Shakespeare’s been telling us all about young love and death for hundred of years, but LET ME IN takes it to another blood-soaked level.
In the mid 00’s (that’s 2000’s not 1900’s if you still living in a cellar because of Y2K, remember that?) a Swedish horror-writer, John Ajvide Lindqvist released his debut novel, Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In). All you Morrissey fans may get the title’s sly reference. Either way John’s novel was picked up and made into a haunting film by Tomas Alfredson. Then Hollywood came a calling and CLOVERFIELD’s director Matt Reeves was giving the task of remaking the film, thus LET ME IN.
Director Matt Reeves. Photo by Photo Credit: Saeed Adyani – © 2010 Fish Head Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Ironically, Reeves TV history seems to bleed more into this well-done remake. Reeves was one of the creators and lead writers for the show FELICITY. Not that I think that Keri Russell was a vampire or anything like that, but the struggles of young love are something that Reeves has dealt with before. Also the idea that its ok to travel for love is an obvious theme of LET ME IN.
The story itself is about a young bullied boy, Owen, who befriends a new neighbor, Abby. She and her “father”, the always great Richard Jenkins, have moved next door to Owen and his mother.
Owen is an undersized kid that has had to deal with his parents recent break-up/up-coming divorce. The ways in which he is bullied and humiliated force him to harbor violent thoughts of his own. The twist of the story is that Abby is a vampire and her urges are only controlled by her “father” discreetly murdering people in the towns they travel to. This time they end up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The film is set in the 1980’s and Reeves does a great job of capturing the time period with his music and fashion choices.
The story is nowhere as in-depth into the actual past of Abby and her “father” (named Hakan in the book and film). Reeves does pay homage to both with subtle scenes in the film, if you’ve seen the original film or even a die-hard fan and have read the book you should notice these easily (a hint – Abby’s love of puzzles).
The one aspect the film doesn’t really touch at all is Hakan’s pedophile background in the book and original movie. The film doesn’t lose any of its suspense or horror without that bit of information. In the end, this is a well done remake that showcases that Reeves can make a subtle, funny and gore-filled horror film really well. Elias Koteas portrayal of the lead “policeman” is a real highlight. His confusion over what is happening to his quiet town harks back to his amazing performance in the PROPHECY, where he also played a cop searching for answers (minus all the bible references of course).
Elias Koteas. Photo by Photo Credit: Saeed Adyani – © 2010 Fish Head Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved
But this film is all about the children. They not only take up most of the on-screen time they easily carry the film.
Kodi Smit-Mcphee is a 14-year-old Australian actor who grabbed our state-side attention with last year’s quality adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s, THE ROAD. In back-to-back films the young actor has showcased a real talent to hold up a film. Both films are extremely daunting when it comes to the emotional strains he has had to act out. In LET ME IN, we not only see him completely vulnerable, but he is also spooky, funny, and caring. Its a powerful performance for a young up-coming actor. Its not hard to predict good things for Mcphee’s future.
The tormentor of Owen in the film is Kevin, played by Dylan Minnette. Dylan is most recognizable from his extensive TV history, extensive for a 14 year-old. He’s been on TWO AND HALF MEN, PRISON BREAK, GREY’S ANATOMY, GHOST WHISPERER, SAVING GRACE, and LOST. Dylan is a mean little punk in this film and he sure is spot on at being a bully.
Chloe Grace Moretz. Photo by Overture Films – © 2010 Fish Head Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
The real cream of the crop though has to be Abby, played hauntingly well by Chloe Moretz. If their is an “it” girl in Hollywood it has to be Ms. Moretz. Even though she’s only 13 she’s been working a lot. You may remember her from her earlier TV work on shows like MY NAME IS EARL, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, and DIRTY SEXY MONEY, but last year’s KICK ASS really put her on everyone’s map. As “hit-girl” she not only made us laugh and cringe, but she shocked most of us with some choice words (a specific c-word caused a bit of a stir in fact). To jump from that fun romp of an action film into this action filled horror movie didn’t take to much change. The major differences though are in her subtle mannerisms. As a powerful and violent killing machine she is awfully graceful and her glances are just so captivating. Compared to Kristen Dunst’s child-vampire performance in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, Chloe really shines in this fully fleshed out character. By far though the movie shines when Owen and Abby are dealing with very grown-up issues. The underlining sexuality of her character is cautiously shown in Owen’s cute “glances” and a funny scene where they share a bed. Overall these sequences are perfectly done and really stamp home the Romeo and Juliet connection. Also the way in which the film tackles the issue of “inviting” a vampire in to your home is done quite well. Its the first vampire film I can remember that actually shows what happens when a vampire comes in without being invited and it is by far one of the more powerful scenes between Owen and Abby. If you aren’t a fan of Chloe Moretz after this film and KICK-ASS then I’m not sure if you’re human (if you’re a vampire then you should already like her!!). And expect to see A LOT more from this fine young actress, she’s in Martin Scorsese’s up-coming HUGO CABRET and of course she’s a lead in KICK ASS 2: BALLS TO THE WALL (only announced).
To end I’d like to say that if your only knowledge of vampires is because of the Twilight series, then let me say that lil’ Abby would kick both Edward, Jacob, Bella, and any other lousy high-school vamps you can think of. TEAM ABBY no doubt about that.
LET ME IN comes out this Friday, October 1st.