‘Let The Right One In’ vs. ‘Let Me In’: Cast Comparison
In 2008, director Tomas Alfredson brought Let The Right One In to life in John Ajvide Lindqvist tale of two young individuals in Stockholm: Oskar, a 12-year-old boy and Eli, a centuries-old vampire who strike an unlikely friendship. While 2 years later in 2010, Matt Reeves would bring the story to the Reagan-era of New Mexico, renaming the characters Owen and Abby in Let Me In. On the surface you would question the true nature of the story, but the essence lies in its altruistic need for a friend when surrounded by the negativity of man.
Dealing with fractured tales of pedophilia and school bullying, subject matter not easy to digest and depict on film, both films present the core relationship as honest and good-natured protection of one another. The different settings and particular subplots change the dynamic between all the characters and their story.
Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) vs. Owen (Kodi Smith-McPhee)
Both come from neglectful parents, who lack a presence (at times mentally or physically) leaves them to spend their time in the wasteland of the working class building projects. Oskar begins to define himself by retaliating against his bully through more violent means, while Owen is left more emotionally fractured and in desperate need of his own way out. Smith-McPhee plays up the more emotionally vulnerable (and open) aspects, while being physically lesser than his Swedish counterpart. Hedebrant feels more appropriately lost in the time of his present, wandering the unknown, defining himself by his need for revenge and ultimately finding a friend.
Eli (Lina Leandersson) vs. Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz)
The vampire aspect here gets played much differently from either adaptation. Eli is played in a more androgynous light, while Abby uses the presence of her female sexuality as a lure to her more creature-like appearance when lusting for blood. This is due to the subplot in the source novel that revealed Eli was castrated as a boy before being turned into a vampire, something hinted at in Alfredson’s adaptation and not in Reeves’. Leandersson plays Eli as a repulsive figure, one that no one could understandably care for because of her vampiric quality and yet, has her guardian and Oskar wanting to protect her vampiric identity. Moretz plays Abby as if longing for someone to care about her, someone not damaged by life-long sacrifices and seeking a more intimate relationship with her protector(s).
Hakan (Per Ragnar) vs. The Father (Richard Jenkins)
The Protector. The Father. The lover and the scorned individual, who sacrificed so much for the one they loved as a young child is the most tragic figure in the films. Played very differently and (dare I say) with deeper layers of physical and emotional toll by Richard Jenkins. Nothing against Ragnar, who brings forth believability in devoting one’s life to their childhood friendship/love, Jenkins adds layers of discontent and animosity not readily apparent with Ragnar’s performance. Jenkins’ sacrifice comes from hiding the shame of his decades-long murders and protecting Abby, while Ragnar’s is about a selfless sacrifice in protecting Eli above all else, a sort of declaration of his love towards her.
Both Alfredson and Reeves directed well defined versions of the novel by author John Ajvide Lindqvist that have different emotional and physical tones. What’s most apparent is that the narrative remains unchanged. The actors who portrayed these characters are simply telling the same story: the tale of two young individuals who seek a bond with one another that their life is missing. Nurtured through love and protection, a defining quality for any generation.