Review: Let Me In

Let Me In (2010, directed by Matt Reeves)

Here's the Let Me In Cliff notes for those of you who need it: A bullied young boy, Owen, isolated and trying to navigate through his parents' divorce, makes a new friend when Abby and her father move into the apartment next door. His new friend turns out to be a vampire though, forcing him to make some terrible choices along the path to adolescence.

At least, that's what it's supposed to be about.

Based on the novel and film Let the Right One In, Reeves' take on it makes for a good movie. I'm not going to slag the very idea of Hollywood remakes, and I'm certainly not going to rag on this particular remake; it's a solid film. It's a dark coming-of-age story, darker than American audiences are used to, and for that reason alone it deserves to be seen.

But it left me a little bit cold. The source material isn't just good, it's great, and Reeves wasn't able to push Let Me In to those heights. The problem wasn't in the performances either. Chloe Moretz was very good playing a very different role than Mindy Macready. Any worries anyone had that she might be a one-trick pony should be put to rest. And Kodi Smit-McPhee is just as good opposite her, better here than he was in The Road. The two of them trade vulnerability back and forth like (hmmm... what were those crazy kids big into collecting back in '83? Pogs? let's go with pogs) pogs, with Abby's soul-weariness and Owen's frustration at his own weakness driving the movie forward.

Really, the emotional disconnect is all on Reeves. His decision to use CGI for Abby's attacks on her victims is as distracting as it is unnecessary, and it doesn't help that the quality of the animation is about the level of Raimi's first Spider-Man. And he makes Owen's mother even more distant than she was in the Swedish version, not even giving the audience a clear view of what she looks like.

The near-removal of Owen's mom from the film is just a symptom of the biggest issue I had with Let Me In though. Owen's choices, in the end, are too easy. He's supposed to be conflicted about siding with the 'evil' Abby, and yet the film gives him no reason not to cast his lot with her. Coming-of-age stories have to put their characters through a crucible so that they can find out who they are and who they are capable of becoming.

Let The Right One In did that. Let Me In does not. And that, in the end, is the most crucial difference between them.

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