Chris Sawin takes an inviting look at Let Me In, the remake of the 2008 critically acclaimed Swedish film, Let the Right One In. Read on to see how the American version lives up to its fan-favorite predecessor.
Review by: Chris Sawin
Owen (Smit-McPhee) is a twelve year old boy with a rather complicated life. His parents are in the midst of a divorce while three bullies at school humiliate him in public on a daily basis. Owen has violent fantasies about getting revenge on his bullies, which only seem to get stronger after he buys a pocket knife. Owen seems to be drowning in his depression until Abby (Moretz) and her father (Jenkins) move in next door. Abby is different. Owen knew that the minute he saw her walking around in the snow barefoot. As Owen starts hanging out with Abby more and more, he comes to realize that she isn't like any other girl he's ever met and she's somehow connected to the students at his school that were recently murdered. By the time the police are dragged into it, Abby has already revealed to Owen the dark secret she had been keeping from him. Now it's up to Owen to decide if it's worth keeping the one thing in his life that makes him happy at the risk of others being killed in the process.
Let the Right One In was one of the most talked about films of 2008. Even outside the horror community, critics and moviegoers alike were raving how the film breathed new life into the tired vampire genre. While the Swedish film certainly had its moments and told a pretty amazing story, it wasn't quite as exceptional as everyone made it out to be. When word came that Cloverfield director Matt Reeves would be remaking the film for American audiences, there was a massive amount of skepticism. You've probably heard the complaints about remakes before. How they're never as good as the original and are only done to make a quick buck. Well Hollywood may have pulled a fast one on you and is set to release a remake that's actually worth seeing for once.
The trickiest part when handling a remake like this is what the writers, directors, and anyone else behind the scenes decide to change in comparison to the original film. If they change too much then people complain that it strayed too far from the original, but if they change too little then people claim it's too similar to the original and that it was pointless to remake in the first place. They've got to find a balance; add just the right amount of different and new material while maintaining a film that follows in the same footsteps of whatever it was based on. Let Me In just does that.
Let Me In is actually at its strongest during the scenes where it ventures away from the 2008 film. Just about any scene that takes place in a car is spectacular, especially during one particular scene where things don't go exactly as planned. There's also a scene where Abby attacks a jogger in a tunnel that's pretty brutal. These added scenes didn't take anything away from the already well-established story, but actually managed to add depth to these characters a good portion of the people seeing this are already familiar with. Considering most Hollywood remakes, this is well worth mentioning. Let Me In at least deserves credit for pulling off something like that.
There are several alterations to the story that may put off some who were Let the Right One In enthusiasts. Oskar and Eli are now Owen and Abby and the film now takes place in New Mexico rather than Stockholm. Some of the more memorable scenes in the film didn't make quite as much of an impact as they did in Let the Right One In. Virginia being exposed to sunlight and the pool scene at the end of the film being the two biggest examples. It's not that those particular scenes weren't done well, but they just felt too similar or maybe weren't quite different enough to distinguish them in comparison to the original. That's probably my biggest complaint with the film overall. If you've seen Let the Right One In, then you know how everything turns out. That's a pretty obvious statement dealing with a remake, but knowing that going in really seemed to hurt the experience overall.
Let Me In definitely deserves to be held in high regard as one of the best horror remakes in recent years and perhaps ever. Its newly added material blends in nicely into an already well-written vampire story. It just felt like the film could have been even stronger if it was a bit more unpredictable. Nevertheless, its wonderful cast, enticing storyline, and eye-catching camera work will satisfy just about any moviegoer and is a surprisingly strong horror film to be released this late in the year.
Chris Sawin is a film critic and guest contributor to From Dusk till Con. To read more of Chris Sawin's published work, you can visit http://www.examiner.com/x-3938-Houston-Movie-Examiner or look him up on Rotten Tomatoes at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/user/753514/.
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Theatrical Release Date: October 1st, 2010