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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.41%
Worth A Look: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.88%

3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Let Me In
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Let The Right One In? That's Good Advice."
3 stars

Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In was the best vampire film to come along since perhaps Near Dark. Anyone who found themselves in the presence of the Swedish masterpiece were immediately hypnotized into an allegiance with it, especially in the wake of the insipid Twilight phenomenon. The film, which was as much a coming-of-age tale with darker adult themes as just another piece of vampire lore, was so well regarded it was immediately snatched up for an American remake. But with some promising catches to keep the cinephile purists at bay. Director Matt Reeves became attached, having just delivered his own superior spin on the giant monster film in Cloverfield. Both Reeves and the original's producer kept saying that the U.S. version will delve back into the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel and include many of the elements of the vampire's human relationships left out of Alfredson's film. Then the terrific Chloe Grace Moretz was perfectly cast as the young vamp and, all of a sudden, there was reason to believe this story was in capable hands. But while Let Me In is certainly well-made on its own, its adherence to almost being a direct copy of the beloved original with a few crucially damaging changes ultimately reveal this to be rather pointless for those already initimately familiar with it.

12 year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives with his mother in an apartment complex circa Winter 1983. The child of a separation, Owen spends his time away from being bullied at school by himself eating candy and harboring some dark thoughts about retaliating against his tormentors. One evening he sees a pair of new tenants moving in - a girl about his age whom he notices walking through the snow barefoot and her father (Richard Jenkins) doing all the heavy lifting. Her name is Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and, like Owen, she would rather spend time in the courtyard alone. She even tells him they cannot be friends.

Abby's father is also one who prefers to conduct business alone. Namely murdering people and collecting their blood for his daughter whom we will discover soon enough is a vampire and a lot older than twelve. Through their mutual appreciation of puzzles and an unspoken motivation from Abby, her and Owen do begin a friendship. With thin walls between their apartments, Owen teaches her morse code and Abby gives him advice on how to deal with bullies. She even offers her assistance, professing to be much stronger than she looks. Meanwhile, a cop (Elias Koteas) is investigating the string of attacks in the area and inching closer to Abby's front door.

To continue invoking the name of Let the Right One In might inspire one to believe that an allegiance to its perfectly rendered horror would sully any chance for Reeves' film to succeed on its own. Topping it is already a practical impossibility, but respect for its power could (and does) win Reeves points in the long run. If Kevin Smith taught us anything though it is that tracers do not deserve the same kind of respect as the original artist.

American film studios and producers are notorious tinkerers, so until Reeves comes out with a commentary on the DVD we can only speculate at who is to blame for the various changes which dampen the kind of impact and reward of multiple viewings that Alfredson's film delivered. Starting with the opening scene, a flashforward to a key scene for one of the characters, it was almost as if someone told Reeves the film needed to begin with a little fury so as to inform newbies that this isn't just going to be two kids getting to know each other for two hours. It's a giant and unnecessary miscalculation that spoils one of the more shocking moments that Reeves preludes later on with, admittedly, his best new contribution in a spectacular car wreck.

If you were to ask fans of their two favorite (and clearly most memorable) scenes from 2008 you would likely here "the swimming pool" and "the invitation." One of the best climaxes in any language didn't need any words and certainly left many of us speechless. Reeves ratchets up the brutality and the speed of the final sequence here to what seems like a quintessential over-edited piece of action filmmaking in a mostly otherwise deliberately paced picture. Most unforgivable of all though is the handling of Abby's uninvited entrance into Owen's home; a massive blunder that has to fall squarely on Reeves' shoulders. Gone is the prolonged shock of Abby's biological reaction to her decision, but also the implication of Owen taking on the role of the bully and for the first time in his life grasping a sense of power over another that he wields to almost catastrophic finality and relinquishes just as quickly. That is never conveyed here in a scene that, handled with grace and an understanding of Owen's arc, would be a showstopper instead of one that fails to live up to even the more aggressive title.

Making a stance for the inclusion of a pedophilia subplot does not make for a comfortable argument nor eventual viewing experience. As it was an aspect we were more than hinted towards expecting, the cold feet of leaving that behind (not to mention an infamous shot that added another layer to Abby's identity) loses Let Me In the potential to surpass its predecessor or, at the very least, become its own movie. Matt Reeves doesn't challenge the audience with such discoveries, instead drawing direct connections to who the father figure may have been and what Abby's true intentions with Owen might actually be. Let Me In is not an outright failure by any means. Reeves clearly shares the same appreciation of the original with its fans, gets good performances out of his cast (even if Jenkins seems very shortchanged by the pussyfooting around his character) and Greig Fraser's cinematography adequately captures the bleak contrast of the dead winter fertilized with the frigidity of Reagan's first term. It would be almost wrong to steer people away from Let Me In given their first chance to see this story told. If they choose to make Reeves' film the warmup, they can then turn to Let the Right One In and see what a superior version the original is in every way.

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originally posted: 10/01/10 14:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2010 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2010 series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell whiny & boring skip it 1 stars
3/04/12 Raven Very cook take on a vampire flick. Thinkin outside the box - we all need to be loved. 4 stars
2/09/12 David Hollingsworth A remake that is actually better than most 5 stars
10/20/11 Magic The best English vampire movie in ages. The result of remaking the superior Swedish movie. 4 stars
9/04/11 Ronin "worth a look" 4 stars
6/06/11 mikie not a patch on the swedish original 1 stars
3/29/11 mr.mike Surprisingly faithful to the original. 4 stars
3/10/11 art AN EXCELLENT FABLE!,PLEASE watch this MOVIE!,NO-MATTER what you do._ 5 stars
2/06/11 action movie fan good start but moves too slowly and seemes eneven 3 stars
2/02/11 othree Pieced together, lacking details, but not heart, young cast; good work 4 stars
10/29/10 Kim Kelly Not overly gory. The human bullying was more disturbing than the vampire. Enjoyed Moretz. 4 stars
10/14/10 Yal e Freedman Horror fans mark this one on your calendar. Both elegant and chockfull of gore, Let Me In i 4 stars
10/11/10 Flounder A very touching and affective piece of filmmaking. A breath of fresh air in a stale climate 5 stars
10/09/10 BKW Great acting. Fantastic, original story. 4 stars
10/06/10 millersxing The best vampire movie since the original (I feared the worst but got a decent movie.) 3 stars
10/02/10 Danko What Twilight COULD have been. (Awesome) 5 stars
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  01-Oct-2010 (R)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2011


  DVD: 01-Feb-2011

Directed by
  Matt Reeves

Written by
  Matt Reeves

  Kodi Smit-McPhee
  Chloe Moretz
  Richard Jenkins

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