Let Me In is the American remake to the masterpiece that is Let the Right One In. Is it better? In some ways...I would say yes. As a whole......no. When I watched the original for the first time I was immediately swept away into the beautiful film. When I watched this one I was immediately reminded of the original...which is not a bad thing, per se. It just doesn't stand apart as it's own entity.
Apparently, the story goes...
Hollywood instantly wanted to do a remake of the remarkable Swedish film. The project was offered to Matt Reeves, director of Cloverfield. Reeves didn't want to touch the project because he felt the original was already perfect. However, he decided to do it because he felt that if the project were given to someone else the finished result might betray every single thing that made Let the Right One In so special to begin with. So, Matt Reeves directs a remake called Let Me In for his second effort in the film industry. He did a great job.
The premise is basically about a young boy named Oskar---I mean Owen...sorry...who is picked on at school by a bunch of douchebag bullies. His home life isn't that much better...his parents are getting a divorce soon and he pretty much has no friends...sort of a young John Wayne Gacy in training. One night...while spying on his neighbors, he spots a young girl moving in next to him with her "father". The two quickly begin a romance based on innocence and a yearning for each other. The young girl, though, isn't exactly what she appears to be. You see....Eli---damn...I'm sorry....Abby...is actually a blood-thirsty vampire. Can their budding young love for each other survive that one minor flaw??
The actors cast in the roles of the original's Eli (now Abby...don't fuckin' ask me why the name change was necessary) and Oskar (now Owen....again...let's just try to look the other way) do a fine job in their portrayals of the two misfit children that find each other despite their different worlds. Chloe Moretz steps into the role of "Abby" bringing in her own perspective (I loved how creepy she looks as a vampire) and Kodi Smit-McPhee lends his budding talents to the role of "Owen". Personally, I didn't find anything particularly wrong with their performances...I just felt that it was already done......in another film.....called.....Let the Right One In. Oh...did I mention that already? Sorry. It's just that sometimes...the scenes feel so shot-for-shot....line-for-line...I wish they had done more with the already established material.
Without spoiling anything, there's a scene where the old man that takes care of Eli--I mean, Abby...sorry...played here brillaintly by character actor Richard Jenkins, goes out to procure a victim for Abby's insatiable blood hunger and things go bad for the poor guy. In the original, that scene played out as sort of a color-by-numbers in honor of the book (the original source material for the whole story). But, here Reeves does it in such a cool expert way it brings something fresh to the whole thing. He injects his own spin into the entire mythos. If only he did the entire film this way...it would've been a more original entry rather than karaoke night.
Another gripe I had with the film is the blatant use of CGI. Come...the...fuck...on, man! Some scenes just take you out of the entire film. I felt like I was watching I Am Legend. And I think the problem comes from that train of thought where you can rock out a scene in an extreme way rather than hit you with subtlety in different ways. This is evidenced by the infamous pool scene. In the original film, it was beautiful artistry that conveyed violence in a completely subtle manner. Here...they basically wave it in your face and crank up the volume. That happened alot in this version. Almost as if they didn't have faith in the American movie goer's imagination. Reeves would rather wave a megaphone in your face and spell everything out for you.
Now...having said all of that. The film was overall good. It's one cut from an extraordinary story, so it was bound to be good in some manner. Reeves does a great job of keeping most of the soul intact and treating the film as a love letter to the original. He also does something new with Elias Koteas' policeman character that I liked better than the original. I treat Let Me In as a gateway film. You'll like it enough to hopefully go back and pick up the mostly superior Let the Right One In. Fans of the original can sit tight and know that this one isn't better...but, it's not bad, either. In a perfect universe both films will be included as a combo pack on bluray one day.
Oh...and when the Hammer title screen appeared in the beginning I was grinning from eat to ear. It's good to see that name back in the genre and hopefully we'll be seeing more Hammer films in the not-too-distant future.
Let Me In gets an 8 out of 10 because despite being a good remake of a far superior film it is much better than most of the new films you will no doubt waste your money on this October.
Thanks for reading,