DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TIFF 2010 - Let Me In

Saturday 11 September 2010

TIFF 2010 - Let Me In

Let Me In (2010) dir. Matt Reeves
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas


By Alan Bacchus

Kudos to Matt Reeves. He and the producers took a lot of slack when it was announced the critical fave and international genre hit Let the Right One In was going to be remade in Hollywood. Cries afoul be silenced. Reeves achieves a rarity of a remake being, hell yeah, I’ll say it, better than the original. And for the record, it's not really 'Hollywood', the production company in the recently revived Hammer Films, the same British B-Movie stalwarts of old.

The story is almost exactly the same with only a few minor tweeks, but tweeks significant enough to improve on the former and offer a deeper, even more penetrating cinematic experience of genre horror.

Of course, we all know the story, a young boy (named Owen here) child to a single absent-minded mother in a small remote snowcapped town befriends his new female neighbour, a young vampire named Abby. The relationship grows from curiosity into a strange pre-pubescent love affair which fosters the boy’s self confidence to stand up to the bullies in school. And for Abby, a new companionship with a mortal and replacing her former life long paternal figure, played by Richard Jenkins..

Tonally Reeves hits the same mark as Tomas Alfredson’s masterful treatment of his version of the story - and remember it was a book first and so the Swedish version isn’t technically an original either. Michael Giacchino’s glorious music score (the best he’s ever done) sets the pace, simple piano melodies and string arrangements conveying a sense of sad melancholy.

Such is the existence of Abby, who seems to have lived the life as a 12 year old girl for hundred or so years. It takes just a little tweek in revealing her backstory to open deeper more complex layers to her character. Specifically her relationship with ‘father figure‘ (Richard Jenkins), which is given more attention than the original. Reeves moves the film in a direction even the Swedes wouldn't go - that is, a tender and possibly sexual relationship between father and daughter. It’s handled ever so delicately, nothing shocking or disturbing, but a connection between the two which is genuine and heartbreaking.

Reeves amplifies the horror for a more satisfying genre experience. More blood, more suspense and bigger bloody payoffs still manage to fit in and stay true to the poetic and melancholic nature of the story. But it’s child stars Moretz and Smit-McPhee who are simply marvelous which put the icing on the cake. Neither actor trumps the other, an equal match for both - arguably two Oscar-worthy performances. And wouldn’t that be a story? Two child actors from the same movie in contention. But let‘s not get ahead of ourselves. Let Me In couldn’t have been any better than it is. A remarkable achievement considering the extraordinarily high expectations.


Sheldon H said...

With the buzzing of remake vs orig around this movie, I'm getting interested. I'm inclined to watch "Let the Right One In" before watching this one. But then again, I sometimes watch scary movies for other reasons, such as Quarantine for Jennifer Carpenter, Christine for the Plymouth Fury, The Stand for the novelized Bible theme, etc.

buck said...

Sigh. So in the original movie Hakan may or may not be a pedofile. In the book he outwardly is. Though him targeting young boys and hanging around with an eternal young boy in Eli, kind of should tell people he is. If Abbey has taken the caretaker/father as a young kid and groomed him to kill for her and is doing the same with Owen. There is only no love story, there is no reason to sympathize or like Abbey is there? Even the Swedes wouldn't go? They didn't go because there was nowhere to go. In the original film we have an eternal castrated boy vampire who is hanging out with a pedofile and is getting blood in exchange for......The Swedish version gives credit to it's audience to be smart enough to get things on their own. Not to mention is a great companion piece to the book and is very true to it. Something Reeves film isn't. The original is based on the book, the remake is based on one interpretation of the original film. Do yourself a favor and read the book. Cause Reeves made himself a bastardized remake version of it.