Note: Going into this review, Eoin has not seen the original Swedish version Let the Right One In nor has he read the book (yet) so his review only goes from what he takes out of the remake itself. Check out Film Editor Sam Inglis’ review on his own site 24FPS for someone who has now experienced all three.
Let Me In is a film with much to live up to. With the admiration the original got, the news of an American remake would of course get horror buffs getting ready to get out the pitchforks and torches ready to burn it to cinders.Whilst I personally have never gone into the widely discussed ‘Remakes are Bad’ mentality the rest of the world seems to have done, Let Me In doesn’t quite hits the highs it should, instead ending up being a ‘Almost Was’ in the books of Horror movie history.
Let Me In follows young New Mexican schoolboy Owen, regularly bullied at school and alone from the world, his mother being over protective of him after murders occur in his hometown. He sees new neighbors move in, a young girl named Abby and an older man and tries to befriend the girl. The girl starts to grow to like him and, after the man dies in twisted circumstances, they grow closer and Owen finds out her deep secret and it complicates the relationship into something both disturbing and at some points, quite chilling when it is done right.
The biggest thing that stops this movie being as enjoyable as it should be is the downright terrible and blatantly obvious CG, especially in the parts of Abby’s character attacking various people where you can tell some of it was tacked in. It just doesn’t seem that impressive It would be fine if it was a television show because of the smaller standards and budgeting but for something that is supposed to be seen on a big screen with surround sound and plenty of other people, it just seems really lacking. If they had a bit more time, they could have made it much more presentable and not as much of a standout. The other major CGI scene involving a fire falls into this exact same problem circle. It comes off looking like a film you’d see being made in a first year Film Production student make, which would be totally fine for that but defiantly not here.
The other concern I have, especially as a horror movie, is that the build for something bigger never lives up or never goes over third gear so to speak. Its strongest point is the way it can crank up the tension with some of the scenes involving Owen’s bullies being more chilling and frightening then what many would be used to seeing and the way it builds up certain moments towards the obvious ending is one that’ll be appreciated by horror fans but the payoff is just never there or at least never feels like its there. A scarier moment is instead replaced by something else happening to be built up or the tension is released from the proverbial bottle and when that happens, you can’t recapture it again.
The strongest point of the movie are the child actors. Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was last seen in The Road earlier this year, had this great sense of selling the fact that Owen is a loner. He is very much affected by his mother’s divorce and does things intentionally to rebel against her not because he wants to be difficult but he needs his own independence and world outside the crappy one he is in right now. It’s a very good child performance. The same can be said about Chloe ‘Hit-Girl’ Moretz, playing the innocently sinister Abby and the most enjoyable performance of the movie. She gets the right moment of still being childish and quiet but having this other side of her that needs blood to basically live. As you find out more about her, you feel for her and feel for her situation and makes the other side of her even more frightening or it would if not for the horrible CG.
Everyone else besides Owen’s bullies are, to be brutally honest, not that important. Abby’s ‘Dad’ is only there for the killings, the officers are the same officers you see in these kinds of movies and it says a tonne about the other character’s importance to the film when the IMDB descriptions have most of them listed with ‘The’ at the beginning such as Richard Jenkins playing ‘The Father’ and Elias Koteas playing ‘The Policeman’. There is a segment with Owen speaking to his divorced Dad over the phone which I wish could have been more developed in why they got divorced but it might have been seen as unnecessary to the overall plot of the film.
What will be discussed the most is how this is the second major movie from Cloverfield director Matt Reeves and it is, gladly to those with motion sickness, different from how he pulls off the movie here. Whilst many of the problems with tension lie at his feet as he also co wrote the screenplay, the shots he has and the angles he takes in particular scenes, including the scene where the top picture comes from, and some of the really chilling strong points of the film show that, to me, he could pull off a really good thriller in his future. It’s just a shame this one isn’t it. It is also disappointing how he decided to end it, too. It feels like more reason is needed in why it happens but it’s never really given and leaves too many questions rather than answers. As I’m only starting to read the book now, I’m not sure if it would make sense to have a sequel to explain, but I have a weird feeling it wouldn’t.
Whilst it won’t do much to change the minds of those who either think the original or the book are superior, Let Me In on its own is a good horror movie that would have been great if it were not for the big glaring problems that act as its glass ceiling. If you’re going out on Friday night and looking for a good movie to spend keeping your other half from getting too scared, it’s a good movie to do that in. If you want something more, it’s best not to try this one. Having said that, if there is one recent vampire movie you could choose to see in the cinema, you could pick a lot worse than this one.
Let Me In is out now.