US Release Date: 10-01-2010
Directed by: Matt Reeves
- Kodi Smit-McPhee, as
- Chloe Grace Moretz, as
- Richard Jenkins, as
- The Father
- Cara Buono, as
- Owen's Mother
- Elias Koteas, as
- The Policeman
- Sasha Barrese, as
- Dylan Kenin, as
- Chris Browning, as
- Ritchie Coster, as
- Mr. Zoric
- Dylan Minnette as
This is the remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In. Nearly every scene is reshot, with only a few exceptions. Owen's dad is shown in the original, while here he is only a voice on the telephone. All of the killings remain, while the odd nude scene does not. If you have seen one version, you have seen the other.
Like the original, this one takes place in winter, only it is set in New Mexico. Owen is a lonely boy going through the divorce of his parents. He is picked on at school by bullies. One night in the apartment court yard he meets a 12 year old looking vampire girl, Abby. His neighbors start getting killed off while he and the vampire seem to develop a friendship.
This version copies the style of the original, with a few changes. It takes place in 1983. One scene features not one, but two Culture Club songs. Nothing screams Mid 80's like Boy George. The biggest difference visually, is how the killings were filmed. Every time Abby attacks someone, it is done with CGI. Was this actually done with the decision to make the film better, or were the film makers being sensitive to the 13 year old actress?
The one aspect that really bugged me, is that it is all too clear when they used fake snow. As a vampire, Abby is not affected by the cold or snow so she walks around barefoot. All of the courtyard scenes seemed to be filmed on a set. Another flaw is when Abby kills in the tunnel outside. A jogger stops to see her and his heavy breathing is clear in the cold air. When Abby talks it is faint but her breath can be seen as well? I thought she did not have a body temperature as established by her bare feet in the snow?
I know, it is a vampire movie, and you may think I am nitpicking, but when a movie does something to remind me that I am watching a movie, the fantasy is ruined. The biggest improvement this film made, for me, was that it was made in English. Do not get me wrong, I love foreign films, and have reviewed many on this site. I just really hate subtitles. I always think that I am missing something on the screen by having to read the dialogue, instead of watching the actors as closely as I usually would.
Let Me In, like the original, is old fashioned when it comes to vampire lore. They can be killed in daylight, and are only allowed in your house if you let them in, hence the title. Her relationship with Owen is not at all like the ones found in Twilight, True Blood or Vampire Diaries. She seduces Owen on a whole other level, making her twice as smart as those vampires and in my opinion, twice as evil.
Would you let Abby in?
I haven’t seen the original Swedish version but definitely enjoyed this movie. The story is intriguing and draws you in. I liked the fact that it was set in 1983 as I was a teenager then and the soundtrack really took me back to that time in my life. Let Me In is shot in a visually interesting style although the few uses of CGI look a bit fake, especially when Abby is climbing that tree.
The scene in the pool (which was apparently copied from the Swedish original) is itself an homage to a famous scene in the 1940s horror classic Cat People. In all three movies quick edits and the brilliant use of shadows compensates for obvious budget limitations. Sometimes less is more when it comes to screen scares.
The two young actors at the heart of this movie deserve much credit. Kodi Smit-McPhee looks like a cherubic-boy-version of Liza Minnelli with his big dark expressive eyes and pouty lips and Chloe Moretz continues her career playing bad ass characters (she was Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass) as the vampire Abby. I have never seen a young girl play such unapologetically violent characters before.
The question of Abby’s gender is never fully explained. She keeps telling Owen that she is not a girl. I assumed that meant because she was a vampire. After reading my brothers’ reviews for Let the Right One In I see that there is more to it than that. Is she/he a hermaphrodite? The movie isn’t clear, and what exactly is the point of that plot device anyway? Were they afraid Abby wasn't an interesting enough character already?
Let Me In is a cross between a vampire horror movie and an after-school special about bullying (think Fright Night meets That's What I Am). The ending certainly leaves room for a sequel, which I would be more than happy to see. I guess I will have to look for the Swedish version as well.
Photos © Copyright Hammer Film Productions (2010)