Eternal youth comes with compromises when a need to feed can clash with the desire for friends and family. Let the Right One In deals with just such a conundrum when it launches on Paramount+ from 8 October.
Tomas Alfredson's Swedish 2008 adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's best selling vampire novel remains a masterclass in slow burn tension that still holds up almost fifteen years later.
Its westernised remake — Matt Reeves' 2010 Let Me In — took the edges off the story, so this long form television attempt threatened to be a needless, opportunistic addition to the canon.
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Thankfully, the Showtime series allays any fears in minutes, delivering a thought-provoking opener which promises great things.
Alfredson's original film adaptation remains an unnerving experience, melding elements of a twisted father-daughter relationship with moments of vampirism in its stark Scandi-noir setting.
That it got rebooted renamed and recast for western consumption in 2010 with Chloe Grace Moretz headlining was more a sign of the times than any indication of business acumen.
The biggest surprise is how anyone was allowed another crack at this stone-cold classic material following the mediocre reception afforded by Let Me In.
Watch a teaser for Let The Right One In
However, early indications are strong as audiences are quietly introduced to Mark Kane (Demian Bichir), as he travels alone via commuter train. Beside him there is a robust trunk of considerable size, which he clings to as his final destination hoves into view. There is a serenity that settles over the carriage, which is only broken by the insistent scrapping of fingernails down a luggage lining.
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Elsewhere in New York, Isiah Cole (Ian Foreman) is mixing and matching his uniform and embracing an identity his mother wishes to keep hidden. Again, there is a subtly and sensitivity to the encounter, which finds Naomi Cole (Anika Noni Rose) encouraging her son, yet impressing upon him the intolerance of others in this world. It's a central theme which simultaneously binds and drives this surprisingly faithful take on the source material.
As the sun goes down and Ellie (Madison Taylor Baez) gets to explore her new home, an insatiable craving kicks in forcing extreme measures. Chugging from a plastic bottle, she is satisfied for the time being while her father applies another band aid and they settle in.
With a dynamic defined through devotion to her sick daughter, Let the Right One In deals with this affliction compassionately without ever being overly sentimental.
Separated from his wife and barely on speaking terms with Naomi next door, this story deals with damaged relationships, populated by people in need of emotional support. Faced with having to move around constantly, Ellie is forever an outsider viewing life from a unique perspective, while her father perpetually seeks out a cure.
Slowly but surely Isiah and Ellie are drawn together, perhaps seeing an equally lost soul in each other. Both Naomi and Mark find themselves on a similar trajectory, while sub-plots involving an indiscriminate serial killer and eccentric billionaire slowly intertwine. In a concise and perfectly paced opening hour, creator Andrew Hinderaker (Penny Dreadful) lays all his puzzle pieces out for audiences to see.
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It's an approach which results in a combination of atmospheric police procedural, blood-soaked family melodrama, and supernatural segue. There are brief flashbacks to a time when Mark and Ellie were settled, which provides emotional context, while Matthew Logan (Nick Stahl) signposts the only obvious plot point in an otherwise flawless first sixty minutes.
While tapping into the creeping dread of Alfredson’s original, this version also takes full advantage of an expanded canvas to explore every inch of the source material.
Oscar-nominated actor Demian Bichir (A Better Life) really injects his portrayal with pathos, while Madison Taylor Baez proves to be a revelation as Ellie. Perfectly skating a line between pre-pubescent blood sucker and inquisitive innocent.
For those who like things a little bloody, Let the Right One In also seeks to scratch that itch, as ravaged corpses and eviscerated remains litter New York sidewalks. Combined with the introduction of Claire Logan (Grace Gummer), daughter to the reclusive billionaire Matthew, who majors in blood diseases, Let the Right One In soon manages to draw together three distinct narrative strands into a cohesive whole.
On the strength of this opening episode alone, it would be fair to say that Andrew Hinderaker and his outstanding ensemble of creatives have made something special.
Let the Right One In premieres on Paramount+ from 8 October, with new episodes every Saturday.