Some of the most potent phrases in the English language are some of the shortest. At the deathbed of a loved one, we simply say, “goodbye.” To a cherished friend embarking on a journey, we may say, “don’t go.” And to the person that has captured our heart, we may say “I love you.”
How about a different set of three words? Let me in.
It could be a command or a plea. It could refer to a location or a relationship. In either case, it marks a beginning and in this case, in particular, it marks another entry into the catalogue of vampire horror movies.
“Let Me In” is the story of twelve-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee ). Late one night, he notices a new family moving into his complex: what appears to be a father and a daughter about his age. He meets her one night on the playground. Her name is Abby (Chloe Moretz). She promptly announces to him that they can’t be friends and he responds by walking away. In typical twelve-year-old-speak, this marks the beginning of their friendship, except that Abby is not your typical twelve-year old girl and this is not a typical relationship.
“Let Me In” might or might not be a remake. I imagine that would depend on your point of view. Everyone involved in the production of this, the latest feature from “Cloverfield” director, Matt Reeves, said that it wasn’t a remake of the 2008 Swedish film, “Let The Right One In” but was in fact, a reinterpretation of the original 2004 book, “Låt den rätte komma in” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Regardless, it cribs heavily from the 2008 film, which fortunately isn’t a bad thing. Visually, it presents us with a somber and sometimes unearthly environment; covered in snow, almost always shrouded in night. The script, also penned by Reeves, is not quite beat for beat identical to its Swedish counterpart. Again, this is still not a bad thing. Where Reeves especially succeeds with his interpretation is that his “Americanization” of the material didn’t mean adding unnecessary gore or sex or explosions. Instead, it involved tightening up the storytelling process and speeding things along as opposed to vast empty expanses of scenery occupied by languid characters and sparse dialogue. This Americanization wasn’t perfect though. Apparently, it also means you have to beat the audience over the head with things. It’s not enough to say that Abby is a vampire and therefore dangerous, you have to add in horribly bad CG scenes of her attacking her victims. Easily some of the worst CG I’ve seen in a movie that wasn’t on the SyFy Channel. It made Abby look like Gollum on crack. Still, in a movie like this, whether you call it a remake, reimagining or reinterpretation, this sin is simply a venial one, not a mortal one.
Casting was another high hurdle “Let Me in” had to clear. As we learned earlier this year with “The Last Airbender”, young actors are not always a slam dunk and can sometimes torpedo a production. “Let Me In” has no such problem. Their young cast, lead by Chloe Moretz, fresh off her star-making turn as Hit Girl in “Kick Ass”, is pitch perfect. As Owen, Kodi Smit-McPhee provides the right amounts of vulnerability, willfulness and just a hint of creepiness, all necessary to the part. Kenny the bully, played by Dylan Minnette, reminded me of a young Cameron Frye who went terribly bad and stuffed Ferris Bueller’s body in the trunk of his father’s Ferrari 250GT California Spyder. And Moretz work as Abby is simply masterful. When we first see her, she is downright boyish. After feeding, she is girly and cute. And when she’s hungry… let’s just say you wouldn’t like her when she’s hungry.
“Let Me In” is not going to be for all people. If you’ve seen “Let The Right One In” and want to see how they translated it stateside, you shouldn’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for standard horror fare, you might look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a slightly bittersweet tale of vampiric love at the age of twelve, then I have three more words for you: check it out.