Let Me In
Undertaking a task such as the remake of Låt Den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In) must have been a nerve-racking production to say the least. In 2008, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson created such a brilliant film that, I, like many others, was sure that the American remake, Let Me In, would fall far short of its predecessor.
Fortunately my prediction was far from the truth. The remake, directed by Matt Reeves, is done with composure, integrity and intelligence. In fact, it falls right in line with Låt Den Rätte Komma In as one of the great horror movies of the last decade.
As the film begins, an ambulance is racing through the snow in the small town of Los Alamos, New Mexico. A man, burned beyond recognition, is taken into the hospital and confronted by a local detective who speaks omnisciently of the man’s connection with a local “cult”. The officer leaves the room to take a phone call. In the middle of his conversation there is a scream from the burn victim’s room. The detective rushes back and sees that a frightened nurse is now the only person in the room. The burned man is on the ground several stories down — dead.
We are then shown the events that lead up to this death. Abby, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, is a 12-year-old who just moved in next to Owen, another 12-year-old played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Owen is a misunderstood outcast who is consistently bullied by his peers; however, Owen is no outcast when compared to Abby. When night falls, Abby’s guardian and fellow vampire goes out into the night, draining the blood from an unassuming person — the food by which they live.
Owen and Abby finally talk to one another in the courtyard of their apartment during a snowy night. However, Abby warns, they cannot be friends.
Despite what Abby says, the two continue to see each other in their courtyard. One night Abby notices a cut on Owen’s face that was inflicted by one of the school bullies. She convinces Owen to stick up for himself. “You have to hit back hard.” She tells Owen. He then asks, “What if they hit back harder?” Abby responds saying that he must hit back even harder — harder than he ever thought possible.
As we begin to understand the complex portraits of Abby and Owen, we develop a strong desire to see their relationship prosper. It appears that they’re the only two people for one another. Abby is inherently distanced from the world (because of her need of blood to survive) and Owen has no friends, an absent father, and a mother who is away from home or drunk the majority of the time.
The characters are rich and honestly written, but it takes great acting to bring a well-written character to the big screen.
Chloe Moretz, who garnered rave reviews for her controversial performance in Kick-Ass, was absolutely perfect for the role. It has been a very long time since I have seen such a young actor succeed in a role with such style and grace. Moretz does an almost eerily good job of depicting the young vampire. She moves and speaks with such confidence — the confidence of a much older girl.
Smit-McPhee also does a great job with the character of Owen. Because Smit-McPhee’s role as Owen demands that he is shy, cowardly and sad, he doesn’t get to radiate as heavily as Moretz, although considering the role, he plays it perfectly.
If one views the film in relation to the 2008 film Let The Right One In, it could be criticized. Let Me In gets no praise for originality, for the film is nearly identically made to Alfredson’s 2008 version. If you’ve seen Alfredson’s version, you will recognize not only plot line and scenes, but also individual shots and angles. The film is so similar to its predecessor that this fact alone will propel many critics to review it poorly.
However, when one views Let Me In as a self-contained piece of art, it is difficult to not be impressed with the accomplishment. It is undoubtedly Matt Reeves’ best film so far. The acting is uncommonly good, the story seizes and won't let go, and the cinematography is gorgeous — all the makings of a great film, and in the genre of horror no less.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you like Let Me In or Let The Right One In better. They are both wonderfully made films. Sure they are similar, but they accomplished different things. The Swedish Let The Right One In brought a compelling story to life on the big screen and the recent Let Me In spread the joy of that compelling story to a wider array of viewers. I say thank you to both Matt Reeves and Tomas Alfredson.