film review: Let Me In

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
October 1, 2010 4:30 AM
6 Comments
  • |

Let Me In offers an unusual twist on the usual vampire tale. It’s gripping and unusual—unless you happen to have seen the Swedish film that inspired it, Let the Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. If you did catch that striking Swedish import two years ago, there isn’t much point to seeing the remake. Writer-director Matt Reeves, who made his reputation with Cloverfield, has wisely followed the original and made only a handful of (mostly inventive) deviations. I admire both his fidelity and his restraint.

If you haven’t seen Let the Right One In, or don’t tend to watch foreign-language films with subtitles, then I wholeheartedly recommend the remake. I usually shy away from—

—bloody films, but this one presents its moments of horror in the context of a provocative story with highly unusual characters.

Kodi Smit-McPhee, who made a vivid impression as Viggo Mortensen’s son in The Road, scores again in a beautifully modulated performance as a lonely boy, on the verge of puberty, who’s living with his mother in an apartment complex in snowy Los Alamos, New Mexico. His parents have separated, and his unhappiness is magnified by the fact that he’s been targeted by a school bully. One night, in the courtyard outside his apartment, he meets his new neighbor, a sullen, mysterious 12-year-old girl who tells him she can’t be his friend. Before long she goes back on her word because it turns out that she’s lonely, too. The big difference is that she’s a vampire who needs fresh blood to survive.

The “girl” is played, with great feeling, by Chloë Grace Moretz, from Kick-Ass, whose sensitivity and expressive face match her youthful costar’s. They are supported by such fine actors as Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas; in fact, every character rings true, down to the most incidental.

With an inventive and properly moody score by Michael Giacchino, Let Me In dares to take its time. In a way I wish I hadn’t seen the Swedish movie, because it would have been fun to experience this film without knowing all of its dramatic beats and surprises. But I can still appreciate the skill with which it’s been made—and applaud that rare Hollywood remake of a foreign film that can stand alongside the original.

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6 Comments

  • Alan Smith | October 5, 2010 6:21 AMReply

    I was surprised to see something new and fresh in the horror genre. It brings me back to my youth when I saw the Universal Horror Classics like Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man, to name only a few. If only movies released in the horror genre were this consistently good.

    One screenplay I would love to see adapted into a movie is the classic horror tale Something In Return. This tale, I truly feel, is the apotheosis of horror -- something so unspeakable, so dreadful. It's been tossed around Hollywood but has been deemed by film-producers to be too horrifying.

    To honor such a great story, I've created a website where the screenplay can be read. If enough people band together and pass on the word, maybe we can convince producers to make the film.

    Web Address: www.somethinginreturn.webs.com

    It would be like watching those classic horror films in my youth.

  • will friedwald | October 3, 2010 5:10 AMReply

    Loved Leonard's review - I'd love to see this film except that it looks a little too bloody for my personal tastes. (I wish someone would prepare a PG edit for namby-pambies like myself.) It makes me wonder about the alleged forthcoming American film of the MILLENNIUM trilogy - hey, Swedish horror thrillers are now the "in" thing! The Swedish film of DRAGON TATTOO was only so-so (like a Swedish TV movie), I would hope any American version would NOT be a strict remake of that, but would directly adapt the material from the source, the novels themselves. A well-done series of American thrillers based on the Larsson novels could be fantastic!

  • ArthouseGuy | October 1, 2010 8:28 AMReply

    @Brian
    -Wow Brian, that's pretty selfish about those pesky subtitles. Dang how do think people from other countries when watching our movies:

    Esos zurcen subtítulos molestos
    Ceux-là reprisent de satanés sous-titres
    Die stopfen lästige Untertitel
    De stoppar pesky underrubriker

  • googergieger | October 1, 2010 6:28 AMReply

    Isn't the point of remakes to recognize what's important and special about the original material, and then bring something truly new and substantial to the table, in order to make it a truly new movie that has the same point as the original? And seeing as it is a remake, shouldn't it be judged on whether or not it achieved that goal? I don't know, maybe remakes are supposed to just simply not outright ruin the story. Which, I have to say...seems like a pretty easy stick to measure up to.

  • Jason | October 1, 2010 5:43 AMReply

    Good review! I loved the original film and probably won't see this remake but it's nice to know they did something intelligent with the material.

  • brian | October 1, 2010 4:30 AMReply

    No! The reason for a remake is to make it in English so audiences don't have to handle reading those pesky subtitles!

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