Rudie Reviews Matt Reeves’ Let Me In [Theatrical Review]

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.

Grade: B



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7 Comments

  • To me the purpose of a movie is to tell a story. The purpose of a remake, is to tell that story again. Now there SHOULD be two reasons why you should tell a story again. The first one being the original didn’t live up to it’s potential. Good story, but horrible execution. Which I think everyone can agree on, would never be the case for LTROI, and isn’t this go around either.

    Which brings up the second reason. The second reason is, you recognize and understand what’s important and special about the original source, but believe you can bring significant and substantial changes to the table to make it a truly new movie with the same point. Keeping what’s important and essential, but finding different ways to get to there, or go from there.

    Which I think is how remakes should be judged. Did they do what a remake is supposed to do? If not, then explain how and give it a negative review. If yes, then explain how and give it a positive review.

    To me this remake is like, and I’ve said this before(on other sites). Alfredson is like a building contractor. Who drew up the plans to a beautiful house, made sure everything involved complimented everything else, made sure it was painted a certain color to compliment the size and complexities of the design of the house, etc…

    And Reeves kind of came in as an interior decorator. Moved something things around. Took some things out, and brought in a few things to replace them. Painted the house another color. Then basically someone came along saw the house, and told Reeves great job on everything! Though some of the changes aren’t as great as what was there, but still at least you didn’t destroy the house. So great job on everything! I don’t mean this to sound insulting, it’s just what most reviews are blatantly doing. Which I understand, as a stand alone movie, Let Me In is good. Not great. Somewhat forgetful, but good. However, as it is a remake, it not only should be compared to the original, it should lose points for not being as good or great. Especially because it didn’t opt for option number two.

  • “Though some of the changes aren’t as great as what was there, but still at least you didn’t destroy the house. So great job on everything! I don’t mean this to sound insulting, it’s just what most reviews are blatantly doing.”

    In case of this particular film, I was little bit scared if the blatant scenery and atmosphere is changed for the sake of making some genre movie (here, more horror film – the production company is the resurrected Hammer films). If there isn’t that much dramatic change, then I’m not so worried anymore (haven’t seen this remake yet, perhaps I’ll read the book first). But why tell this particular story again if the original film was enough ok – though having some plot holes. Note, this was more of a rhetoric question of why make a remake of a film that is critically aclaimed and made two years ago.
    Btw what was particularly “horrible execution” in Alfredsons version? The flying cgi-cats were indeed horrible, was what was the breaking reason to make a remake? Loss of explanation of the castration, the shady gender of Eli?

    And please Rudie, mention the original title whenever it’s possible. It’s understandable if the original titles are way too long to repeat all the time in the text, but it is reasonable to mention them at least once.

  • Let’s not get it twisted, the reason the movie was remade was to bring a great (Swedish) story to an American audience. And, oh yeah, to make money. Alfredson’s LTROI was well executed, but let’s face it, the typical American audience was not going to seek out this film, if they were even aware of it in the first place. So the studios saw a great story in Lindqvist’s novel and saw that it could be a successful ($$$) film if done well (as Alfredson did). And since mainstream America has no interest in subtitles or dubbed in English, the only answer is to remake the film. That said, it is obvious Reeves took great care in this version and clearly had an emotional tie to either the book or LTROI- it could easily have been made into something, well, more akin to all the other vampire crap out there right now (I’m looking at you Twilight). On it’s own, it is a terrific film and I’m glad it was made. Side note- see the movie BEFORE reading the book (if you are inclined). Many parts and intricacies were deleted from both sceenplays, and really add several more layers to the story. Enjoy!

  • I read the book. I really doubt Reeves did, after seeing his remake of the original movie. Nobody went to see the remake, if the original were given a wide release when it was originally made, it probably could have made the same amount of money. Which would have made it that much more of a success. The original cost like two million to make, where the remake cost 20 million. Reeves took Alfredson’s blueprint and vision and made it for an American audience. Nothing more and nothing less. Oh and all the while, not once giving credit to Alfredson. He remade the movie, which the original director was vehemently against, and then said it was another take on the book. Which is complete and utter b.s.

    Let Me In is a good movie made out of a great one. Literally. At the end of the day it’s pointless and a pretty big hack move.

  • Agreed, Reeves movie was based more on Alfredson’s version than the book, so to say otherwise is ridiculous and an insult. Reeves has said on several occasions that he is a fan of Alfredson’s film, but has not offered much as an explanation of why he made Let Me In as he did. Giving Let The Right One In a wider release would arguably have made it more money, but nowhere near what Let Me In has made. Americans are where the money is and, as a whole, American audiences are completely adverse to watching foreign cinema. Agreed, Let Me In has not been financially successful, but I still feel the studio thought it would be. Making a movie is always a calculated risk. But what it has done is bring attention to Alfredson’s film, to an audience that probably didn’t know about it before- and some will seek it out as a result. So, in the end, there is a benefit to Alfredson.

    Would we (and a countless number of other websites) even be talking about Let The Right One In if Reeves never made Let Me In?

  • Let Me In has cost 20 million to make. That’s just production budget. LTROI may not have made as much, but it would still have been a success. Where as Let Me In has to make about 35mil or 40mil to break even.

    Me and a lot of other people saw the original film two years ago. Hence why all the b.s. ass kissing from Reeves and company since this remake was announced. Hence why it made no money. The original was released in a small amount of theaters and made a decent profit, then on dvd/bluray/etc was that much more a hit. Let Me In was too different to interest the mainstream, but too generic and borrowed to interest the fans of the indies/foreign cinema. It had a very small middle ground to compete in. Let Me In is destined to live in the original’s shadow not the other way around. Which is pretty sad considering how much easier Let Me In had it than LTROI ever did.

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