Let Me In Review

Based on the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In (itself an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist), Let Me In hits UK cinemas following a well-received critical (if not audience) reception in the US.

The original Swedish setting is transposed to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where a young boy named Owen (The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) is living an unhappy existence with his perpetually inebriated mother, whilst having to contend with some vicious bullying in school. His fortunes change when a young girl (Chloë Moretz) moves into the apartment next door with a mysterious parental figure. Owen soon learns that the girl is a long-time member of the undead but the two children manage to strike up a friendship regardless of this, which soon develops into a much-needed support system for both.

US Remakes of foreign film in the past have usually fallen into two camps. Either something gets lost in translation, alienating the intended audience and sullying the memories of the original, or the makers show too much reverence to the original material, failing to bring something new to the story. Let Me In successfully avoids the first trap but unfortunately falls too much into the latter.

This isn’t to say that the remake isn’t without its plus points. It’s a well-made film with some nicely judged performances and a strong sense of time and place. Director Matt Reeves also proves he can bring it down a notch after his bigger, bombastic monster feature Cloverfield, and he even manages to exorcise a couple of scenes and characters from the original which added an unnecessary  comedic atmosphere (the GC-heavy, slap stick-like cat attack sequence is thankfully absent here.)

The nagging feeling for the most part however, is that Reeves is content with replicating many of the original film’s iconic shots and scenes (the end sequence at the swimming pool offers nothing new at all, and is a inferior facsimile of the first film). The snowy Swedish landscape is even recreated here which is particularly jarring, given the location and setting. Even a new added prologue (which successfully offers an unsettling and fearful glance at a later moment in the narrative) isn’t enough to dispel a frustrating sense of deja vu. The gender ambiguity of Moretz’s character is barely touched up here either, and by casting such an obviously pretty young girl (although through no fault of the actress, who is very good here) much of the mystery and intrigue of the original is lost.

An interesting comparison piece with the original, Let Me in doesn’t do enough to truly work as a stand-alone and unique remake.

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