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.