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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 Rob Gonsalves

"If you liked the original..."
5 stars

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chlo Moretz are the best reasons to see "Let Me In," the new American remake of Sweden's 2008 "Let the Right One In", though they're not the only reasons.

Their performances as Owen, a bullied, scared 12-year-old, and Abby, a strange girl who's just moved next door to him, are delicate and beautifully calibrated. The movie itself which drops the original film's problematic cat-attack scene has not one discordant note in it. In some ways, Let Me In feels more like a European art-house film than the original did. You expect a Swedish film to brood quietly and disregard American mainstream attention spans. You don't expect a horror film playing in just over 2,000 theaters nationwide to follow suit. Am I saying that Let Me In trumps its predecessor? Let's say each film has its strengths; the American remake stands honorably on its own and, to these American eyes, boasts better acting. They're two excellent treatments of the same story. One just happens to be in English.

Director Matt Reeves did not begin his career auspiciously. His debut was not 2008's Cloverfield, as I'm sure he'd like you to believe, but the all-but-forgotten 1996 David Schwimmer vehicle The Pallbearer. Among other foibles, the film did not play like the Graduate riff it was pitched as; it was ineffably glum and dark. Such was the reception of The Pallbearer that Reeves did not direct again for twelve years, when longtime buddy J.J. Abrams (with whom Reeves had created TV's Felicity) handed him the keys to Cloverfield. I can say for certain now, thinking back on The Pallbearer through the prism of Let Me In, that Reeves has not only a talent but a taste for understated gloom.

The ads have spoiled it, so I'm not afraid to: Abby is not a normal girl. She travels with a much older man (Richard Jenkins), whom everyone takes to be her father, though she most likely has a few years on him. Abby is a vampire; she hungers for blood and nothing else she can't even hold down a bit of candy and her stomach growls and revolts painfully when she hasn't fed in a while. The older man is charged with getting blood for her, which usually means subduing some teenager, hanging him upside down, and cutting his jugular. (This effect is accomplished here more subtly, and thus more convincingly, than in the original.) Owen knows nothing of this; all he knows is that he's glad of her attention any positive attention and he really likes her. Like, likes her likes her.

As in the original, this romance between a human and a vampire is much darker and more complex than anything in the Twilight saga. Does Abby feel any affection for Owen? Or is she simply eyeing him as a replacement for the increasingly ineffectual older man (who, we learn from a photo, joined her at an age close to Owen's)? Kodi Smit-McPhee effortlessly puts across Owen's fear at school (I also have to commend Dylan Minnette, who creates a realistically intimidating bully whose sadism is rooted in being bullied by his older brother), his sadness at turning invisible during his parents' contentious divorce, his flickers of hope and happiness whenever he sees Abby. As for Chlo Moretz, she's having a banner year (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and especially Kick-Ass), and her work here should write her a one-way ticket to whatever she wants. She isn't around as much as Smit-McPhee, but Moretz makes her presence felt throughout the film; indeed, in her last two scenes we don't see her face at all. What Moretz nails more than anything is the sense that Abby would like to be optimistic about her new friendship would like to see it become something deeper than just a new delivery system for blood but can't quite bring herself to hope, because she's seen too much, suffered too much. (Also, Abby's ambiguous nature, much talked about in the original but reportedly dropped from the remake, is still there if you know to look for it, suggesting pain that goes beyond just being a vampire.)

If you love "Let the Right One In" and looked askance at the idea of a remake, I shared your skepticism, but the movie won me over. It doesn't replace the original, which is still right there on the shelf. It retains the original's quiet strengths and earns its wings as the vehicle by which American subtitle-phobes will watch this story. If you haven't seen the original, that just means you have two treats in store.

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originally posted: 10/03/10 11:32:47
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.
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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