Reviewed by Serena Whitney
Starring Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Directed by Matt Reeves
When it was announced last year that Matt Reeves (a director only known for directing a barely seen late Nineties David Schwimmer bomb and a movie about a CGI monster who takes over New York City) would be directing an unnecessary remake to Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish cult sensation Let the Right One In, film buffs everywhere became livid with the fear that he would take the beautifully shot and controversial love story and pour Americanized Heinz ketchup over the cinematic prime rib. However, those expecting to hate on the remake will be fairly disappointed as Reeves provides an ingeniously skilful eye behind the camera and makes this thematically redundant vampire tale into his own exceptional tour de force.
Although a synopsis would prove to be an exercise in redundancy for those already familiar with the original film and its highly regarded source material, it needs to be stated as Let Me In is tailor-made for the uninitiated. Kodi Smith-McPhee plays Owen, a lonely twelve-year-old boy who is constantly terrorized by a school bully (played by David Minnette, an actor most known for playing Jack’s non-existent “altverse” son in “Lost”) and who is regularly left unattended by his alcoholic mother, who can only provide TV dinners and macaroni and cheese dinners because of her habitual drinking habits. When a strange young girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz) moves next door to Owen with her father (Richard Jenkins), Owen pursues a friendship with Abby by hanging out with her night after night in the apartment complex’s vacant playground. Although after a string of local murders and after Abby’s father goes missing, it becomes painfully clear that there’s something more to Abby than meets the eye, and Owen is all too eager to find out everything about her—regardless of how dark and how evil her secrets may be.
Let Me In is such a respectable remake it’s a shame that only viewers who are fans of the original will be able to truly appreciate it as the film’s new target audience may feel betrayed that it skimps out on the vampire horror the trailer promises. Those in the know are fully aware that Let Me In is a story of loneliness and a character-driven piece about people seeking solace to survive rather than simply being a cash-cow vampire flick. Despite the fact the film recreates all the pivotal set-pieces and English-dubbed dialogue from its predecessor, Let Me In is definitely not a shot-for-shot remake. Matt Reeves stays faithful to the story and key plot points, but because the film is set in America during the infamous Regan era, Reeves has a lot more to work with in regard to the tone and feel of the film and makes his viewers feel far more nostalgic about the Eighties than the original film did simply by providing the film with a killer 80’s compilation soundtrack.
On the downside Let Me In reminds viewers they are watching an American remake with its CGI-rendering effects during key scenes. Those who were left shocked and awed by the infamous and well-staged tunnel and pool scenes in the original film may feel disappointed that they will be reminded of the awful “Stretch Armstrong-inspired” fight scene in Blade 2 after watching the scenes recreated in Let Me In. (Thankfully he left out the laughable CGI cat attack scene shown in the original.)
Also, Reeves makes the bold decision to primarily concentrate on Owen and Abby’s relationship rather than focusing on any of the residents in the apartment building, making it harder to care for the unfortunate souls that become meals for Abby. However, by sacrificing the residents’ sub-plots, Reeves leaves room for great veteran actors like Elias Koteas (a new character added to the story) and Richard Jenkins to showcase their bravado performances. It is through their eyes in which viewers are witness to a disturbing yet attention-grabbing prologue and an applause-worthy car crash sequence that critics are most likely going to praise for weeks to come.
Believe or not, Let Me In is by far one of the most stunning remakes horror fans have ever been witness to. Although too faithful at times, it is still a remake that is exceptionally loyal to its predecessor’s storyline, themes and, most importantly, its fans that made the remake possible in the first place. It is a beautifully haunting film that is quite possibly one of the best horror films viewers will see this year.
4 out of 5
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