Before reviewing Let Me In, a little perspective is needed. When this film was first announced it was met with much criticism as it is a remake/adaptation of the great Swedish film Let The Right One In which was based on the book by the same title.
While I am usually anti-remake, especially of films so new and good, with the talent that was lining up behind the film I was getting quite excited.
After seeing the film today, I can say I was not mistaken.
Matt Reeves’ Let Me In does not stand on the shoulders of the original nor does it simply copy what was done right; as such it deserves its own review with no comparisons needed or given.
I did not grow up in the 80’s, I do not know what that decade was like, however I know for certain that most of the portrayals of the decade in film and TV are only stereotypes. This film immediately feels different, it feels real. The film is similar to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. in tone and realism. Matt Reeves’ deserves a huge amount of credit for creating such a believable world for the film to take place.
While the story is about a young vampire, it is also more importantly about being a child and the difficulties that come with it. At times it is difficult watching Owen, played by Kody Smit-McPhee, as he deals with loneliness, anger and bullying. It is not The Karate Kid, with a bully wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, this is real, and the bullying is hard to experience.
The main reason why I was looking forward to this film was the cast, who not only lived up to the expectations but exceeded them.
Chloe Moretz, as the vampire Abby, proves she is the best child actress working today, giving a performance that even a veteran actress would be hard pressed to deliver. But the casting that really caught my attention was that of Richard Jenkins as Abby’s guardian. He presents us with one of his best performances to date, adding a level of sadness that we can’t help but connect with, even as he performs some horrific murders.
This film is very close to being flawless, unfortunately, CGI was used poorly in one scene, which took me out of the film. Luckily, the strength of the rest of the film lets us quickly enter back.
In the scene in question, CGI-generated fire was used to show a woman igniting from the sunlight, and it is quite apparent that it is not real. It is a strange choice, but one that doesn’t come close to ruining the film. The only other obvious CGI use in the film was to animate Abby during her attacks. This use didn’t bother me as much since her character was hidden in the shadows and it proved disturbing and effective.
The film could be analyzed more, have certain scenes dissected, but that would ruin the experience. It is a film that doesn’t rely on twists, or shocks. It gives us a disturbing story, one that unfolds naturally.
This is a truly great coming-of-age story, and a fantastic horror film. Like last year’s Where The Wild Thing Are, Let Me In presents us with a shockingly realistic portrayal of being a child, even if the story elements are not. Matt Reeves’ shows directorial talent here that is truly rare and is certainly someone for us to keep our eyes on.