Adapting Let The Right One In For TV Called For A Major Change In Setting

When you think of the acclaimed vampire story "Let the Right One In," what do you remember? Body parts strewn across a swimming pool? A kid vampire's tummy growling with thirst — not for juice boxes, but for blood? Tomas Alfredson's 2008 coming-of-age horror film calls to mind a lot of evocative images and feelings, but the most indelible one might be snow. The movie, and the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist on which it's based, are both set in the icy winter landscape of Sweden, where blood stands out against the bright white snow.

The new Showtime version of the saga, though, transports the story of a vampire child, her human-harvesting father, and the neighbor boy who catches her attention. Instead of taking place among the snowbanks of Sweden, the series is set in New York City and the surrounding area, where dutiful, murdering father Mark (Demián Bichir) can stalk prey in urban tunnels and transport blood bags in streets that are too crowded for anyone to notice. The loneliness of girl vampire Ellie (Madison Taylor Baez), though, feels even more acute when she ends up cooped up in a city known for its liveliness.

Series showrunner Andrew Hinderaker spoke to Awards Radar about the series and explained why it was important to move the story to the Big Apple for the series' ten-episode first season. Hinderaker tells the outlet that the New York setting "allows for a larger scale of storytelling," adding, "New York City offers a microcosm for this country and a microcosm for the world." While the original film version of "Let the Right One In" was more lyrical than explicit in its philosophies, the new series obviously has a lot on its mind, addressing issues with policing, addiction, and more.

Modern vampires of the city, literally

"When we're exploring questions of how we treat one another, how we can save one another, or conversely, how we can prey on one another, it's just the perfect environment to explore those themes, opening the story up and yet preserving the beautiful winter world that is essential to this story," Hinderaker says. The familiar setting is extremely relevant to this version of the story, as the series explains just how Ellie and Mark have attempted to live under the radar despite her vampirism. When the series begins, they've just moved back to New York City, confident that a string of seemingly unrelated killings will help disguise their own bloody habits.

Hinderaker says that core relationship was another aspect of the story he wanted to focus on. The novel especially takes a much more disturbing approach to its caretaker-vampire relationship, as the vampire Eli's non-parental helper is a pedophile. The new series couldn't be more opposite: Mark is Ellie's real dad here, and his paternal love motivates much of the series' action. While Hinderaker says he loved the novel and movie, he wanted to do something different with the duo. "I also thought there was a chance to take the story in a slightly different direction by focusing on the relationship between our child vampire and her caretaker who in our series is her father," he told Awards Radar. "That felt like just an extraordinary opportunity to explore the question of what a parent would do for a child."

"Let the Right One In" airs Sundays on Showtime, with new episodes streaming Friday on the Showtime app and website.