Remakes in Hollywood have been a time long tradition from Frankenstein to Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, the horror genre is a rich and viable option for remakes. Matt Reeves’ Let Me In is the new entry into the horror remake field. Adapted from Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In based on John Ajvide Lindqvist novel of the same name, Let Me In is one of those rare remakes we get from Hollywood. It’s actually good and I would say a worthy effort to its predecessor.
Instead of taking place in Sweden, Let Me In is set in New Mexico in the 1980s and centers around Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) , a 12 year-old boy who is constantly bullied at school, and is neglected by his parents at home. He meets Abby (Chloe Moretz), ostensibly a girl, who just moved into his apartment complex with her father (Richard Jenkins). They become friends because ultimately they need each other. Owen needs Abby to cure his loneliness and Abby needs Owen to quench her blood lust. Abby is a vampire. The film itself is split into two parts, Abby and Owen’s budding friendship and Abby’s father, a serial killer who preys on young men to drain their blood to feed Abby’s hunger.
Tonally, Let Me In is very similar to Let The Right One In, both films have an eerie tone that feel like anything can happen at anytime. Both rich in texture and have fleshed out worlds, but Let Me In adds more of a punch when placed against the fantastic score of Michael Giacchino (Up and Star Trek). The differences between the films are deeper than one would expect, Let Me In is scarier and less ambiguous in some places and more ambiguous in others. There is more of an emphasis on the distance of Owen’s family in Let Me In compared to the emphasis on community in Let The Right One In. From right there, you see the differences between culture in American and European.
One of the elements that shine in Let Me In is the performances from the very young cast. Both Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) have a very bright future in the industry and as a matter of fact both pick really strong and interesting roles. But not to shy away from the performance of Richard Jenkins as Abby’s father which is magnificent. What Richard Jenkins adds to the father character is exhaustion. You get this sense of weight of a life devoted to this young girl. To think about how many people this man has killed in his life only to satisfy Abby’s hunger is truly horrifying.
The strangeness of this film doesn’t come from its terrifying premise but in its filmmaking. How can one film have such powerful and well conceived elements such as a brutal car crash and the race to a hospital in an ambulance also have some of the worse and schlocky CGI sequences. Certain sequences could have and easily been done practically, which could have added more texture and tone to the overall film. It could have been forgiven if it was only one scene but this poor execution is done over and over again.
But overall, those very small parts shouldn’t take away your enjoyment of Let Me In. It is still a highly effective film, full of friendship, distance and devotion. Matt Reeves is a talent in Hollywood that is extremely rare, a filmmaker that has a true vision and is smart and talented enough to make good, interesting films that far exceeds its genre. It is very difficult to view or even discuss this film without mentioning the original, Let The Right One In. So it’s hard to let this film stand on its own, I’m not sure if that’s the point of this remake but I feel it’s highly worth watching and something you can really sink your teeth into.