Sunday, May 22, 2011

DVD - Let Me In *mild spoilers*

or: That Let the Right One In remake.

One word to sum it up: Surprising.

Growing up is hard. You go to school, and suddenly you are surrounded by people who are all competing to be the best. There are those cliques who like to show that they're the best, and they're happy making everyone else miserable. They never spare one thought for their victims and they see bullying as something that will make them cooler. But what's life like on the other side? Let Me In's protagonist, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) shows exactly that. He would put on a mask and make these fellas beg for mercy, but of course, he's a little too scared. So instead, he suffers in silence, and when he's not at school he's living with his mother in an apartment block in New Mexico, hoping that he might have enough courage to stand up to his tormentors. One day, he comes across a new neighbour, Abby (Chloe Moretz), a young mysterious girl who seems to have a heater installed inside her, because she walks around in the snow with bare feet. Along with her comes an older man (Richard Jenkins), which leads Owen to wonder about what this young girl is. The pair strike up a friendship, and Abby becomes something similar to a mentor to Owen. All the while there have been a few unexplained murders going on around town and Owen discovers that his new friend - however good she might be for his confidence - isn't all she seems.

Now, you're probably expecting me to spend the rest of the review comparing this to Let the Right One In. I thought I would too. But I have very few things to say about that. First of all, you probably know that the original is my ninth favourite movie of all time. I absolutely love it to bits. So naturally, unless Let Me In burst out of my screen and made a pretty fireworks display outside of my house, I wasn't going to like it as much. In fact, I was adamant that I would hate it. I thought the Americans would, well, tarnish it with their American-ness. Alas, this did not happen. Everything was kept slow and restrained, as beautiful as ever. The only things that bugged me in the way of comparison is the fact that I'm so used to this film being in Swedish that I got pissed off that they were speaking in a language I could understand.

Let Me In does the inevitable, though: it improves on the original. This film starts in the middle of the story when Abby's 'father' is in hospital, and then centres the film around that scene. They also bring in a cop, played by the ever-brilliant Elias Koteas, which brings the story fluidity, even if it reduces the role of Virginia (Sasha Barrese) and her boyfriend, slightly. Let Me In also cleans the story up, as it doesn't have all of the strange subplots coming out of it. It just picks a point and it runs straight for it. I imagine, if I saw Let Me In before Let the Right One In, then I may actually find myself gravitating towards this version much more, but I don't imagine I would have been as taken by it as I was taken by the original. I still love my Let the Right One In to death, and nothing can take that away from me.

The vampire genre has become something of a phenomenon, ever since they started sparkling in the sun and going to school like old Edward Cullen. Now, those Twilight fans are looking for every blood-sucking fragment of air they can find. Unfortunately, they'll be disappointed by Let Me In, as it's as slow as anything. Well, sorry guys, but this is the way a vampire movie should be. Abby is evil trapped in an innocent facade, not a bloody wimp stuck in a wimpy facade. She's 12 years old, the ripe age when kids start learning more about themselves and start to become more wary of who they are because they are trying so hard to find their feet. Well imagine being stuck in that exterior for 400-odd years? Having to see people live the life that was given to them, while you stay paused in reality? Not only that, the only way of surviving is at the expense of others? Let Me In does a brilliant job of portraying that, really getting into the psychology of being a vampire. Which is why it isn't like all of the other vampire movies. It's just a movie about being different, and having to deal with it, in whatever way possible.

Matt Reeves is obviously being faithful to being a wonderful tale of friendship with a supernatural theme rather than being a movie supernatural movie with a bit of friendship. He keeps things as beautiful as they ever were, with long, lingering shots that prove that the film hasn't been made just to give gore and guts fans a good time. However, he definitely remembers the fact that this is still a horror, and there is a lot of blood. Abby, as cute as she seems, is terrifying when he goes into full vampire mode. Her eyes glowing while her face loses colour and has blood dripping from everywhere is enough to give me nightmares. One scene that works really well is the scene where Virginia catches on fire due to sunlight. One minute, she's sucking on her own blood (a sight which is haunting my dreams at the moment), the next, she's turned the whole room into a sea of flames. There are plenty of genuinely scary moments, just like this one, which are hard to shake after watching the movie.

Last, but not least, the performances are absolutely brilliant. Kodi Smit-McPhee continues to impress with his performance as creepy loner Owen. He just looks like the type of boy who would be bullied, and isn't the kind who could possibly stand up for himself. He does the fragile thing really well, and holds really nice chemistry with his co-star Chloe Moretz. With this film, Moretz confirms herself as not only a very capable young actress, but probably the most exciting we've seen in a long time. Her performance in this is absolutely amazing. I don't know how she played such a tortured soul so well at just her age, but I have to admit defeat to jealousy. Richard Jenkins, too, is great, even though he only has a small part. I personally think that his character is the most interesting, considering he is the one who has to commit most of the evil for Abby since she is too young to be anything but innocent, and Jenkins brings this emotional integrity to the role which is absolutely great. But considering 85% of this films success comes down to a pair of young actors, it does extremely well for itself, and makes for a wonderful adaption/remake.

THE VERDICT: Fans of the original need not worry: Let Me In doesn't tarnish that film in any way. It's scary, beautiful and haunting, which is exactly what a vampire movie needs to be.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. I thought it was fantastic. Respectful to the source material, thrilling and scary. There are several memorable scenes and Kodi Smit-Mcphee is amazing! I'm really glad you liked it. It was in my Top 15 from last year!

  2. It was really good...I agree with your belief that if one had watched this earlier, they may gravitate towards it more. One of the things I liked in this one, which was only hinted in LTROI was how Owen would end up like the Richard Jenkin's character...about how doomed their relationship is.
    The performances were great too.
    Great review :)

  3. Nice post! I was avoiding this because of Hollywood's horrible track record with remakes. But now I may reconsider.

  4. I knew you wouldn't be disappointed!
    Still, that's probably the biggest "what I hoped for/what I got" gap I've ever seen on your blog.

    Anyway, as I said before, I'm in the minority that thinks this is better than the original.
    But maybe that's because the original did not impress me as much, and while I thought it was still a good film it was rather flawed, but Let Me In gets rid of many of those flaws.

    Great review, I'm glad you liked it!

  5. i agree. though i haven't seen the original, i thought this was very well dne. as you pointed out, at its core this movie is about being anoutcast and haing to cope with it. i thought it was really quite good.

  6. I just did a review of both films, and because of my firm love for Let the Right One In, I felt a little disappointed with Let Me In. In reality I knew it was great, but the little things that turned out so differently (like the pool scene) ruined it for me. I would probably have a completely different perspective if I watched Let Me In first, but since I didn't, I'm siding with LTROI. However, you like both films a lot more than I do.

  7. Andy - This would probably make my Top 15 too. But then again, it probably wouldn't, because since I actually did my Top 10 for 2010, I've seen some amazing 2010 movies which are better than half the movies I put on there.
    Kodi Smit-McPhee was brilliant in this. He's going to be huge in the future, that's for sure!

    Nikhat - That's what I loved about this movie! That theme of Owen becoming Abby's next father is beautifully done, and it really gets you thinking.
    This review is a little longer than usual, but thanks :)

    Bonjour Tristesse - Consider this one of their better remakes!

    Jack - That gap is rather large, isn't it? I pretty much hated this film before I saw it.
    I see where you are coming from, Let Me In really does tidy up a lot. But Let the Right One In is a movie which I absolutely love, because it is so well-made, and it's really beautiful. The story, in itself, is absolutely brilliant.

    Candice - The story is brilliant, and the film does really well with it. It's very good.

    magnoliaforever - I saw your review! Really well done! I was disappointed with Let Me In, in a way, too. The little things bugged me, especially because they weren't speaking Swedish and the music wasn't as good. Also, I've gotten so used to the original that it was weird seeing all of these different people in those roles. But I judged the film on it's own merits, and it was really great.

  8. The only things that bugged me in the way of comparison is the fact that I'm so used to this film being in Swedish that I got pissed off that they were speaking in a language I could understand.

    Now that's something you don't hear every day.

    I actually agree with Jack in thinking this version was a little bit better. Mostly it's because they discarded the "sex change" backstory involving the vampire. Not that I have any problem with that sort of thing. But in this case, it added nothing to the original. In fact, management at my old video store temporarily removed our copies after a bizarre incident where a customer had mistakenly labeled the movie as child pornography. After some lobbying, I helped convince them to put it back on the shelves.

    Very nice review!

  9. Ha, I felt weird thinking that...but there it is!

    Yeah, the fact that the sex change thing is missing definitely makes it better. As I said, Let Me In tidies the original up a lot, but I still like the original a lot more.

    Wow, that's an interesting story! We had LTROI for about 5 months before someone stole it :(


  10. I actually like this one more than the original and I wasn't quite as enamored with the original as most are. I think it cut out a lot of the unnecessary subplots of the original that didn't add up to much for me.

  11. I get where you are coming from. It was a very good effort!


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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