Director – Matt Reeves
Cast – Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Dylan Minnette, Ritchie Coster, Sasha Barrese, Dylan Kenin, Chris Browning, Jimmy ‘Jax’ Pinchak, Nicolai Dorian, Rebekah Wiggins
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
When word broke out that Hollywood had plans to remake the amazing Swedish film Let The Right One In, one of the best films of last decade, the horror realm was in uproar. We had finally been given a very good modern day vampire tale that was basically Twilight done right, and Hollywood being Hollywood they had to cash in on the cult following of that incredible Swedish art house horror film. When I learned that the film was officially in fact greenlit I was saddened that we would most likely add our dumbed down taste to the film’s story, until Matt Reeves was given the role of director. I enjoyed his work on Cloverfield, which is one of the better recent giant monster films, and that helped me put some faith in Let Me In. Thankfully, I can confidently state that Let Me In is a solid remake and a great film in its own right, and while the story does not hit as hard as the original the tension and vampire action is raised well beyond my expectations.
Let Me In judiciously follows the same overall plot as Let The Right One In. Kodi Smit-McPhee(The Road) stars as Owen, a shy and lonely 12 year old boy constantly picked on at school by a trio of bullies. His divorced alcoholic mother is of no help despite her loving intentions, and his father can only be found at the receiving end of a phone call. One night a young and somewhat odd girl named Abby moves in next door to Owen, and despite their initial differences they soon befriend one another. Abby proves to be the one person in Owen’s life who can help him cope with the everyday troubles he endures, and Owen fills the same void in Abby’s life. Their tranquility soon becomes abrupt when Abby’s hidden desires come to light, desires that require the deaths of the innocent, and a huge sacrifice from Owen.
First off, let me state that from here on out I will do my best to stop referring to Let Me In as a remake. Why? Well, when you compare it to Let The Right One In alone then yes it is a remake, but when you consider that Let The Right One In is not original material, but in fact adapted from Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel of the same name, then Let Me In is also an adaptation of the novel, not necessarily a remake. Sure the idea to make this film came completely due to Let The Right One In’s excellence, but nonetheless I will give credit where credit is due, and the multitude of the credit belongs to the source material, the novel.
What really surprised me with this film was how un-commercial it came out. I was expecting the film to be dumbed down with the usual American antics, and while certain strong elements of the story were left out most likely to dumb things down for the public, I found mostly everything else in the film to be highly respectable for a Hollywood film. Matt Reeve’s screenplay is well-written, and he used most of the positive elements from Let The Right One In in this film. The bond and character play between Owen and Abby is well done, with excellent dialogue and well executed conflict at just the right times. I was really surprised with the usage of the bullies Owen faces. At times I felt that what was going on was a little overboard and used simply to shock people, until we come across a shocking revelation behind the actions of the lead bully, which throws the viewer for a twist of emotion and understanding. It was a well written scene that I felt did a lot for the film at the time, so bravo for that Matt Reeves. The rest of the characters thrown into the film are also used very well, especially Richard Jenkins(Step Brothers, The Broken, Wolf) as the “old man”. Those of you who have seen Let The Right One In know his purpose in the film, and those of you who have not need not worry because his purpose is equally enjoyable (and sad) in this watch. So how is the “love” element in this one? Well, the love element is equally as present as it is in Let The Right One In, although I feel that it does not hit as hard as the Swedish masterpiece. The love element is strong though, and well conceived in that it includes some added scenes I did not expect to see, although one very important risqué scene involving Abby(if you’ve seen Let The Right One In then you know what I am talking about) was obviously left out of at least this R-rated version, no word on if such a scene was filmed for a director’s cut.
The greatest aspect of this film is Matt Reeve’s direction, which was overly top notch. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the solemn yet beautifully shot atmosphere very much representative of the lives Owen and Abby lead, and from then on out Reeve’s very positive direction and execution never relents. His camerawork is amazingly engaging to the viewer, given us amazing bird’s eye views and even some point-of-view scenes that I found very creative as well. His execution during the film’s conflict and tension scenes is superb, and I highly doubt any fellow viewer in the movie theater was not moved by what went on at the hands of the bullies Owen faced. This was made even more awesome with the usage of Abby, who upped the ante in comparison to Let The Right One In in bringing on some sweet and gory (but not overly gory) kills, kills of the innocent…as well as those who deserve it. I personally loved the look of Chloe Moretz(Kick Ass, The Eye remake, Wicked Little Things, The Amityville Horror remake) during her transformation scenes, and I actually will admit that I found them pretty creepy. Reeves’ execution of her antics and mannerisms in her transformed state is excellent, and her voice…wow…very well done Mr. Reeves. One element I overlooked going into the film but highly appreciated was the incredible performances from each of the actors involved. Our leads Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz did well for such young actors, with Kodi Smit-McPhee taking the title of the best performance from all actors. I was very impressed with this young guy in The Road, and another solid performance should only help his chances of becoming a formidable actor and I hope he returns soon to the horror genre. Richard Jenkins gave a fantastic performance as the Old Man, and Elias Koteas(Shutter Island, The Fourth Kind, The Haunting In Connecticut, Zodiac, Fallen) was great although I felt he was not used to the best of his abilities. His character, the police investigator, was a bit too somber for my liking, however any other actor could have screwed up the role, but not Elias Koteas.
Overall, this is a fantastic film that seems to suffer the “remake” tag despite the original film being an adaptation itself, but nonetheless Let Me In stands as its own adaptation of the source material and with awesome results. We get fantastic direction from Matt Reeves, great performances by all, and a good story that despite being slightly dumbed down still manages to be unlike any Hollywood vampire film to come out in a very long time.