Thursday, September 30, 2010


       Matt Reeves latest film, Let Me In is a remake of the Swedish 2008 cult classic, Let the Right One In. Both are adaptations of the vampire fiction novel, of the same name, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The only reason the Reeves' iteration exists is because of the critical success of the original adaptation. Therefore, I refuse to discuss one with making mention of the other because so much of what the new film is, is indeed taken from the original. There will plenty of spoilers in the next few paragraphs, but if you've seen the original, there's nothing new here in terms of the spoilers I'm discussing.

        Let Me in is about a young boy named Owen played by newcomer Kodi Smith-McPhee. He's a loner who doesn't really have an adult figure in his life. His parents are separated and he lives with his Mother but she barely even speaks to him aside from when their at the dinner table. He also regularly gets bullied at school. This is where we find his character when a seemingly young girl named Abby comes into his life. Abby is a vampire, 12 years old "more or less." She also has a male companion who takes care of her. He goes out into the night and kills people for blood to bring home to Abby. So, the movie is essentially about their friendship and secondary to that is the story of the detective who is tracking the killings. The film paints a picture of the life of a vampire and how brutal, animalistic, exhausting and heartbreaking a life like that is. Aside from some visual flourishes in the beginning of the movie, it's pretty much a carbon copy of the original, in terms of cinematography.
          The original is loved by many, excluding me. And pretty much all the problems I had with the original eventually show up in this remake. At the beginning of the movie, it's evident that through visuals they're trying to express the fact that Owen's Mother isn't there for him. We never see her face. It's either out of focus or her back is turned while she's arguing on the phone with her (ex)husband. This was a nice idea but was done in a very noticeable way that just wasn't effective. Richard Jenkins plays Abby's guardian. He's a great actor but I felt like an lesser known actor should have been cast in the role because he just stood out to me. Also, throughout the movie they hint at the relationship between Abby and Jenkin's character and how it isn't what it seems. You assume it's her father but they allude that there may be something more to it. They do this in a very subtle way but then, late in the film, they pretty much completely spell it out for you ruining all the subtlety that was built upon prior to that. Back to Owen's character, he gets bullied by kids at school and he goes to Abby for help. She tells him to fight back which he does one day, to violent results. After the incident they give you reasoning for the bully's actions. He gets picked on by his older brother and so, in turn picks on others at school. This gives Owen pleasure but the scene also allows us to have some sympathy for the bully because we understand his actions. So, when they gratuitously murder the bully and his friends at the end of the movie, it makes me question the point of the earlier scene I just mentioned. I have no problem with them killing kids but the way the film seems to revel in the slaughter of them really rubbed me the wrong way. It's something that bugged me a lot in the original, as well. Also, the use of CGI whenever Abby fed, was extremely awkward looking and unnecessary.

       I know it sounds like I'm trying to pick on the film for the smallest of reasons but it all comes down to this. From a narrative standpoint, I just don't find the film all that compelling. Chloe Moretz and especially, Kodi Smith-McPhee turned in great performances but I just wasn't invested or all that interested in the plight of their characters. What I like about the film, is that it retained the "Indie" sensibilities that the original possessed. It's a slow and quiet film and I like that they didn't make it overblown which is what a remakes usually entails. Because of how slow it is, I don't think it's going to do well financially (plenty of people walked out of the screening I attended). Tonally, I like it more than its original counterpart because the original had one or two comedic aspects that felt out of place in a film as serious as Let The Right One In. But if you liked the original, I don't see how you wouldn't like this. It sticks to what made the original good and it adds enough to the formula to keep it from being your typical retread. It's just a film that, for many reasons, didn't work for me. But I'll be in the minority there, just like I was with the original.


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