Review — Let Me In

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Danny Moltrasi, Film, Reviews
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[Reviewed by: Danny Moltrasi]

“I’m a lot stronger than you think.”

Let Me In, was seen as the perfect example of a remake of a non-English speaking film that was utterly, utterly pointless. And to tell the truth, in many ways that point is still completely right. However, Let Me In and its director Matt Reeves have a film that balances keeping enough of the original theme and tones, while also going a small way to legitimize the film as a stand-alone piece of cinema. It is far from perfectly, and in my opinion not as good as the Swedish original, however it is still, in its own way, a good film, and a good piece of horror.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a bullied, lonely 12 year old boy whose life is turned upside down when a young girl called Abbey (Chloe Moretz) and her father move into the house next door to him and his mother. One night when Owen is pretending to fight back against his bullies in the courtyard playground, Abbey comes up to him, and initially warns him that the pair cannot be friends. However, over time the pair become good friends and meet in the courtyard at night often, with Owen sometimes taking her around the town. Abbey encourages Owen to fight back against his bullies, however her and her father are not what they may initially seem, as the father makes nightly trips to drain blood from innocent victims, in order to feed to Abbey, who is a vampire. As Abbey lets Owen more and more into her world, the truth of Abbey and her past is revealed to the lonely twelve year old, however they grow closer.

To start with, just like the original Swedish adaption, the tone of the film is perfect. Its slow, calm and concerns itself with exploring the relationship of the two children rather than on violence and gore. This is a story about to children becoming friends, Abbeys truth just happens to be involved. This is what made the original stand-out in the horror genre, and this is the same reason that makes Let Me In stand out in Hollywood horror. There is blood, and there is sometimes lots of it, however it’s not overused and pointless. The film is slightly changed for the average Hollywood audience, with some of the vampire action pushed up earlier in the film, however this is a fairly minor change. Again, just like the original, the setting, light and cinematography is beautifully shot. It completely makes us forget that we are watching a vampire-flick, as the night scenes are wonderfully lit by the surrounding lights of the playground as snow slowly falls down onto the play pen. It really does make it stand out compared to the run-of-the-mill Saw or Final Destination franchises.

Although it does keep many of the positives of the original, it does fall into some of the same traps. Mostly, the surrounding characters, most frustratingly the bullies, are so stereotypical and two-dimensional, they are completely uninteresting. The scenes of bullying are only interesting because of the care and interest we have for Owen, who is so supremely acted by Smit-McPhee, who also starred in The Road. Another big, and rather personal gripe was the constant references to the 80s. Yes, it’s at times understandable, the Rubix cube for example plays an important part in the film, and yes, the film is set in the 80s, however we are constantly interjected with bits of popular music from the 1980s that stand out like sore thumbs in the film. Why, or why, is this done? This is a film that has set itself up as soft, melancholy movie, which is suddenly interrupted by Culture Club. Twice. There are other examples of this, and it is not that the music is always bad, it is just so out of place. The classical original score is also at times guilty of trying to force tension when it was not needed. I personally would have considered having no, or a very limited score, but what do I know, I’m not the director. It also seemed to me to pull back from the darker aspects of the sexual confusion that is found in the original film, and I imagine the book it is based on (although I have not read it, so this is an assumption). In Let Me In, Abbey constantly drops hints that she is not a girl, whereas in the original we are given more of a suggestion that she is in fact a man. This adds another layer of the sexual tension and confusion that the rest of the film perfects.

Either way, the film is good, and stands head and shoulders above the rest of Hollywood horror of the recent past, albeit, not the hardest achievement in what is arguably one of its weakest genres. I personally would still rather sit down and watch the original film, however Let Me In is not that far behind it, and can still consider itself a successfully made film, and one that pretty much stands up well on its own.

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Comments
  1. Martin says:

    I’m happy this was reviewed. I love the original. One of the few horror films in recent memory that believes in pacing and building suspense. This makes me want to check out the remake. It’s good to know that it’s not a complete failure, which was my expectation.

    • Eamonn Deane says:

      Good review. I also am a huge fan of the original film and was very worried when I heard it was being remade. I’m glad it seems to have kept the pacing and atmosphere of the original, it shows respect to the original. If they were to have overly dramatised the film it would have damaged the orignal’s legacy.

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