Sometimes it's simple to foresee which classic stories will be adapted repeatedly. Nobody objects to the most recent adaptations of War and Peace, David Copperfield, or Hamlet.
L't den rätte komma in by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist may not seem like the most logical option for a modern-day Shakespeare, but I find myself continually drawn to the various adaptations of this menacing vampire thriller from 2004. The 2008 film Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredson is a wonderful blending of horror, suspense, and coming-of-age drama. The novel is already a brilliant reinterpretation of traditional vampire lore. One of the most successful needless remakes is Matt Reeves' 2010 American version, with its name changed to Let Me In. It successfully mimics Alfredson's film and adds just enough originality to make it stand-out on its own. An inventive bit of stagecraft was a 2013 British stage adaptation.
With many of the darker aspects of sexuality and gender fluidity that give the source material its power removed, Showtime's new Let the Right One In is by far the safest iteration to date. Creator Andrew Hinderaker is still able to use the material as a platform for some new undercurrents that I found interesting, if not entirely successful, even in what is also the loosest adaptation of the material to date.
Hinderaker's Let the Right One In, which was "influenced" by the book, centres on Mark (Demián Bichir) and his daughter Eleanor (Madison Taylor Baez), who return to New York City after leaving when Eleanor was 12 years old. Eleanor doesn't age, you see. She has a bloodlust that has no bounds. And terrible things occur when she tries to enter a house without authorization. Together, Mark and Eleanor have developed a sophisticated system to deal with her vampiric impulses, and Mark has been looking for the creature who converted Eleanor for ten years in the hopes of discovering a cure.
A slew of recent, grisly murders that Mark suspects may be vampire-related are among the factors that have drawn Mark and Eleanor back to New York. They moved into an apartment building with an atmospheric courtyard as an homage to the original material, and there Eleanor forms a shaky friendship with general misfit and aspiring magician Isaiah (Ian Foreman). As part of the coincidence to end all coincidences, Isaiah's mother, Naomi (Anika Noni Rose), is the detective looking into those most recent murders, and his father, Ato Essandoh, is a sober drug user who might be connected to a not-so-tangential plotline involving a dying pharmaceutical tycoon (eljko Ivanek), his estranged daughter (Grace Gummer), and a son (Ja
The deeply twisted relationship at the heart of the book, in which the young girl vampire is unquestionably not a young girl and the adult male who is guarding them and providing for them is unquestionably not their father, has been directly addressed in each adaptation of Let the Right One In with progressively less interest in (or ability to) do so. With a chaste-but-sweet (kind of) love tale (maybe) between preteens, one of whom isn't a preteen, the foundation of the novel might be anything the author chooses to make it: a genuinely distorted portrayal of deviant sexuality or a biting satire on how stupid people react to diversity.
Let the Right One In seems to have smoothed out all of the sharp edges on that front. All indications point to Mark and Eleanor being essentially what they appear to be—namely, a horrifyingly devoted father and the daughter he will stop at nothing to cure. The first five episodes of the show, along with a very powerful origin story episode from later in the season, have been sent to critics. Imagine Lorenzo's Oil with a touch of the undead.
Eleanor's vampirism is reduced in duration, which causes her to become a 22-year-old locked in a 12-year-body. old's This Eleanor is not the preternaturally solemn figure with hundreds of years of loneliness and all kind of appetites, which causes some discomfort to the blossoming intimacy with Isaiah. Baez's vision of the character, in turn, is moulded by trauma but lacks the same post-adolescent melancholy that has been present in earlier interpretations and that undoubtedly affected how Claudia, the newborn vampire, is handled in the current season of AMC's Interview With the Vampire.
My original interpretation of the character introduction of Isaiah was that he may be trans; this felt like a very clever variant on the issues already present in the novel and would have given Let the Right One In a totally organic position in current dialogues. But I don't think that's what the intention is.
However, creating Let the Right One A simpler father-daughter tale rings true in the vicinity. He is like any other father who is unable to comprehend the changes his small daughter is going through as they both continue to adjust to life without the other female presence in it (Fernanda Andrade, used effectively in flashbacks). This is contrasted with the story of Isaiah, a youngster raised by a single mother, and both storylines gain depth through the racial specificity. While Kevin Carroll's performance as Mark's godfather and a former coworker is excellent, having Mark be a former chef just serves to contrast his duties as a food provider and opens the door for the drama to have Catholic ritual and guilt as its underpinnings. Giving Mark snippets of Spanish language also highlights the parts of this environment where he can fit in and the portions where he is instantly an outsider.
Mark's suffering and regret are grounded by Bichir, and he and Baez are able to depict a painfully loved relationship. Eleanor is given flashes of frightening maturity and some ominous dark-eyed menace by Baez, but I'm already interested in how the series will handle having an 11-year-old lead actress portray a character who cannot age.
The way Hinderaker is addressing the necessity to develop this plot has already failed to persuade me. When performing their mother-son moments, Rose and Foreman are both excellent, but their attempts to make scenes between Naomi and her partner (Jimmie Saito's Ben) reflect observations on racial dynamics in urban policing so far haven't been successful. Similar to the second plotline, I'm not sure I buy the third one, which is supposed to explicitly address the Sacklers and the pain epidemic in America, but it does provide Nick Stahl a heartbreaking comeback part that draws on the actor's well-known struggles with addiction and recovery.
Draw your own conclusions about how the NYPD and community policing would fit into that, too. In the absence of preexisting subtext relating to sexuality and associated appetites, I can see how Hinderaker is aiming for something paralleling the parasitic drug companies with vampirism, but nothing in the Sackler-esque storyline feels urgent or essential. Let the Right One In, directed by Seith Mann, is more unsettling than frightening, and despite the book's and movie's numerous modifications, the sections that frightened me the most were primarily scenes that were carried over from earlier iterations.
Let the Right One In as a text probably shouldn't be introduced to anyone through the Showtime series. Watch the two films after reading the book. Even while the show doesn't deliver the devastating variants on a fertile theme that I would have hoped for, its complementing aspects do have some value once you know the story and acknowledge that this isn't conclusive.