Hollywood Remakes of Swedish Films: The Good, the Bad, the Weird

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a definite advantage over other Hollywood remakes of Swedish films. David Fincher has proved himself to be one of the most reliable directors in the business, and the subject matter at hand in this English language adaptation of the Swedish film plays right into his strengths. Fincher will be following in the footsteps of some Hollywood remakes of Swedish films that have been, by turn, good, bad, and just plain weird.

The Good

Let the Right One In is, as I have already written, the greatest vampire movie ever made. The young Swedish girl who plays Eli turns in what is likely the greatest juvenile performance you will ever seen in a movie. The very idea of remaking this incredible Swedish film seemed like the essence of heretical stupidity, but a funny thing happened on the way to Hollywood. Let Me In comes nowhere close to being as groundbreaking as its inspiration, but in choosing to follow the lead and not try to improve upon it by making it into its own image, the remake succeeds in becoming the most intelligent horror film from Hollywood in a long, long time.

The Bad

Intermezzo is a Swedish film that made Ingrid Bergman a European movie star. The Hollywood remake made just a few years later under the same title made Bergman a Hollywood legend. Flash forward several decades and, for reasons that may never be fully understood, Hollywood remade this Swedish film as a vehicle for Willie Nelson. Nelson was experiencing a mainstream renaissance at the time and Honeysuckle Rose was created with the idea of turning him into a movie star. Instead, the film’s legacy is that it gave us the intensely annoying song “On the Road Again.” It is the poster child for worst American remake of a Swedish film ever.

The Weird

Ingmar Bergman is not only revered as one of the greatest film directors of all time, but a director with such a singularly unique vision that nobody else even comes close to resembling him. For this reason, the weirdest Hollywood remake of a Swedish film has to be the prototypical low-budget slasher extravaganza known as The Last House on the Left. Believe it or not, this bloody little introduction to what became a sub-sub-genre unofficially known as the rape revenge film is actually based on an Ingmar Bergman film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Of course, you’ll have to really dig deep and look closely to find any actual resemblance between The Virgin Spring and its low-budget slasher remake, but it is there.