Let Me In (2010)
By: Stuart Giesel on September 21, 2012  | 
Icon | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 111 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Screenplay: Matt Reeves
Country: USA, UK
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I'm extremely wary of remakes, and let's just say that Let Me In - a remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In - hadn't exactly got me quivering in anticipation. Not that I've seen the original, mind you, but the history of excellent horror or thriller remakes is pretty thin, and can be counted on one hand: The Thing (Carpenter's), The Fly, The Hills Have Eyes and The Blob come to mind. And let's face it, vampires have made a pretty bad cinematic name for themselves thanks to a certain inexplicably popular franchise that shall go unnamed. Also, it was directed by Matt Reeves, responsible for vomit-a-thon Cloverfield.

The film is set in 1983, in New Mexico (home state of Heisenberg, bitches!). Accompanied by some ominous John Carpenter-esque music, a burn patient is transported to hospital where he's interrogated by a detective (Elias Koteas) who thinks there's a cult out there doing fucked-up things to people. Cut to two weeks earlier where insanely creepy kid Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) - who likes pretending to be a mugger and perving on the neighbours - meets his new neighbours, Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her father (played by the awesome Richard Jenkins). Jenkins - not given a name in the film - abducts and bleeds victims so that his daughter can feed. Owen befriends Abby, and soon learns her secret. But that's okay, because vampires need friends too. Pretty soon the bodies pile up and the police close in, and Owen has to rethink his relationship with Abby.

First, let's start with the movie's biggest problem, its title. The original title, Let The Right One In, is vaguely sinister, hinting that if there's a "right one" to be let in, then there's most certainly a "wrong one" too. Let Me In? Derp. Sounds like a petulant kid. So what does the film do right? A whole hell of a lot, it turns out.

Without seeing the original, I have to say that Let Me In rightfully belongs in that small pantheon of decent remakes. Whether it rehashes a lot of what worked in Let The Right One In remains to be seen, but for the most part Let Me In is a solid vampire tale that eschews most vampire stereotypes, with decent helpings of gore (a lot of it thankfully practical effects) and some terrific performances. Thankfully there is none of that shaky camerawork so prevalent (and stomach-churning) in Reeves' Cloverfield. His work on Let Me In is mature and confident (he also wrote the screenplay based on the original film and the novel), yet at the same time he doesn't mind showing off when the script calls for it - the brilliant one-shot in-car chase comes immediately to mind. The relationship between Owen and Abby is deftly handled and quite touching despite the whole vampire-freak aspect to it. And the film raises some interesting notions about what it means to be a vampire in the modern world, and exactly how one has to go about collecting blood to feed. The cinematography is excellent, really nailing a dark, brooding mood that perfectly suits this unconventional vampire tale.

The best moments are the most understated, like Owen listening in to his neighbours through the wall at a voice that we soon realise isn't Abby's father, but Abby herself. There's also a scene involving an attempted abduction that gradually starts to go very, very wrong. The more overt moments involving Abby's feeding regime work as well, but might have been better handled as with the shark in Jaws (i.e. less is more). Thankfully, CGI is used sparingly; when it is used, it's mostly kept in shadows (but still a bit "look at me, I'm CGI!"). It does push the whole 80's motif a bit much: just in case we forget the decade the film is set, we have a Rubik's Cube, Pac-Man, Ronald Reagan on the TV and hear Bowie's "Let's Dance" and that awful "Turning Japanese" song amongst other things.

There's a compelling sub-plot involving a school bully who continually makes life hell for Owen, and you're counting down the minutes until his satisfying comeuppance. Unfortunately the bullying sub-plot becomes overdone and unbelievable towards the film's end. Still, this is a story about vampires, so I guess criticising the film for its unrealistic elements is a moot point. Regardless, the film's feeling of "creeping dread" (as Reeves puts it in the audio commentary) in this odd coming-of-age film ultimately supersedes any of its shortcomings.
The moody but beautiful cinematography shines on DVD. Although much of the movie is concealed in darkness and the colour palette is quite restrained (typically when it's not black or white, it's brown), the detail is excellent - just check out those close-up window scenes! The blood, when it comes, certainly stands out amongst the gloom.
The 5.1 mix is excellent, but hardly ever overbearing. As is often the case for thrillers or horror films, sound design is paramount, and the sound effects in Let Me In are wonderfully immersive. Michael Giacchino's score does get in the way at times, but for the most part the excellent sound design ensures that effects are suitably grisly and impactful, often telling the story instead of the visuals.
Extra Features
The Audio Commentary by writer/director Matt Reeves is a must for fans of the film. Reeves proves himself to be an erudite commentator, and provides great insight into the filmmaking process and explains some of the decisions he made, including why you never get a good look at the mother's face amongst other stylistic choices. I'm not a huge fan of audio commentaries, but this is as good a one as I've heard.

From the Inside: A Look at the Making of Let Me In - a decent behind-the-scenes feature, containing interviews with the key cast and crew and a brief look at the FX and makeup work.

The Art of Special Effects - boring look at some of the CGI shots. Is it just me or are CGI making-ofs incredibly dull? We know it was done on a computer, hence there is no real movie-making magic here, just pixels. Yawn.

Car Crash Sequence Step-by-Step - for fans of that tricksy car crash scene, this featurette breaks it down in explicit detail.

Deleted Scenes - a selection of deleted scenes, with optional audio commentary by Matt Reeves.

Poster and Still Gallery - shots of various marketing posters and promotional stills.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Let Me In is a worthy and creative addition to the vampire genre, as bloody and elegantly filmed as the Twilight films are toothless and vacuous. It's a touching love story, but this isn't some simpering Bella-Jacob-whatshisname experience. Your experience may differ depending on whether you've seen the original Swedish film or not, or indeed have read the novel, but there's still a lot here that is mightily impressive.

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