“Let Me In,” a remake of the phenomenal 2008 Swedish film “Let The Right One In,” explores the painful adolescent feelings of growing up through the wonderful performances of its two leads.
Set in Los Alamos, Mexico in 1983, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is mercilessly bullied at school. While his parents go through a divorce at home, he feels alone and misunderstood. When a mysterious 12-year-old named Abby (Chloe Moretz) moves in next door with her guardian (Richard Jenkins), an innocent and affectionate bond forms between the two kids. But Owen soon learns that the dead bodies beginning to surface around the area are because of Abby’s need for blood as a hungry vampire.
Writer and director Matt Reeves pays tribute to the original by conducting some scenes and dialogue exactly as the original. However, he injects enough of his own visual style into the story to make it a suspenseful but not-so-scary ride. His dark and moody atmosphere fits perfectly with his shallow depth of field camerawork to create the isolation both children feel.
Reeves’ misstep is in his use of computer generated images. For example, the cheesy special effects take innocent Abby and turn her into a cheap looking creature that rips her victims apart. Despite the excessive gore, the film is not interested in cheap scares, but rather sadder, intimate moments between Owen and Abby.
Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) and Smit-McPhee (“The Road”), who bring enough originality and heartache to their characters so they don’t mirror the Swedish ones, are played with a sympathetic eye by these quiet and compassionate leads. The always-wonderful
Richard Jenkins brings an unsettling fear to his character’s actions as Abby’s guardian who is forced to go out and kill innocent people in order for her to survive.
The original film earned so much praise that one has to wonder why a remake was made for American audiences. But Reeves, whose meticulous direction anchors the film into a vivid portrait of childhood, gives the film purpose. He captures the sadness of two children alone in the world and in doing so creates a beautifully rendered but aching love story.
“Let Me In” was written and directed by Matt Reeves. The original screenplay and novel was written by John Ajvide Lindqvist.