LET ME IN
***1/2 (out of 5)
October 1, 2010
Kodi Smit-McPhee as OWEN
Chloe Grace Moretz as ABBY
Richard Jenkins as THE FATHER
Elias Koteas as THE POLICEMAN
Dylan Minnette as KENNY
Studio: Overture Films
Directed by: Matt Reeves
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In the midst of all this “Twilight” nonsense a couple years ago, a modest little Swedish film got an international release. That movie was “Let the Right One In,” and it told a very different vampire romance story, garnering it widespread praise and raising quite a few eyebrows in the states.
Now, that film has been given and English-language remake: “Let Me In.” The story follows a twelve-year-old boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is being bullied at school. As he deals with his parents broken marriage and a lack of friends and social skills, he befriends a new girl name Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) in his apartment complex. However, he soon learns that mysterious murders in the area are her doing, as she is a vampire that needs blood to survive.
While I didn’t think “Let the Right One In” was one of the best films of the year, I enjoyed it and appreciated a rather faithful look at a vampire as a monster. I also liked how it gave a different take on the vampire romance and examined the moral relativism of that creature.
This remake is fiercely faithful to the original, almost to a fault. In fact, there are moments in which you could swear that the filmmakers used the same set. This both helps the film and gives it several challenges. It helps by keeping the source material as pure as possible.
There are times when the movie breaks with the original Swedish version, and that’s usually when there’s a problem. Director Matt Reeves debuted with “Cloverfield,” which by its very nature was a frenetic, purely American film. He seems to be overcompensating with “Let Me In” by drawing out his shots too much and letting the film breathe to the point of hyperventilating.
When he does differentiate, it’s usually to do the expected Hollywood thing and go bigger. We see this with the vampire effects, which largely happen off-screen or very subtly in the original, but in “Let Me In,” things are either overdone with CGI or go too big. Not every deviation is problematic. Many of the scenes of the vampire’s father, who must hunt for blood, are gussied up a bit, and those actually look pretty good.
But it’s the poorly animated CGI of the vampire attacking her victims where things really break down. Just because CGI is available doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
But on the whole, “Let Me In” is creepy, eerie and a solid vampire thriller. It’s pretty violent, and actually more visceral and brutal than gory. There’s still plenty of blood, so just because it’s a story about twelve-year-olds doesn’t mean you should take one to see it. It hits almost every beat from the original film and shows that it is possible to remake a European thriller without selling out too much. Let’s just hope that the movie audiences agree with this.
Two additional things make “Let Me In” rather refreshing. First, it’s a relief to see someone making a vampire film that doesn’t present them as romantic heroes who sparkle in the sunlight and have angsty love yearnings for teenage girls a fraction of their ages. Also, it’s nice to see horror movies being released in October again. The double-bill of “Let Me In” and “Case 39” is a nice way to kick off the month of Halloween.