Let The Right One In: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

RightOne2 This is a play that we saw in London that I did not select. A friend organized a group of 20 to go, and of course I said yes without a thought. (I never say no.) I had no idea what it was about, and sat down in the theater with a completely pure and empty mind.I learned only during the intermission that the stage production is based on a vampire movie, which is actually based on a book which was originally published in Sweden.

And it was … odd.  Not difficult — hello, I write SF. I can see the vampire meme coming at me. It was horror, which is always difficult to stage well, and vampires (along with the werewolves and zombies) are kind of everywhere these days. So this had to be something different. And what it really was about was about disaffected and unhappy young teens. So she’s a vampire. He’s a victim of bullies, he has it just as bad. The vampirism is just another life issue, like your dysfunctional family life. And this makes it kind of ordinary. Which is not a good thing for a vampire to be.

What I probably should do is see the movie, which may be closer to the source material. The stage artistry of this was very fine — the not-human quality of a vampire is wonderfully conveyed, as is the very-young teen quality of the protagonists. Only when they step up for the curtain call do you realize how old the actors actually are. And there is one moment of pure stage sleight-of-hand, when the hero is being drowned in a swimming pool. Somehow they submerge the actor for many minutes, and he doesn’t die, or even thrash around much. How was it done? Mirrors, projection, an air tube? I have no idea.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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Let The Right One In: A Very Short Review — 7 Comments

  1. Two movies, actually. The second was the American version, Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves.

    I personally preferred Reeves’ telling of the story, which is odd, because I usually shy away from Hollywood remakes. I just found the setting more eerie and terrifying, and the story-telling more cohesive and perhaps more believable.

    The original movie definitely stuck closer to the source novel, but I’m not sure that was necessarily to its benefit, since there were some aspects of the book that veered into near-absurdity and seemed to be there more for their shock value than for any real desire on the part of the author to seriously explore their implications in a larger context.

    But overall, both the novel and the movies were fascinating and moving each in their own right, and it doesn’t sound like this stage adaptation did justice to the concept.

  2. I do wonder how people decide that a book or movie needs to be transferred to stage. (I am the person who was certain that LES MISERABLES could never be done in live action.) This work was clearly not a FROZEN or a FOOTLOOSE, so wildly popular that more money cried out be milked from an Ice Capades or Off Broadway production. So someone must have seen the movie(s) or read the book and was smitten with the idea.

  3. Me, I think what you should do is read the book, then decide whether or not to see either of the films. I recommend it rather highly, actually. At least, the translation published in the UK was excellent. (It makes a difference: a friend read different UK and US translations of Peter Hoeg’s “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow”, and said it was like reading two entirely different books, one slow and thoughtful while the other was a fast-paced thriller.)

    • Spoiler Alert! (if you haven’t read the book but plan to, you might want to stop reading here)

      But didn’t you find the spectre of a pulp-headed zombie with a perpetual erection lurching through the streets of Stockholm in lustful search of his vampire companion to be just a tad ludicrous?

      And the whole issue of the castration was neither adequately explained nor presented as anything more than a point of gruesome titillation for the reader. It seemed almost like an afterthought, where it should have played a more central role in the narrative, since something that momentous would have had a serious impact on the developing relationship between the two youngsters. The author really didn’t do it justice (Eli: “I used to be a boy once, but a vampire castrated me because, well, I don’t really know.” Oskar: “Oh. Well, that’s alright then. We should run away together now.” The End.)

      Overall I did really like the book; it just at times seemed as if the author wasn’t entirely clear on what kind of story he was telling. I’m not sure which version of the translation it was (US or UK); I never realised there might be more than one…

      p.s. I listened to part of “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow” being read on a local radio program once, but could never remember the name of the book. I’ve been trying to figure it out for years, without much success. And now I not only have a name, but an author as well. I knew I came here for a reason! Thank you for this!

      • I dunno; your description fills me with the thought that this is Not My Cup of Tea. Clearly much material was pruned out for the stage production, which is probably a good thing.

        • Aw, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to ruin it for you! This is why I don’t like to post spoilers. It really is a fascinating story, just imperfectly developed.

          I do think the premise is too complex to effectively adapt for stage or film without simplifying it the way the American version did. Though the Swedish movie stayed closer to the source material, it provided no frame of reference whatsoever for Eli’s condition, leaving a perplexing gap in the narrative, particularly for those who hadn’t read the book (if you’re going to shock me like that, you need to give me something more to, erm, hold on to!).

          If nothing else, it certainly put an entirely different spin on the statement “I’m not a girl.”