Making its debut this weekend on HBO was last year’s child vampire tale, “Let Me In”.
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) and Chloë Moretz (“Kick Ass”), “Let Me In” is a remake of the 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In”, which was released here stateside on DVD and Blu, and earned quite a reputation for itself as a great horror movie.
As is Hollywood’s wont to do, they took the original and remade it for American audiences with an English speaking cast.
“Let Me In” tells the story of a bullied, troubled young boy being raised by his mother. Owen (Smits-McPhee) spends his time peeping on his neighbors and acting tough in the mirror. When a new girl, Abby (Moretz), moves next door, he’s hoping to make a new friend.
Only, Abby is much more than that.
She’s a vampire.
The movie doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal treatment Owen is receiving from his classmates at the beginning of the film. He isn’t being teased bullied, or picked on bullied, he’s being beaten bullied. “Let Me In” doesn’t sugar coat the effect it’s having on him, either… it doesn’t play up the pity, or his innocence. Owen is a future school shooter waiting to happen, playing with weapons and stabbing trees. But his friendship with Abby emboldens him, and enriches his existence…
The two children meet at night on the snowy jungle gym of their apartment complex, and get to know each other. As best they can, at least, with such a big secret involved. They faithfully keep to their playground rendezvous and tap morse code to each other through the apartment walls at night after Owen needs to go in. A sort of a romance forms between the two that on the surface would be sweet, but… given the circumstances is actually a bit sick. You see, as a Vampire, Abby isn’t twelve. She’s very, very old. This isn’t a sweet little girl. She’s an undead monster. Yet you get the feeling that she needs Owen as much as he needs her. She has longings, too.
And that’s the heart of the story… two children forming a touching a bond. Only one of them is not a child.
The movie interweaves the efforts that Abby’s “Father” goes to in order to keep her fed. He hunts for victims, as a serial killer might, draining them of their blood in order to bring it home to her for food. The less she has to go out, the less at risk she is.
The movie builds to an intense and satisfying climax, definitely a payoff worthy of the high quality set-up.
Like the original, the emphasis here is placed on character and atmosphere, interspersed with moments of intense and shocking violence. Throughout it all, there’s a creepy, twisted tone seeping through. The two young stars do a great job together. They’re both excellent. The film maintains the sick undercurrents of the original, and hits all the essential plot points. It does more than just reperform the story set in America, in English, though. It feels as if it’s its own film.
Regardless of your feelings on remaking foreign films, “Let Me In” is a model for how to do it properly.