Now showing on cable: “Let Me In”

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.

A-

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19 thoughts on “Now showing on cable: “Let Me In”

  1. Loved the original, but I stayed away from the remake. I suppose since it’s on Netflix and you gave it such a good rating, I may have to check it out.

    • If you can let go of the “Comparison Game”, its worth it.

      The original is better, it was moodier. Less “Major Motion Picture-ey” too.

      I’d give the original an A+, I love that flick. What a sick little piece of work that one is…

    • I agree with Brikhaus… if you’ve seen the original, why see an American remake, just because most Americans are to lazy to see a sub-titled film. I feel the same way about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo re-make coming soon. The Office is another one I semi-boycotted. If you see these remakes, you only encourage tehm.

      • Well, one good reason is if you’re a movie blogger who does a weekly write up on the movies that premier on cable each week. LOL.

        I didnt see this in theatres, before I picked up the blogging thing.

        As to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Once I heard it was FINCHER doing it? With Daniel Craig? I avoided all prior versions so that my first experience would be the one he puts out.

        As to foreign remakes in general, I dont know if it’s laziness or xenophobia, or the fact that hey, most people aren’t as up on movies as us internet movie hounds… but I’ve always said foreign movies should be fair game for remakes. I recognize that that leaves 2 of my top 10 vulnerable… but its easy enough to write off “The American Version” if it sucks.

  2. I too, am with Brikhaus. I really love the original. It quickly moved to one of my top horror movies and so I really never even thought about watching the remake. However, your review has convinced me to give it a shot.

    • I thought it was good, I did.

      I don’t know how far out of my way I’d go for it if you’ve already seen the original. It’s different, and good… but it is essentially the same story, you know?

      That said, it was well done, so you’d probably like it.

  3. Well, it sounds like it’s at least a different take on the currently-over-saturated vampire movie genre (well, as different as a remake can be anyway). I might give it a shot sometime.

    As to the American-remake-of-foreign-film issue… sometimes I think it’s only logical to do so, for reasons of cultural mores (like I mentioned before with Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, most non-Japanese simply can’t catch the significance of all the little cultural moments). But even without that, I’m not opposed to it, and I don’t think it’s laziness to not want to read subtitles. Speaking only for myself, when you’re good enough with languages to pick up the rhythm of the speech and a few words out of it, but not good enough to really get it, listening to one language and reading another can create a bit of dissonance that really distracts from the overall work. I’m tempted to just mute the film entirely, but then I miss out on possibly-important sounds.

    On a side note, nice re-skinning of the blog for Halloween. Love the variety of characters in the banner.

    • Oh. Its definitely not your average Vampire movie. I think thats why people rave. I know thats why I loved it. Sick little flick, you know?

      Thanks on the banner! My photoshop skills are weak, but I can cut/paste!

      FYI: The “Let the Right One In” kids are sitting on either side of Count Chocula in the upper right corner. LOL. One of several little jokes I put in there to amuse myself! :D

  4. On my to-watch list. Saw Let the Right One in at the LFF last year and loved it. It really is a great film. Though I think it is pretty much a scene for scene remake.

    I did have my hands on the original. Sadly, it lacked subtitles!

  5. I thought remake was better maybe just because I can relate to how Matt Reeves and crew made the cultural references more American. And I guess it’s a scene for scene, the camera is tighter, the performances are breathier, a scene in the middle of the story was put in the beginning. Little things.

    • Yeah, its really a tough thing to call. A lot of the criticism that I’m seeing leveled at the remake was how closely it followed the original (of course, if it was too different it would have been criticized for that!). I think I would probably still pick the original because it was a bit moodier, but they’re actually very close.

      I think the audience wins with either one. You get a pretty sick little horror romance… something you dont get often!! :D

  6. Finished watching it this weekend. Not bad. Certainly not my favorite drama, horror flick. But it had its moments. I agree with most of what you said on the review of this flick. Didn’t know it had an European conter part. I would have given it a C+, but I can also see why you scored it higher. I was really watching it as a horror flick. Not a lot of vampire action going on here.

  7. Pingback: Movie Review: Matt Reeve’s Let Me In - Opinionless

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