affect and felt a lot more rushed. Even the friendship between the two main characters seemed to spring up overnight.
What makes the book stand out is while it sticks with most of the usual vampire lore, it does include some new and original aspects. In particular, which I'm glad they included in both movies, was depicting the consequences of uninvited entry. It's not something that's often addressed and it's sick, in a good way, effect.
The book is the obvious winner here. It's just so much more than would have been possible in a film. However, the Swedish adaptation was pretty well done. I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch. Meanwhile, the American version isn't really worth bothering.
A version of this was previously published to my blog, Last Words: Book vs Movie series. Check it out to see all the film adaptations I've compared to their literary counterparts. Or check out bookshop list below, for the full list and a quick summary of which I preferred. (As an affiliate, I get nothing for my opinions but do earn a small commission from resulting sales.)
About the Creator
Alexis M. Collazo
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. An avid reader, writer and multimedia creator. Relocated to Pennsylvania where she is currently focused on writing, crafting and leading workshops online. Visit www.alexismcollazo.com for more info.
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