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Max’s Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.1/10
(4 ratings total)
When done effectively, remakes can act as a tribute to the source material while providing different interpretations in various ways. Let Me In, the remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In, for all of its faults, is one of those remakes doing more good than bad, but still not enough to match its predecessor.
Set in 1983 New Mexico, Let Me In focuses on 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who spends his days suffering at the hands of bullies and his nights withstanding his mother’s descent into alcoholism while dreaming of violent ways to dispatch his bullies. One night, he notices new neighbors moving into his complex: an unfriendly older man (Richard Jenkins) and Abbey (Chloe Moretz), a girl appearing to be his 12-year-old daughter. Owen observes Abby to be a strange girl in how she walks in the snow barefoot, smells odd and only comes out at night.
Upon their arrival, Owen and Abbey begin to develop a friendship, much to the chagrin of Abbey’s older companion. As various murders and disappearances begin to arise in their town, Owen learns the truth of Abbey’s origin, forcing him to question how far he will go for friendship.
From a visual standpoint, Let Me In is a sign that director Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame) has strong potential for building atmospheric movies. Shots come in blurred and grainy as if watching the film on a strip made in the ’80s. Instead of the strong white and gray palate of the original film, Reeves employs more yellows, in a rather deceptive manner of making the viewer feel safer in the company of Abbey.
Which they shouldn’t. Unlike it’s predecessor, Let Me In is far more graphic in it’s depictions of blood and violence. Where the original felt understated in many of its violent moments, Let Me In is more bold. While effective for Abbey’s first kill, it loses its luster after that and begins to feel a little too forced/CGI-inspired at certain points.
If you are a fan of the original, the general story arc will not come as a surprise to you, despite a few noticeable changes. The town drunks (and character of Victoria) are all but erased. The cat attack scene makes no appearance and Owen’s parents are more present in relation to Owen’s pain, despite the audience never seeing their faces. Most of the omissions from the original actually work well in maintaining the primary focus of the story on Abbey and Owen.
This is where Let Me In, unfortunately, begins to lose some of its steam. While McPhee and Moretz both prove they will continue to have a strong future in the industry, they never really click in the same way the original actors did. In their respective plots, they shine. One scene involving Owen on the phone to his father is why McPhee will be working in film for quite some time. Moretz’s scenes with Jenkins show she can hold her own with the big leagues at the age of 13. Both are remarkable young actors. They just don’t possess much chemistry together, let alone the level of chemistry the original actors had.
In the end, there is definitely more good than bad done with Let Me In. It holds a number of key ingredients that made the original successful. At the same time, it breaks away with its increase in violence and even comedic elements. Ultimately, while the changes do not torpedo the movies quality, the end result leaves a film that while good, cannot hold a candle to the original. Rarely are vampire films considered to be near poetry on human relationships, which in many ways, the original film is. The remake feels less like poetry and more like a student film, experimenting with the classics that came well before them, as Reeves clearly has an admiration for the original work. Such admiration hardly makes Let Me In a bad film. Rather, it leaves you hungry for the masterwork that is the original.
Let Me In
Directed by Matt Reeves
Written by Matt Reeves, John Ajvide Lindqvist (story)
Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “Upon the release of the original adaptation of the novel of the same name (Let the Right One In) I was unable to draw from the production the kind of ecstatic reaction that was discovered by the masses. I found it to be an above-average horror thriller with great style and superb performances from its young actors. After seeing this year’s reimagining I am somewhat relived to have found the same level of satisfaction, meaning that the material simply does not speak to me in profound way, not that I just “didn’t get it.” Like the original, Let Me In makes fantastic use of atmosphere, sporadic scenes of brutal violence and most importantly its young talent. Though this may not be the masterpiece I would have liked, we could all use more horror films like this on a regular basis.” Rating: 7.5/10
Dinah’s Rating: 7/10
Julian’s Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.1/10