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Daneel September 30 2010 08:52 AM

"Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
The remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In opens tomorrow in North America. Set in 1983, Let Me In tells the story of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road), a lonely twelve-year old boy living with his recently divorced mother in New Mexico. Viciously bullied by other children at school, Owen dreams of revenge, but cannot bring himself to stand up to his tormentors.

Things change for Owen when he gets a new neighbour: a girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass), who is also twelve... more or less. Despite her initial insistence that the two of them cannot be friends, they soon become very close, and she teaches him to stand up for himself.

All seems to be going well, but Abby harbours a terrible secret: she's really a vampire, moving from town to town with her longtime companion/guardian (Richard Jenkins). As one would expect, Abby needs blood to live, and she will kill to get it. Can her friendship with Owen survive in the face of her true nature?


Personally, I thought this film was very well-made, although I can't give it too high a grade, mainly because much of it feels like a copy of the original. There are a few small changes, some of which are actually for the better (there's no unnecessary subplots involving minor characters, like the couple that live in the neighbourhood, who
). However, for the most part, this is a scene-by-scene, line-by-line remake; even some shots from the original are repeated.

I think director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) is a talented director, and if he had just done more to make this movie a bit more distinct from its predecessor, he could have really hit it out of the park. Indeed, the little touches he has added are quite nice, so I think he had it in him. Unfortunately, this film suffers from being too faithful to its source material. The original film was damn good, and while I'm not against the idea of remaking it, this version needed more of its own identity.

Now, if anyone thinks I didn't like this film, you're wrong: this still manages to be a truly effective horror flick/coming-of-age movie. It's taut, thrilling, touching, creepy, and visually engrossing. As well, the performances are sublime. After pretty much stealing the show in Kick-Ass, Moretz continues to impress here with a very grounded portrayal of the presumably ancient creature forever destined to remain in the form of a child. Smit-McPhee too does well, particularly shining in scenes where he must grapple with the knowledge of his only friend's true, monstrous nature. The development of their characters' relationship, both endearing and unnerving, is handled with skill.

In the end, I give this film a B. I feel that I should mention if I was not at all familiar with the original, I might have rated it higher. So whether or not you've seen Let the Right One In, I'd say check this movie out: you might just find it to be well worth your time.

Pauln6 September 30 2010 09:36 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
SPOILERS:

The original was very atmospheric and I thought that there was a bit of ambiguity in there - surely somebody that old could not remain so 'innocent' - so was she really looking for friendship or is she just very good at manipulating somebody impressionable (and the audience) into believing that she is still a child and into wanting to become her next guardian? I'm not sure I'll rush to see the re-make but I'll give it a go when its available to rent.

Starkers September 30 2010 09:44 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Quote:

Pauln6 wrote: (Post 4426662)
SPOILERS:

The original was very atmospheric and I thought that there was a bit of ambiguity in there - surely somebody that old could not remain so 'innocent' - so was she really looking for friendship or is she just very good at manipulating somebody impressionable (and the audience) into believing that she is still a child and into wanting to become her next guardian? I'm not sure I'll rush to see the re-make but I'll give it a go when its available to rent.

I think the truth might be somewhere inbetween. This sounds like more than the usual Hollywood butchery of a classic, but also sounds a bit too much like the same film without subtitles, which makes me think, what's the point?

I'd be interested to see if they retain one particular element from the original
.

Admiral_Young September 30 2010 09:44 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
I'm looking forward to seeing this film. Probably won't though for a few weeks.

JacksonArcher September 30 2010 10:31 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
I loved the original, but I am very curious about the remake, so I plan to check this out this weekend. I've heard some glowing reviews. My take on the slavish faithfulness of the original: Imagine it like you're seeing the original for a second time but with new actors and some new components. That's the way I choose to see it. I loved the original so much that I have no problem seeing a remake, so long as that it is good.

Daneel September 30 2010 05:54 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Quote:

Starkers wrote: (Post 4426668)
I'd be interested to see if they retain one particular element from the original
.


Daneel October 1 2010 06:08 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Here's some critics' reviews, if anyone's interested.

First the good ones:

Quote:

Reeves understands what made the first film so eerie and effective, and here the same things work again. -Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Quote:

This is more than a respectful remake; Let Me In is quietly stylish and thoroughly chilling in its own right. -Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Quote:

Reeves hasn't just remade the Swedish cult vampire film Let the Right One In into a more fluid and visceral movie. He's made it more dangerous. -Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Quote:

While all that is artful about Let Me In comes straight from the original, the Hollywood version commands respect for not dumbing things down. -Peter Debruge, Variety
And some not-so-favorable ones:

Quote:

Itís an honorable attempt, but thereís still no genuine need for this film to exist. -Ty Burr, Boston Globe
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Thereís a human tragedy somewhere here -- but aggrandized puppy-love romance and stylish revenge fantasy is all that lingers. -Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice
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The language has been changed to English, of course, which is the only real reason this movie exists; the story development, desolate tone, and key set pieces are mostly copied from the original movie. J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
Of course, we can't forget the most important review of all:

Quote:

Children should not be exposed to this lurid display of helplessness and pessimism -- and adult viewers should be wary of the nihilistic indulgence. -Armond White, New York Press
;)

It currently has an 82% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Starkers October 1 2010 01:16 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Quote:

Daneel wrote: (Post 4427420)
Quote:

Starkers wrote: (Post 4426668)
I'd be interested to see if they retain one particular element from the original
.


I guess I'm not surprised.

Mr. Adventure October 1 2010 01:53 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
This film can't win, if it's like the original then they say there's no point or it's too faithful. Yet if they had deviated they would've been torn a new one. It seems to me there's less furor when the film stays closer to the source material so they probably did the right thing.

Starkers October 1 2010 10:59 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Lets face it, films like this are remade because a lot of people just won't watch films with subtitles or that don't star Americans. With that in mind I'd rather they did a faithful adaptation than a different version, but as someone who isn't averse to subtitles or films not starring Americans it just doesn't really appeal to me.

Dream October 2 2010 08:57 AM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Yikes! Let Me In tanked.

It opened up at 7th place this Friday at $1.9million. It's a shame since this movie seemed to be getting good reviews. It's really crazy how much better that other vampire movie did compared to this.

http://moviecitynews.com/2010/10/ste...day-estimates/

Robert Maxwell October 2 2010 05:37 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
:guffaw:
Quote:

Robot Devil wrote: (Post 4427420)
Quote:

Starkers wrote: (Post 4426668)
I'd be interested to see if they retain one particular element from the original
.


I saw this last night (and the original a few weeks ago.)



I thought it was good and a worthwhile remake. But there was a hell of a lot of chuckling and heckling by stupid teenagers who clearly weren't expecting the kind of movie they got. Some woman also brought a child around 12 years old. :wtf:

"Would you still like me if I wasn't a girl?" was the biggest unintentional laugh line in the whole movie. The entire audience roared at that one. Once again, I think this version kept too much of the European sensibility and style and it's absolutely not what American audiences are accustomed to. It's too sincere and devoid of cynicism.

My one real gripe about the movie's execution is the music. It was typical, cliched horror movie music, with the "doom violins" and everything. They should have taken a note from the original and used a much more minimalistic approach.

This is well worth seeing but I'm not surprised it's tanking. Much like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (a comparison I never thought I'd end up making), it's a good movie that most people just aren't going to "get" because it was made for a certain audience. It is not your typical Halloween season slasher at all.

Dorian Thompson October 2 2010 08:13 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
I just got home from seeing it at a before noon matinee. Oklahoma City is like a ghost town; everyone must have driven to Dallas. Why are there spoiler boxes in a discussion and grading thread?

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I loved it, but I don't expect it to perform well at the box office. Considering the rave advance reviews, I'm surprised it didn't have a better opening weekend. Could the massive flooding and problems in the (densely populated) northeast have contributed to the poor showing?

Very, VERY well made movie that a lot of people won't "get" or appreciate. The movie isn't a vampire flick. It's a seduction of an alienated boy not old enough to know better into giving up his life.....as no doubt countless others before him had done. They grow up, they can't have sex with her anymore (or do they?), they're complicit in several murders by the time they're old enough to know better. Who would believe them? They can't go to police and they're too in love with her as a child--then they want to protect her--all very murky and vague. Owen "let her in" to his life and his soul. How long could he love her as a contemporary after he matured physically? What a fate.

Abby may have had genuine feelings for some of her protectors, but count me in as thinking the whole routine was manipulation from the get go. She tells him they "can't be friends" but she was the one who showed up outside at the jungle gym in the courtyard, in the snow, no shoes. You feel sorry for a little girl (prepubescent girl) with no shoes. She finally leaves (out of guilt) but conveniently shows up to save his life? That instills indebtedness in him, and then she has him hooked.

Who knows how long she's been doing it? I can't believe I didn't immediately grasp that the dorky little boy in glasses in the photos with her was her first protector. I think it was a good idea that this was set in 1983. Was the original made in that year? Methinks this scenario wouldn't play as well in the digital age. Harder to go from place to place murdering when there's an internet data base to track you, and Owen seems too "innocent" for this age.

I wonder who originally made little Abby into a beast.

Grade: A
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Harvey October 2 2010 08:16 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
The original was released in 2008, but set in 1982.

Dorian Thompson October 2 2010 08:20 PM

Re: "Let Me In" - Discussion & Grading
 
Thank you for the answer. I may have to pick up the original. The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. You know, the girl playing Abby is just the right age to be part child, part "almost woman." She really was the perfect "seductress." Love me, protect me. Owen is doomed to a horrible fate.


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