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Review: LET ME IN

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Vampires.  They have been a hot topic (no pun intended) the past few years.  With the unfortunate popularity of the Twilight film adaptations and television adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse books from Charlene Harris in the HBO show True Blood, vampires seem to be the new popular villain – like zombies a few years back. Two years ago, I saw a Swedish film called Let the Right One In at the local film festival and fell in love with its rather subdued nature.  It was story about friendship and touched on the coming of age subject of love and interest in the opposite sex.  It was also a story about a young person needing blood to survive.  After the success of Let the Right One In, it was inevitable to remake the film for American audiences.  When I initially heard about the remake, I was up in arms.  I was mad.  I loved the original and new that the tone would more than likely not be duplicated.  However, Matt Reeves does bring some interesting things to the table.

If you are not familiar with the novel or its previous adaptation by director Tomas Alfredson, it is pretty by much the same in this American remake except the names have changed.  We are introduced to a socially awkward child named Owen (previously named Oskar) who is constantly bullied by his male classmates.  Shortly after the introduction of Owen, a young girl named Abby (previously named Eli) moves next door to Owen and a friendship forms.  Meanwhile, murders are occurring and one of them happened to be a former classmate – which is how Owen becomes aware to it.o  It is then learned that Abby needs blood to live and that these murders seem to have begun as soon as Abby and her father figure, played by Richard Jenkins, move in.

People who admire the quiet delivery of the previous adaptation might be put off by this film’s loud delivery.  However, I’m happy to say that the performances from the children in this remake and the direction by Matt Reeves are exceptional. There is one scene in the film that will have most movie geeks and maybe even general audiences talking about it after it is over.

Let Me In opens introduces a character, a detective, that was not in the original novel or it’s Swedish adaptation by director Tomas Alfredson who is played by Elias Koteas. My only issue with this was the fact the majority of this remake highlights and focuses on the children. Granted., that is the way it should be.  However, with this new version, you do not receive the same tragic feeling you received with the caretaker of the Abby character.  That is where the book and the original adaptation excel ahead of this film.  Koteas’ character is just there, just like Jenkins’ character which is unfortunate, but not that damaging to the overall film, as this is a story about Abby and Owen.

The film is beautifully shot and the direction is top notch.  The performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee & Chloe Moretz are what really carry the film.  Many people will mention the – soon to be infamous – car sequence, but don’t get the wrong idea that the film is full of visual gimmicks.  The drama is still there.  If you never saw Let the Right One In, this film is for you.  If you have seen it before, just know that you may or may not like this version better.  I saw it divide some fans at Fantastic Fest this year.

I is movie geek. Hear me rawr. Ok, time for the professional speak. I have always been a movie geek. For serious. My dad fed me on a healthy diet of Blade Runner & Clockwork Orange. My mother introduced me to horror & psychological thrillers like Rosemary's Baby & Robert Wise's The Haunting. These mere morsels of celluoid only whet my appetite. During my teenage years, you could find me searching for the next Full Moon pictures joint on the old VHS shelves. I dug through the archives of backwoods slashers of the 80's and ate spaghetti with the Italian maestros by the flavors of Bava, Argento & Fulci. Now, I have reached the lower realms of depravity by thinking that Cannibal Holocaust is required viewing & running a weekly podcast, DESTROY THE BRAIN!, covering horror & genre film. Hmmm, I'm going to stop while I'm ahead. Favorite Films: Halloween (1978), La Haine, Vertigo, Rosemary's Baby, Fight Club, Nightmare on Elm Street, Kidnapped (Rabid Dogs), The Blair Witch Project..and the list just keeps growing.

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    October 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

    As a vampire and horror film connosieur, I was skeptical that this one would match up to the incredible original.

    I agree with your evaluation that the “Policeman” charachter is “just there” but while watching the film I realized something that I don’t think many others did.

    “The Policeman” is Owen’s absent father. Do you remember when Owen calls his father late at night and asks him “if he believes in evil”?

    If you listen carfeully to the voice on the other end of the line, you’ll hear that it’s the voice of the policeman. Also, the last scenes where the policeman discovers Abby in the tub. He turns around as Owen screams and you can see a look of recognition on his face and he starts to say something to him right before being attacked by Abby.

    Also, as Abby is feeding on him, he reaches out to Owen, and Owen goes to reach back but decides he can’t, and he just closes the door.

    This is something that I think is very relevant to the story, but that seemed to fly under the radar in a “The Book of Eli” type fashion.

    Overall, this film is a 4/5, and I highly recommend it. I myself will be going to see it on the big screen one more time before it hits DVD.

  2. Travis Keune

    October 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    The acting was great, and the direction was pretty good, but its difficult to fully appreciate this version having seen the original. LET ME IN does very little to make itself its own film, with many scenes being near carbon copies. I especially found myself distracted and disappointed by the terrible CGI effects added into Abby’s attack scenes. I give it 3/5 stars… and that’s being generous.

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