Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 09:01 UK

Let The Right One In... Again?

by Kev Geoghegan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Let the Right One In
The part of Eli is played by 13-year-old Lina Leandersson

The Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In, released in UK cinemas this week, has been universally praised for helping to revitalise a genre which had become a bit, well, long in the tooth.

Over the past 12 months, we've had the good-looking teenage emo-vampires of Twilight brooding their way to the top of the UK box office.

And then there was Matt Horne and James Corden's spectacular misfire Lesbian Vampire Killers, which amounted to a kind of Carry On Up the Crucifix.

Let The Right One In is based on a 2004 Swedish best-selling novel of the same name by the writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.

"Original mixture"

It tells the tale of Oskar, a lonely young boy living on a rundown estate on the outskirts of Stockholm. Bullied and outcast, his life takes a dramatic turn when a mysterious young girl, Eli - soon revealed to be a vampire - moves in next door.

Tomas Alfredson
The film has picked up several international awards

The pair's fledgling relationship is central to the film, which is part arty Euro horror, part coming of age romance. It has picked up a slew of film awards and is already being held up as a masterpiece of the genre.

"It's something you never could expect, I'm always very surprised when people have striking feelings about what I do even if they hate it," says the film's director Tomas Alfredson.

"I think I do the same job every time, I think I put a lot of love and effort into everything I do.

"For a vampire story, I thought it was very believable and very down to earth and had this very original mixture between social realism and fantasy."

Despite the plaudits being heaped upon the subtitled film, the rights to the story have been bought by the British film studio Hammer Films, which is going ahead with a remake using a US director and English-speaking stars.

It is not something that sits entirely well with Alfredson.

"Why are they doing it? Because they love the film, or do they see an opportunity to make some extra bucks?" he ponders.

"If greed is the main motivator, it's very seldom that the result is good. But if you are motivated by a love for the story, then there's the chance for something good.

"At first, I hated the idea but now, well, it really doesn't matter. If they make a very good film it will be interesting to see."

Let the Right One In
The crew shot the film in temperatures of about minus 20C

In recent years, Hollywood has taken several successful independent foreign horrors and remade them for their domestic audience.

The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, was a remake of Japanese film Ringu. The American version actually outperformed the original at the box office in Japan.

2005's Dark Water, with Jennifer Connolly, was another remake of a Japanese horror and earned more than $50m (£34m) worldwide.

Spanish drama [Rec] was released with an American cast as Quarantine and topped the US box office on its opening day.

Aubrey Day, editor at Total Film magazine, says it is not surprising when Hollywood picks up on smaller independent movies.

"I think what it boils down to is that the Hollywood studios are aware that many Americans, particularly around Middle America, just won't go and see a subtitled film, so it's a harsh economic reality.

"Rather than distribute a Swedish horror film, the only way to get a genuine sized audience is to remake it with American actors and American dialogue."

Future of remakes

The new version, tentatively titled Let Me In, relocates the story from the icy Swedish winter to "somewhere in Colorado", according to the man taking charge of the film, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.

In an interview with MTV, he said: "I see the film as essentially being the fantasies of this 12 year old who's having such a hard time."

Matt Reeves
Reeves wants his version of the film to be ready for release in 2010

Reeves was praised for his reworking of the movie monster genre in Cloverfield and is widely accepted to be a talented director. That should, at least, allay any fears of a ham-fisted attempt at a remake.

"I had such a personal reaction when I saw the movie and when I read the book," he says. "I felt like there was an opportunity to do something incredibly personal while still being in a genre arena."

With much of the industry tightening belts to cope with the global financial recession, Aubrey Day says the trend of remaking even lower-budget cult films is likely to continue.

He adds: "Films are prohibitively expensive to make and you're always taking a multi-million pound risk. Any way a studio can reduce that risk, they will try.

"One way to reduce the risk is to take a known quantity. If a film's played well in Europe and put bums on seats, there's a decent chance that a remake version will do the same thing."

Let The Right One In is released in the UK on Friday.

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