This is the second part of a three part look at the Swedish film “Let The Right One In” and it’s American remake “Let Me In.” Part one is a review of “Let The Right One In,” and part three looks at both together. I plan to do my best to keep the two film reviews independent of each other, but do forgive me if I fail. I would also like to acknowledge that I have not read the original novel, though I plan to in the future. This commentary is based solely on the films and some trivia found online.
Let Me In (2010)
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Matt Reeves, based on the novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist
We open on a snowy landscape outside Los Alamos, NM, with the blue and red flashes of sirens silently moving down a road. An ambulance is delivering a man with severe burns on his face to the nearest hospital. Once stabilized, he is grilled by a detective about his possible involvement with a Satanic cult. When the detective leaves, the man scribbles “I’m sorry Abby” on a sheet of paper and hurls himself out the window to his death.
Rewind a few days. In a low-rent apartment complex, the young Owen (Smit-McPhee) is struggling with his day-to-day life. Bullies at school regularly taunt him, sometimes to the point of embarrassing side effects. The lead bully, Kenny, calls Owen a “little girl” and take every possible opportunity to humiliate him.
One evening, Owen is watching his neighbors through his bedroom windows when he sees a young girl arrive with an older man. They quietly and inconspicuously make their way to the apartment next to Owen’s. The next night Owen meets the young girl, Abby. She is strange: she doesn’t wear shoes and no coat, yet the cold doesn’t bother her. He lets her borrow his Rubik’s cube, which she quickly solves.
As Owen and Abby’s bond grows, people end up murdered in the town. The older man that moved in with Abby is out collecting blood – because Abby is a vampire. Unfortunately the man has become sloppy in his work, ending with one of the most amazing car wrecks I’ve witnessed on the screen.
The bullying at school gets worse, as well. Owen’s confidence in himself grows the closer he gets with Abby, and he ends up confronting the bullies one fateful afternoon, nearly tearing Kenny’s ear of in the process.
As with the review of Let The Right One In, I don’t want to spoil too much. The performances from the child actors are amazing, and it is their innocence that saves this film. I had already seen both of them in other roles where I was equally amazed at their performances (Moretz in Kick-Ass and Smit-McPhee in The Road). My only complaint here is that Moretz is sometimes too downtrodden, rather than just disconnected.
The visuals in the movie are striking, and the cinematography is well done. It’s not at all what I expected from the director of Cloverfield. The move is subtle and even, which are two words that don’t often describe American movies these days.
Unfortunately, mixed in with the truly great – such as the car wreck scene, which I feel a need to mention again as it was gut-wrenching and perfect – are moments of the “Aw, really?” variety. In one scene, Abby runs in distress and climbs a tree, except she’s clearly CGI and the effect really ruins the emotion of the moment.
The original Swedish version is clearly the winner between both, but the American version has a different perspective on the tale, and brings in several unique items that the Swedish version didn’t offer. In all, you actually can’t compare the two apples to apples. It’s a worthy stand-alone film that deserves its own place on the horror movie collectors shelf, even if it is right beside the original.
Deleted scene and interview with Matt Reeves: Exclusive Deleted Scene: Let Me In; Matt Reeves Explains Why the Intense Sequence Was Cut