FANTASTIC FEST 2010
By Dave Campbell | September 25, 2010
Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (novel/screenplay: Let The Right One In – Låt den rätte komma in)
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Moretz, Richard Jenkins
Let Me In takes root in 1983 Los Alamos, New Mexico, where we meet 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is embedded in the fallout of his parents divorce. Due to the separation and their own emotional dysfunction, Owen’s parents have left him alone and neglected in the world. Owen’s problems only broaden outside of his home life. Each day at school Owen is the victim of brutal attacks from three demented classmates who relentlessly bully him. Owen spends his free time in front of his bedroom mirror or in the courtyard of his apartment building, acting out dark scenarios of revenge on his tormentors. He also spends countless evenings keeping tabs on the other residents of his complex from his second story corner windows.
One night while in the courtyard, Owen meets the hauntingly curious Abby (Chloe Moretz) for the first time, who recently moved in next door to Owen with her “father” (Richard Jenkins). Abby is also Owens’s age, and seems to also have her own set of issues. Abby only emerges at night from her apartment with covered up windows; barefoot, frail and unaffected by the bitter cold snow. Both outcasts, Abby and Owen strike up a quick fondness of one another which leads to a lovely and unique friendship. At the same time, gruesome acts of murder are being reported on the local news, as Owen sees Abby’s father coming and going in the middle of the night. Loud arguments between he and Abby can also be heard by Owen through the shared wall upon his return home. As their friendship grows, their desire to help each other uncovers increasingly abnormal behaviors from Abby. Owen begins to suspect that there is more going on with Abby than he had imagined, and as secrets unfold a symbiotic bond between the two takes over changing the paths of their lives.
Let Me In is a beautifully enchanting tale of friendship wrapped up in a shinny bow of thrilling darkness. It’s not your typical Hollywood remake, and it is most definitely not your typical vampire tale. There’s no “Team Hot Abs” and “Team Hairdo” in this picture, and it’s also pretty much absent of any other vampire clichés for that matter. This is excellent not only for fans of the original (Let The Right One In), but also for the moviegoer seeing this story for the first time. Director Matt Reeves has carefully taken the great things about the original and tweaked elements and details that only improved on the experience. It doesn’t replace Let The Right One In, but expands the storytelling with additional perspective and fresh ideas.
As I mentioned before in my review for KIck-Ass, Chloë Moretz is an amazing young actress who will one day be a major force in Hollywood. Moretz faithfully embodies the tortured young soul of Abby who completely harmonizes with the other half of the tween acting powerhouse, Kodi Smit-McPhee, as Owen. This kid has a subtle finesse with his scenes that brought an authenticity not only to his character, but the others sharing screen-time with him.
Complementary to Reeves guidance, composer Michael Giacchino struck all the right chords, while cinematographer Greig Fraser framed everything elegantly, creating a completely organic feeling atmosphere for the characters to play in. My biggest and maybe only complaint with Let Me In, is with some of the special effects. It’s not that any of them were poorly executed, but I wasn’t completely crazy about the choices made with Abby’s character. The writing and acting in Let Me In is so well executed that implying some of her abilities would have been better than showcasing all of them on screen. I believe a less is more approach would have done more justice to the story, but it doesn’t take away from the intelligence, subtlety, and sheer beauty that this film ultimately possesses. This is a film about love, belonging, friendship and the lengths that one would go to protect that. This is a vampire movie.