Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Halo 5 Guardians
The Master Chief returns
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Posted on Friday April 4, 2014, 14:59 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In has just opened at the London Apollo, following successful runs at the Royal Court and National Theatre Scotland, which is good news for vampire fans who are looking for a theatrical fix. After all, while our stages groan with doomed princes, '20s playboys and Mormon missionaries, there are relatively few literal bloodsuckers. And this is a strong adaptation of the book / film / whatever, but it hews close to what made Tomas Alfredson's 2008 film work and so its strengths become, for some, also weaknesses. This gives you much of the same impact but also retreads the same snow and blood into the same ground.

As in John Ajvide Lindqvist's book, bullied young Oscar meets a mysterious girl, Eli, who turns out to have an aversion to sunlight and a thing for blood. The setting - or at least the accents - are Scottish this time, but it's still a slow-burning story about a desperate need for connection as much as it is a horror or a thriller. The book has already been adapted for the screen twice, with Matt Reeves' 2010 Let Me In following the storming Swedish film. Even the US remake was, against all the odds of such things, very strong - but then it too cleaved close to the book's story, and the book is utterly terrific.

Putting the tale onstage, then, is a no-brainer, and this adaptation by Jack Thorne is a clever and a careful one. One snow-covered set provides the backdrop for all the action, with bare birch tree trunks providing a background and a snow-covered climbing frame the only other permanent piece of set. It's a dark and sparse look that manages to reflect much of the feel of the book, stripped to the essentials. A few equally spare elements are added as needed: a sofa, a bed, a row of lockers.

Martin Quinn plays Oskar; he's clearly not 12, but he nails the body language of the uncertain young boy and his lust for vengeance against his bullies, and is often quietly funny in his awkwardness. Rebecca Benson, as Eli, adopts an unsettlingly sing-song delivery that works well to display her alienness but becomes mildly irritating as the show goes on, yet she also communicates the decades of hurt and layers of wariness that smother Eli. The rest of the cast exchange roles nimbly, and they all work hard to hit the emotional beats hard, leaving both Oskar and Eli increasingly isolated from everyone around them and increasingly dependant on one another.

The plot is streamlined somewhat: the alcoholic trio of Lacke, Jocke and Virginia have been lost (Jocke's still vamp-meat, but Lacke's role is taken by a police officer), and Hakan's brief tenure as a vampire has been cut out (as it was in the films, if memory serves). The time period also seems a little compressed; there's no question here of bodies popping up after a long winter under the ice, perhaps because Scottish weather doesn't allow for it in quite the same way as Sweden's climate.

But any extra time gained by losing characters is used instead for interpretive dance. Call me a philistine, but generally speaking if I wanted ballet I'd go to the damn ballet. The dancing does effectively communicate the idea of, say, a search of the woods, and it comes in handy late on, but it also provokes a certain urge to eyeroll that is never desirable. Still, I am fully willing to acknowledge that that is a matter of personal preference rather than serious condemnation.

The biggest problem with this play for fans of either film or book is over-familiarity with the material. I have seen both films and read the book (possibly more than once), and most self-respecting film fans will, I suspect, have seen at least one film already. This adaptation is another fine take on a fine book, but it is not essential for those who already know their Oskar and Eli.

Login or register to comment.


1 lazarou101
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2014, 13:45
Finally! I've been quite surprised at the rave reviews. I like the screen version of Let The Right One In, I don't love it like a lot of people do, and for me Rebecca Benson's performance on the stage was brutal. By the second half of the show her line delivery set my teeth on edge to the point where I just wanted to leave.
It gets by on the strength of it's solid source material and, frankly, if you want to immerse yourself in this tale there are three far superior ways of doing it.

2 Mpyrereader
Posted on Friday April 11, 2014, 12:24
Thanks for writing about this - I was thinking about going to see it but maybe not now. I remember too much dancing about spoiling Frankenstein.

3 gumphd
Posted on Sunday April 13, 2014, 10:59
Nice to see this review pop up - I was wondering if you'd been to see it, Helen... I agree with most of your points here, although I think Rebecca Benson's voice/line delivery is as divisive as the use of dance... I didn't have a problem with either, in fact the use of physical theatre and dance between scenes combined with that wonderful score helped convey and create the perfect tone for the piece (and, as you hinted, the finale would have pulled the audience completely out of the world that had been created, if we had not already become acclimatised to this interactive style). As for Eli's voice, I thought it was perfect for the character, although I confess that the friend I went with was as similarly frustrated by it as you... I've since recommended it to a few people - and no complaints yet!

Log in below, or register to post comments
Remember Me:


Empire States (444)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


The 9 Most Terrifying Things At Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights
By James Dyer

Screen To Stage: The Hobbit Stars
By Helen O'Hara

Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love
By Helen O'Hara

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
By Ali Plumb

Pete Docter And Jonas Rivera Talk Pixar's Inside Out
By James White

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
By Dan Jolin

H. R. Giger: An Empire Tribute
By Ian Nathan

How Edible Cinema Finally Allows You To Eat A Movie
By Ali Plumb

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
By Helen O'Hara

Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?
By Ben Kirby


Chinese Propaganda Is Hitting Hollywood
"Purchase Reverbnation Plays"  tofifi808
Read comment

50 Shades Of What Now?
"Just thought I'd return to this as FSOG is now out at cinemas. I haven't read the books or seen the "  Cookiedough
Read comment

8 (Possible) Reasons John Carter Bombed At The Box Office
"The trailer gave me the feeling that this would be something of a 6+ family movie. And a guy on an e"  my5p
Read comment

Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love
"Have just re-watched this twice over the past few weeks and forgot how fantastic it was. I'm now des"  fire_and_water5025
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"This looks unbelievably good... wish I could afford to go!"  Roo
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Nice to know Martin enlisted another author to help in his world-building. Time to get acquainted wi"  Imperion
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
" The original Hogwarts section and what was duelling dragons (has now"  Sexual Harassment Panda
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Actually i recomend The Foucault Pendulum for several reasons, in the first place it explores the es"  andresfelipeurb
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"A great sneak peek, Ali. Aside from your confusion as to where Diagon Alley/King's Cross and Hogsmea"  bruciebonus
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"im due to go in October this year and having been before, i can honestly say i cannot wait. I agree "  kopite
Read comment


Movies’ Most Quotable Lines

'It's Just A Bit Of Fun': Why Defensive Fans Are Bad News For Movies

Competitive Geek Baiting: Or, How To Start A Fanboy Fight

The Avatar Backlash: Evaluatin' The Hater-atin'

The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches

Your Favourite Animated Film

Note To Hollywood: How To Get People To Switch To Blu-Ray

Food For Thought

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments

Just The Facts, Ma’am

Damon Wise (299)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (87)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

Denis Villeneuve Talks Sicario
On his cartel thriller and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel

Tomorrowland: The Viewing Guide
Brad Bird talks through his sci-fi adventure, scene by scene

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)