October 17, 2010

Review: 'Let Me In' – Remaking 'The Right One'

Let Me In is a very well-made film and worthy adaptation. However, comparisons to the original 2008 Swedish film, Let the Right One In, and the novel of which it is based are inevitable. Writer/director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) takes on the challenge of redefining the child vampire story for American audiences. He is to be commended for his total control of the material. The gentle touches and Reagan era setting fit the themes to isolation, loneliness, and abuse very well.

The acting is quite strong all around. Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) is painfully heartbreaking playing the curious and desperately lonley Owen, a product of a broken and violent bullying. Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) gives a very reserved, captivating performance as Abby. Oscar nominated actor Richard Jenkins is haunting as Abby's loyal caretaker despite only having less than a dozen lines.

Reeves' affection and care for the original source material in the book and film are clear. His deft touch and mannered direction are a little too eerily perfect. The cinematography and editing are stellar in contruction and execution. One thrilling car scene set to Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' for You" is just visually mesmerizing to watch. The film does, however, suffer from some spotty CGI limited at times that can be off putting and distraction.

Let Me In is a fine film but it is dragged down by the very recent memory of the original which still plays as much of a beloved classic as a picture released only two years ago can. It should be very curious to gage the reactions of audiences who watch the American remake before the Swedish original. I only wish Let Me In could stand more on its own apart from Let the Right One In. Scenes and shots are almost literally ripped from the original even though Reeves makes a lot of subtle changes to the story and pacing of his version.

Let Me In suceeds at creating a tight, tense, thrilling horror experience on screen as a worthy adaptation but does not define itself enough from the original to be truly remarkable.

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