'Let Me In' (dir: Matt Reeves, 2010), Cert: 15
About a year ago when I first read that there was going to be an American remake of Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish masterpiece, ‘Let the Right One In’, I felt the cool hand of sadness grasp my shoulder. American remakes are usually poor, and it seems that Horror movies always come off worst. I adored ‘Let the Right One In’ and I have been praying to like its dollar-bursting brother. After seeing promising stills, trailers and being incredibly pleased by the casting, it seems to be on the right track, but has ‘Let Me In’ won my heart liked its European sibling?
The film is set in New Mexico, 1983. 12 year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a social outcast who drifts through day to day life trying to avoid any obstacle that heads his way. Living in the blistering coldness of Los Alamos, he is surrounded by a snow-soaked and empty world. As a regular victim of vicious bullying; Owen finds comfort in solitude and expresses his anger and emotion at home alone. When a mysterious girl named Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves in next door, he aims to become friends with her. Abby herself too is socially isolated, but for a far different reason than Owen can imagine. Abby’s behaviour is impeccably odd; she doesn’t wear shoes, she doesn’t attend school and the aggressive arguments that ensue in her home are for the whole neighbourhood to hear. As time goes on and various reports of murders and attacks swarm the town, Owen’s new found relationship with Abby is about to take a strange turn when he finds out that she is actually a vampire.
‘Let the Right One In’ showed audiences across the globe how beautiful and accessible Horror can be when it’s mixed with a perfect romance and a story about childhood and innocence, and ‘Let Me In’ does exactly the same too. This is a perfect remake, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen, and here’s why.
‘Let Me In’ shares a lot of similarities with its original, but surprisingly, a large quantity of it is rather different. The story is basically the same, apart from a few scenes which uncover more about Abby’s father. As well as the story, director Matt Reeves has almost created a shot-by-shot remake of the 2008 picture, but the similarities end there. For starters, this film is far more violent than the original. One of the studios behind the remake is Hammer Horror so the extra gloop and gore was inevitable, however this is not a criticism; it’s actually praise. Violence is one of Horror’s defining features and it’s used sensibly and brilliantly in this movie; the images of the thick red blood draining across the town’s snow quilt is something of rare cinematic beauty. Rather than being like a typical Hollywood Horror that throws blood and brains all over the place, the violence supports key areas of the narrative allowing it to be portrayed properly. Reeves clearly knows the core of this movie is its story, and he does nothing to take the audience away from this. Some scenes are also quite distressing; especially the bullying sequences which made my heart sink. They are executed and performed wonderfully which makes them so effective.
The real heart of ‘Let Me In’ however lies with the utterly brilliant casting. Smit-McPhee is an utter delight to watch. He was incredible in ‘The Road’ and he gives an outstanding and moving performance here. His character provides plenty to make you shed a tear. But for me, the star of the show is Moretz. She was the best thing about the fantastic ‘Kick-Ass’ earlier this year and she’s knocked the ball so far out of the park with this performance. Abby is an intriguing, wonderful and equally horrifying creature, and Moretz nails her so well. She swallows the screen and every scene she’s in. She’s rapidly becoming one of my new favourite actresses and I can’t wait for her next picture.
So, in answer to my earlier question, yes, ‘Let Me In’ won my heart and it’s refusing to let go. My top 10 of 2010 is going to be so hard to write, but one thing’s for sure, this movie will be in there.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 – Easily the best Horror movie this year; ‘Let Me In’ is a clever, cool and incredibly beautiful film that’s layered with fantastic performances, cinematography, music and précised direction. I absolutely loved it.
By Chris Haydon