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Movie Review: Let Me In

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago

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Written 10/1/10

Sweden’s LET THE RIGHT ONEONE (’08) is a beautifully pieced film in every way imaginable. There wasn’t anything within it that left it open-ended and much less an incomplete feeling. Why HOLLYWOOD would go ahead and green-light a remake – especially so soon – is beyond my comprehension. Every single moment in L.T.R.O.I. entices ones’ desire to seek more. It’s a bittersweet love story that meshed both innocence and evil in a way that blurred the lines and made both acceptable. It was paced slowly, but not so slow that it felt boring. Ultimately, I thought it was about acceptance and about the characters searching for where they could belong, in this case, in the company of each other. Meaning aside, my two particularly favorite scenes are the ones with the cats attacking the woman, and when “Eli” (Lina Leanderson) comes into the house uninvited to answer her friend’s question. Both were very original. I’d suggest this movie for anyone who enjoys vampire films of course, but also for anyone who might be into subtle romances that aren’t awash with sex and other adult-like scenes. This was the sort of romance any aged person could appreciate, but it also had enough gore and action I think to appease the less sentimental audience – a great and unique film all around. Having received many praises from practically every critic out there, generating a solid fan-base for those who thrive on vampires and having stood out in solid form, many were skeptical of anyone daring to try to recreate this film. Yes, it’s true, remakes almost never really work and for someone like Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) to step up to the plate and the legendary Hammer Films high class horror label, who selected this project to give their brand another chance at life remained to be seen.

LET ME IN didn’t really steer away much from the original version. In adapting the film, a few adjustments were made, such as changing the names of the characters to Owen and Abby, and moving the setting from the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg to a small New Mexico town. Los Alamos County has granted a special request from the film's director and producer to name the town in the movie "Los Alamos, New Mexico.” Having reached their objectives with the American version, everything else seemed like a carbon-copy. Twelve-year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee - THE
ROAD) is viciously bullied by his classmates and neglected by his divorcing parents. Achingly lonely, Owen spends his days plotting revenge on his middle school tormentors and his evenings spying on the other inhabitants of his apartment complex. His only friend is his new neighbor Abby (Chloe Moretz - KICK ASS) an eerily self-possessed young girl who lives next door with her silent father (Richard Jenkins – EAT PRAY LOVE). A frail, troubled child about Owens's age, Abby emerges from her heavily curtained apartment only at night and always barefoot, seemingly immune to the bitter winter elements. Recognizing a fellow outcast, Owen opens up to her and before long, the two have formed a unique bond. When a string of grisly murders puts the town on high alert, Abby's father disappears, and the terrified girl is left to fend for herself. Still, she repeatedly rebuffs Owen's efforts to help her and her increasingly bizarre behavior leads the imaginative Owen to suspect she's hiding an unthinkable secret.

I guess I stand corrected. Unless I was imagining things, I guess remakes can work. Like everything else in life, odds are both against/for it and no matter how high or low they are, sometimes it hits. Films as a whole are a shot in the dark – especially among remakes, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with LET ME IN. It felt different in the sense of what I had endured as well as engraved with the Swedish version, but overall, it wasn’t anything that drastic in difference. I actually left the screening quite satisfied. I guess the verdict is in on my end and I truly recommend it. I normally bash remakes due to pretty much everything it presents, but my hat’s off to Matt Reeves. I can dare say LET ME IN is one of the best horror films to come out of HOLLYWOOD in a long time. More sophisticated than the genre norm, it’s also a departure for Reeves, who forgoes the frantic antics of CLOVERFIELD for the stately cold winter’s night atmospherics that defined the Swedish original. While carefully preserving the bones of the story and matching his predecessor’s highly accomplished filmmaking, Reeves puts a personal spin on the material with creepy-clever use of distinctly American pop songs, video games, politics and even the [Now and Later] candy jingle. He also found just the right cast—from Smit-McPhee’s heartbreaking Owen and Moretz’s deceptively angelic Abby, to the spot-on secondary turns from a world-weary Jenkins and Elias Koteas as a detective investigating the murders. The film its share of gory deaths and sudden scares, but it’s more interested in presenting images and ideas unsettling enough to haunt your dreams. No matter how many times this eerie and romantic horror fairy tale is told, it’s sure to remain a true original.



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