Let the Right One In Premiere Review - "Anything for Blood"
Let The Right One In premieres on Showtime on Oct. 9, with new episodes weekly.
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel Let the Right One In has already been made into two excellent horror movies: a 2008 Swedish film he wrote the screenplay for and a 2010 version from Matt Reeves that moved the story to Reagan-era New Mexico. Now it’s getting the series treatment, and while the premiere of Showtime’s Let the Right One In promises a solid vampire thriller, it’s one that has much less in common with the source material than the previous adaptations.
In this version of the story, 12-year-old Eleanor Kane (Madison Taylor Baez) was turned into a vampire and she and her devoted father, Mark Kane (Demián Bichir), have spent a decade chasing rumors of other undead in search of a cure. That quest leads them back to New York, which is held in the grips of fear by a series of gruesome murders being investigated by homicide detective Naomi Cole (Anika Noni Rose). The Kanes coincidentally move in next door to Naomi, where her son, Isaiah (Ian Foreman), befriends Eleanor.
The way the key plot elements of Lindqvist’s novel have been recombined fundamentally changes the tone of the story. The child vampire has previously been portrayed as much older. While they’re assumed to be her father, the men in her life are actually part of a twisted cycle of manipulation. The troubled boys she charms are just the latest all-too-willing victims who will wind up spending the rest of their lives helping to protect and feed her.
These edits fundamentally soften all of the characters involved. Mark’s depicted as brutally ruthless but feels less like a hardened predator and more like the protagonist of the 2022 Swedish thriller Black Crab — a distraught parent willing to do great evil for the sake of his child. Eleanor’s stunted nature is still chilling, with Baez doing an excellent job at conveying both her innocent joy at a trip to a museum and the anguish she feels when dealing with the realities of her monstrous nature. But by making her much younger, she comes across as a relative innocent struggling with a beast within her rather than a horrifying parasite that feeds on both blood and empathy.
Isaiah is a sweet kid shunned for his love of magic tricks, which Naomi says makes him an easy target for bullying. That’s a far cry from the borderline sociopaths brutally tortured by their peers that have served as the protagonists of the story’s previous versions. Making Isaiah’s mother a detective and a protagonist in her own right rather than just giving him a distant and oblivious parent strips away more of the vulnerability at the heart of his story. Modern-day New York also feels like the wrong setting for a work deeply rooted in suburban despair. The hip restaurant where Mark finds work from an old friend feels more like an excuse to show where he picked up his impressive knife skills than a setting that actually belongs in this grim story.
Just as significant as what Let The Right One In removes is what it adds. By focusing on the pursuit of a cure rather than just the vampire’s base survival, the show delves far deeper into mythology than its moody predecessors. The premiere introduces two entirely new plot arcs — a street drug that seems to temporarily give people who take it vampiric powers and a more scientific search for a cure led by the Sackler-like pharmaceutical billionaire Arthur Logan (Željko Ivanek).
Demian Bichir’s combination of charm and vulnerability helps anchor the emotional stakes.“
Both plots seem promising and intertwine back to Eli and Mark, setting the stage for a rich mystery involving vampirism that feels a bit like The Passage. Bichir’s combination of charm and vulnerability helps anchor the emotional stakes even as the premiere ensures he’s not too sympathetic a character through an act of brutality that calls into question the idea that it might be forgivable to just kill “bad guys.”
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Samantha Nelson