on Mood

Remakes are always interesting because they offer a clear glimpse at how different directors interpret and present source material. Of particular note are Let the Right One In and Let Me In, which were released just two years apart. Let the Right One In is a Swedish film based on a Swedish novel of the same (translated) name and Let Me In is an American film adapted from both. After watching both, one particular difference struck me.

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In

While there are several minor changes in setting, story, and staging for key moments, I noticed how much the color and tone of the cinematography sets apart the mood in each film. Right One maintains a cool/neutral tone throughout the film for both interiors and exteriors. It also features fairly high ambient light levels for a lower contrast image without too many strong shadows. Conversely, Me features much higher contrast and deeper shadows, along with strong orange & teal tones. While the lighting is still soft, it is more motivated by practical sources.

Let Me In

Let Me In

These different tones in the imagery really set the moods of these films apart. Me has an overall look similar to what you typically expect of an American horror film. The strong contrast and low lighting give the feeling of something hiding in the shadows waiting to strike. However, I think the mood in the cinematography sets an expectation of horror and reinforces the dark tone of the story a little too much. In a way, it just seems typical. Right One doesn’t look like a horror film, but the story is just as dark. The color and lighting of the cinematography are not suggesting that anything is hidden. I think this allows the mood of the film to be even darker and more unsettling because it is not immediately apparent in the visuals. The cinematography in each film serves the story well, but I prefer how Right One uses mood in a slightly inharmonious way to let the darkness of the story stand on its own.