Oct 18

Review: Let Me In

Are you sick of vampires yet?

While I would say yes, 2008’s “Let the Right One In” came as a refreshing surprise to the world. Here we had an intelligent, poignant tale about two kids dealing with something horrible. Subtly horrific and heart wrenching by the end, “Let the Right One In” is and will always be one of the best vampire films ever made.

Now why on earth would you choose to remake that? Assuming the studio plans to milk an audience who would not typically make the effort to see a foreign film, then “Let Me In” does exactly what they set out to achieve.

But you shouldn’t see it.

Might I just say, normally remakes should be judged on their own merits, and sweeping comparisons to originals kept to a minimum. But “Let Me In” is so very similar to its predecessor that it’s near impossible to mention one without the other.

“Let Me In” is a film that will probably do a lot better than it should. The jaded among us might grumble about remakes and respecting originals but more people will see “Let Me In” than the far superior “Let the Right One In”. Purely because of the accessible American child actors and the lack of subtitles.

“Let Me In” is a fairly by-the-numbers retelling of the original. While the film is not bad or unwatchable, the tense or meaningful moments in the story only feel interesting because they are shot for shot lifted from the original. Save for one or two moments, what there is of the new additions feel hugely “on the nose”. Come to think of it, most of this film feels on the nose. Some of the best moments in “Let the Right One In” are unspoken, relying on the actors and the visuals to convey a message. “Let Me In” decides to forgo that for the much simpler showing and saying nearly everything.

Dumbed down, is the way to describe it. In aiming for a different audience, Matt Reeves and Hammer Productions have aimed far too low. Making the story so obvious it takes the compelling mystery entirely out of the film.

The acting from the two kids is surprisingly decent. Kodi Smit-McPhee is highly believable as hapless sociopath in the making and Chloe Moretz continues her relentless mission to play every young girl in every film this year (though she thoroughly deserves it). The most impressive roles however come in the form of Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas, playing The Father and The Policeman respectively. The Father especially, may be one of the few improvements on the original film.

It’s nice to see Hammer Horror back and with a new facelift. Hopefully “Let Me In” signals a new era of prosperity for Hammer, who have created some of the most indelible images in horror films since film began. While not off to a blinding start, it hopefully signals the return of quality horror movies to our big screens.

“Let Me In” is an enjoyable enough film, though if you’ve seen “Let the Right One In” there’s no need to make the effort. And if you haven’t seen “Let the Right One In”, what are you doing? Go rent it. I’ll wait.

– Calum W Austin

To hear what David and Josh thought about “Let Me In”, listen to Film Actually episode 104.

  • Cake

    It seems like the remake was trying to combine the supernatural horror and poignancy of the original with a garden-variety, typical American crime thriller. You have to wonder if its too much for the original plot to take; the contrast of the sweetness of Oscar & Eli, and the gore that defines their existence, is quite enough to complete the original. While watching it, you are simultaneously horrified and entranced. That’s what makes the film beautiful. Inserting a subplot about a detective who is trying to make sense of it all, while not uncompelling, simply isn’t needed, and somehow manages to limit the intensity of the film. There are two reasons, I think, why it was included: (1) in a film which involves crime, the audience expects it to be, and (2) more significantly, it helps differentiate the remake from the original… thus seeming like less of a rip-off.

    That being said, I thought the way “Let Me In” reexamined the father figure was interesting; you found yourself sympathising with him, even as he was hiding in the back of some hapless victim’s car. That’s pretty good, considering the things he does, and that punches weren’t pulled in exposing it to the audience. I don’t recall “Let the Right One In” giving the father figure as much screen time, and I’d say that’s the only noticeable positive difference between the two (in favour of the remake, anyway).

    But despite all that, and despite the highly talented cast, it’s pretty much an entirely unnecessary remake. The fact that they made very little changes from the original film, and as you say, are shot for shot lifted from the original, makes it obvious that the only reason “Let Me In” exists is because some people don’t like movies with subtitles.

    If I was Tomas Alfredson, I’m pretty sure I’d be pissed off.