TIFF 2010 Review: LET ME IN

by: Chase Whale
October 1st, 2010

Rating: 4/5

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves and John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (novel)
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Studio:
Overture Films

Editor's Note: This review was originally published on September 12th, 2010.

Nobody really knows when love will first chomp at them. For Owen (THE ROAD's Kodi Smit-McPhee), it happens at a very tender twelve years old, when he meets Abby (KICK-ASS's Chloe Moretz) in Matt Reeves' LET ME IN. But the the first time they encounter one another, she tells him "we can't be friends." She means well and has very good reasons - she needs blood to survive and can't come into a living quarters without being invited.

She's what us modern suckers call a vampire.

If you're reading this (thank you, by the way), then you probably know this is the American remake of the 2008 Swedish film, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which was in turn based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel of the same title. It's nearly impossible to write this review without comparing (or simply referring back) to its original, but I'll do my best. The plot of LET ME IN is the same, the kills are based around the same scenarios, and in some sequences, it's shot-for-shot from the original. But what Matt Reeves brings to the table is his own unique spin on all those elements - the story, the kills, and the shot-for-shots.

It's all about the visuals for Reeves. The man took his time to make sure not to upset fans of the original and to honor it with his work in LET ME IN. There's a particularly fresh scene in the film that will not leave my mind. It involves one single take, one car, and one major crash, which all turns the events of the film. It's one of the most intense car crashes I've ever seen committed to film. "Holy shit" is the only phrase that comes to my mind to describe it - it's that much of a show-stopper.

One thing I really appreciated about LET ME IN was Reeves' more intimate focus on Richard Jenkins' character, The Father. This is a man who genuinely loved Abby and dedicated his entire life to seeing that she gets her blood without her having to destroy her own innocence in its pursuit. Jenkins finely displayed the sloppiness that an aging soul will start to embody when growing both tired and hungry for all the madness to end.

Some people might not give LET ME IN a chance solely based on it being a remake of a beloved original. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN grew a pretty large fanbase for itself after hitting the U.S., so skipping this so it "doesn't ruin the original" might seem logical. I assure you, however, this is one of the best film of its kind in the recent years. It's not better than the original, but that's not what Reeves set out to do - the man wanted to make a solid film and he did just that with LET ME IN.

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  • Googergieger

    Did you read the book?

  • Googergieger

    Did you read the book?

  • Ryobe2k5

    The original is one of my favorite movies, so i really appreciate the review for not only giving slight comparisons to it, but also reviewing the film as a stand alone work. I’m interested to see how Reeves will further develop the “father” character. Will definitely see this one in theaters.

  • http://www.twitter.com/chasewhale Chase Whale

    Hey thank you. I truly feel like this deserves a fair chance.

  • Christopherllongoria

    Seen The Original…cant wait for this one…especially because of Chloe Moretz she’s a great little actress!!!

  • Bhaalspawn

    *SPOILERS*

    Thanks for the fair and impartial review, Chase.

    Personally, I’m still undecided on whether or not I want to see this film. My ambivalence actually stems from the changes made to the ‘father’ character.

    Depending on how you interpreted the original film (and what you know of the book), Reeve’s decision to make the ‘father’ a former childhood companion of Abby’s could dramatically alter the story and the characters. In the book, the ‘father’ is an unemployed pedophile recruited a few years before the start of LTROI’s story. In the movie, his origins are never really addressed… though the film does drop subtle hints about his relationship with Abby (mostly via facial reactions and his choice of victims).

    There were two interpretations to the original movie: Abby found a kindred spirit in Owen, or Abby found a suitable thrall in Owen. Owen might be her first friend since turning, or Owen might be the next in a cyclical pattern of exploitation. The first film was purposefully ambiguous… yet Reeve’s changes seem to indicate the latter interpretation.

    If I’d never seen the original first I could totally see myself getting behind Reeve’s remake… but I did see the original, and I walked away with a different interpretation than Reeve did…

    For me, deciding if I want to see LMI is sort of like deciding whether or not I want to watch a Return of the Jedi remake where Luke joins the dark side at the end. It could be a great film in its own right, but the prospect of a significant change in character just rubs me the wrong way.

  • Bhaalspawn

    *SPOILERS*

    Thanks for the fair and impartial review, Chase.

    Personally, I’m still undecided on whether or not I want to see this film. My ambivalence actually stems from the changes made to the ‘father’ character.

    Depending on how you interpreted the original film (and what you know of the book), Reeve’s decision to make the ‘father’ a former childhood companion of Abby’s could dramatically alter the story and the characters. In the book, the ‘father’ is an unemployed pedophile recruited a few years before the start of LTROI’s story. In the movie, his origins are never really addressed… though the film does drop subtle hints about his relationship with Abby (mostly via facial reactions and his choice of victims).

    There were two interpretations to the original movie: Abby found a kindred spirit in Owen, or Abby found a suitable thrall in Owen. Owen might be her first friend since turning, or Owen might be the next in a cyclical pattern of exploitation. The first film was purposefully ambiguous… yet Reeve’s changes seem to indicate the latter interpretation.

    If I’d never seen the original first I could totally see myself getting behind Reeve’s remake… but I did see the original, and I walked away with a different interpretation than Reeve did…

    For me, deciding if I want to see LMI is sort of like deciding whether or not I want to watch a Return of the Jedi remake where Luke joins the dark side at the end. It could be a great film in its own right, but the prospect of a significant change in character just rubs me the wrong way.

  • Ryan

    I Don’t think its fair to say that this isn’t better then the original. For me it could very well be. I thought LTROI was good. Not great, but good.

  • Anonymous

    So the father is a former friend? That really perverts the source material quite a bit, as in the book he was just being used as a means to an end. Oskar on the other hand was a genuine friendship.

    Lindqvist has said that he wasn’t thrilled about some people’s interpretation that Eli was using Oskar to fill Hakan’s role. He’s expressed plans on writing a short epilogue for one of his future books to paint a happier ending to Let the Right One In, because that’s what he intended.

    That being said, this movie looks pretty good for a second adaptation. I hope it’s as good as it looks, been looking forward to seeing it. I already have LTROI on DVD, so I don’t really care if they stray from the source.

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