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Let Me In (2010)

October 5, 2010

VERDICT:
8/10 Badass Girlfriends

Not as good as the original, but still really good.

Let Me In is about a loner kid in 1980s New Mexico who hardly ever sees his parents because they’re getting a divorce, gets picked on by bullies on a daily basis because bullying behooves bullying and he never fights back, and that’s pretty much the long and short of his life. Then one day a mysterious girl moves in next door, they start hanging out, she teaches him to stop taking shit from everyone and to fight back for a change, they start going steady, and then he finds out that she’s a vampire. And, surprisingly enough, that’s a-okay by him, so they keep going out.

After all, it could be worse. At least she doesn’t sparkle. HI-OH!

So it’s directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame (not too shabby) and The Pallbearer (shabby) and it’s also the American remake of the best Swedish vampire movie of all-time, Let the Right One In. And while I feel like the existence of this movie is an inevitable turn of events that many fans of the original have been dreading, it’s smart enough to stick to a winning formula and that goes a long way.

But since this is America and we don’t take too kindly to subtitles or those film making pussies who think blood shouldn’t geyser out of the human body, some liberties had to be taken. With that being said, a great deal of the subtlety and quiet terror that I took for granted in the original has been tossed to the wind. Now, in America, there’s an escalating soundtrack that plays throughout so you know when shit is about to go down, there’s a number of cheap scares that go hand-in-hand with all the loud noises that blare through your skull whenever something jumps out of the darkness, and those New Mexico bullies sure do swear a lot more than the youngsters giving noogies in Stockholm.

On top of that, if there is violence to be seen, it is shown in true blood orgy fashion, because why in sam hell would you leave it up to the imagination when you can just show it?

Freakin’ Swedes…

But that last part actually wouldn’t be so bad if the special effects weren’t so cheap, like PlayStation cheap. Hard to be shaken up by a dude getting his necked chewed out when he looks more like Gumby than an actual human being.

And while these gripes only help me to appreciate the original that much more, they’re also pretty nitpicky and minor in comparison to everything else that’s really freakin’ solid.

The most prominent of these being the child actors. We get a nice bit role from Richard Jenkins as Dracula, Jr.’s caretaker of sorts – whose background is more fleshed out this time around, which is a welcome addition – along with Elias Koteas as the cop investigating why all these townies are burning to a crisp or drained to the last drop, but they take a back seat pretty early on. And I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call them better than their Swedish counterparts, but Kodi Smit-McPhee is really good as Oscar and Chloe Moretz is out of freakin’ sight as Abby. Moretz totally stole the show in Kick-Ass and she totally steals the show here, but, God, isn’t it just awesome to see kids who really know how to act? This is a rough movie, it’s definitely not a movie for kids, and they bring a ton of maturity and emotion to their roles in ways that most seasoned actors twice their age can’t even muster up. Same goes for Dylan Minette, fresh off the heels of LOST, who’s doing well to establish himself as the niggest asshole kid of the new millennium.

Man, hell yes. I hope someone treated these kids to ice cream.

And Matt Reeves does a pretty swell job behind the camera, too. Shitty special effects and the unnecessary flash-forward that starts the movie out aside, his variations on some of the source’s more intense scenes were flat-out wild. Not that I really look for these things to begin with, but it also features on of the best car crashes I’ve ever seen, so that must count for something. Dude kept me on my toes throughout and he should get some ice cream too for not fucking around with something that didn’t need fixing.

But like I said, this story just rocks. As Americanized as it is, it’s still very much about these two kids and the whole coming-of-age aspect is such an inspired twist that makes this 12-year-old vampire feel wildly different from the universal recipients we’re used to. It brings so much heart and innocent relatability that you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find in a horror movie these days.

So if you’ve already experienced Let the Right One In and (hopefully) acknowledge it as one of the best vampire movies of the past decade, there’s not a whole lot about Let Me In that you’re missing out on, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. It’s louder, it’s gorier (not to be confused with “scarier”) and it ended up being funnier that it probably should have been since it really hams up the whole ’80s setting, but I just can’t bring myself to knock this down to a 7. For the American remake that it is, I dug it.

Still doesn’t hold a candle to Sweden though.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 12:09 am

    Seems to confirm everything I thought it would turn out to be. Still not sure if I want to see it though. I love the original.

    • October 5, 2010 11:59 am

      Worth a look, but you probably already have in mind is probably what it’s gonna end up being, which isn’t exactly a bad thing either. Thanks for visiting and love your site, btw. You are officially on the blogroll.

  2. October 5, 2010 10:48 am

    …but isn’t this lazy on Hollywood’s part. Great original – copy it in the english language making sure all boxes are ticked and BAM! instant hit. The film might be good but I don’t like the cynical conception.

    • October 5, 2010 10:55 am

      Yeah, it’s the same thing that’s gonna happen to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s the same thing that’s always been happening, and that is lazy and cynical, but what can I say, I liked it. Not as much as the original, but still has a certain merit to it, mostly thanks to the child actors.

  3. October 5, 2010 11:48 am

    Chloe Moretz is going to become one of the greats.

    • October 5, 2010 11:57 am

      Wouldn’t argue that whatsoever, man. She’s tearing it up right now. Thanks for visiting!

  4. October 5, 2010 1:21 pm

    I’d argue that Let Me In is better in handling the relationship between the two leads than the Swedish original.

    • October 5, 2010 1:23 pm

      I need to see Let the Right One In again, because that’s a damn interesting argument. But individually, I did like the Swedish kids more. Will report back.

  5. October 5, 2010 7:42 pm

    Does it snow in New Mexico?

    Kodi Smit-McPhee, I think, tweaked the original actors performance (I won’t try butchering the spelling). Made the character disturbed, but sympathetic. I know, how very watered-down.

    • October 6, 2010 11:39 am

      Apparently it snows like gangbusters in New Mexico. I thought the same thing. Weird.

      The one thing I really liked about the character tweak was the whole “little girl” line and how that got traced back to the bully’s older brother. But the clear psycho killer mask he wore was a bit disturbed. Still, good character, but I LOVED Oskar from the original. The Swedish mop top definitely helped.

      • October 7, 2010 1:05 pm

        I personally couldn’t stand Oskar in the original. McPhee really made it for me in Let Me In, but I agree, a mask wasn’t necessary for the remake.

      • October 7, 2010 1:29 pm

        Not even Oskar’s haircut?

    • October 13, 2010 3:08 am

      Thought the same thing about the snow, but you do get a bit of the Rocky Mountains in the northwest part of the state.

  6. October 11, 2010 1:33 pm

    The haircut was fitting, but Oskar seemed like too much of a psycho.

  7. October 11, 2010 6:41 pm

    While I appreciate the gravitas and maturity of this story, the core relationship doesn’t do much for me. It didn’t in the original and the remake didn’t change that. Yea, the special effects aren’t that great, but at least we don’t get cruddy CGI cats. O yea, and they cut out a lot of that dull adult subplot that did nothing interesting in the original while still keeping the awesome hospital scene.

    What annoyed me the most was all those extreme closeups that were everywhere. It was just too artsy fartsy and I didn’t care for it.

  8. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    October 12, 2010 12:03 pm

    okay, just got around to reading your review after i saw the movie and wrote my own.

    i think we agree mostly, though i think this one comes closer to equaling the swedish version than you seem to.

    i recall when it was first announced that this was being made, they said they were going to try to be truer to the book than the swedish version. kinda makes me want to read the book now, to see which was closer to the original story.

    i’m definitely glad the cat attack didn’t make it into this version. that’s just not something that can be made to look realistic.

  9. October 13, 2010 3:06 am

    Still need to write my review despite seeing this opening day…maybe I’ll do that tonight.

    I liked it, even though I loved the original. It did improve on a few things though, like the relationship between Abby and her caretaker (although I was interested if Reeves would make this character more like the book, in which he is a pedophile who is always trying to get some from the girl). And the whole cat scene, which was unnecessary in the original, was removed.

    The special effects were absolute shit….As far as the attempts at cheap scares, I felt like a couple of them were put in by Reeves to make fun of movies that try and do that, but that’s just me.

    • October 13, 2010 9:11 am

      Man, I really need to revisit the original again, but now that you mention, that cat scene was pretty unnecessary, huh? And I’m with you on the fleshed out relationship between Abby and Richard Jenkins, in particular the photo booth picture of them together when he was a kid. And how is the book in comparison to the movies? Doubt I’ll ever get around to it.

      • October 13, 2010 3:50 pm

        I haven’t read the book, but it’s on my priority list….I just know the pedophile thing from reading online about the changes from the book to the film.

      • October 13, 2010 4:25 pm

        Gotcha. Let me know what you think when you get around to it.

  10. October 13, 2010 9:41 pm

    Ok, still haven’t seen LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (I’m on it! Shut up!), but I thought this was brilliant! So nuanced, expertly paced, with a perfect balance between scares and drama. I really connected with the two characters, which doesn’t happen all that often for me. I know it’s still early, but I think this might be my favorite movie of the year.

    Also, I know you mentioned it, but we can take a moment to appreciate HOW! FUCKING! GOOD! Chloe Moretz is in this film! I mean, that line she says when Owen walks out on her, “I told you we can’t be friends.” Absolutely heartbreaking!!! Thought this was a great film, but she was on a different level of quality entirely!

    How do you like my crazed tongue bathing of this?

    • October 14, 2010 12:40 pm

      wow, dude. that’s some high praise. glad you liked it so much, but now i really just wanna hear what you have to say about the original. it’s on netflix instant you know, so i’ll just leave it at that instead of hounding you. and, yeah, chloe moretz owned this fucking movie. kid’s got a whole lot of talent and she only seems to be getting better. good stuff, man.

      • October 14, 2010 2:27 pm

        I have the original on my computer. I’m gonna watch it this weekend.

      • October 14, 2010 2:28 pm

        Good man. Looking forward to the review.

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