Let Me In is a 2010 drama film directed by Matt Reeves. Based on the novel Lat den Rätte Komma in, and taking inspiration from the 2008 film of the same name, Let Me In tells the story of friendship and love between two young leads. In this case, the characters are played by Kodi Smit-Mcphee and Chloë Grace Moretz as Owen and Abby respectively. At the beginning of the film, Owen is told the pair can never be friends, but this ends up being subverted later, as the two gradually become closer to one another.
Seeing as how the film appears to be distancing itself from the original Swedish film, I’m going to attempt to do the same, and judge it completely based on if it stands up on its own. In short, it does a decent job at telling more or less the same story. The story is basically left in its entirety, with only the subplots switched around. If anything, the already basic story became even more basic, likely in hopes of not alienating the target audience. In this regard, I don’t see it succeeding.
Having actually gone to the theater to see this, it’s important, in my eyes anyway, to see how the audience reacted to the film. In Let Me In‘s case, the audience did not respond all that well. Whether through being uncomfortable with the subject matter, or just finding many scenes hilarious, the audience actually ended up laughing at parts that were supposed to be morbid, or even touching. This is a problem. Seeing as how the story is already simplified for the North American audience, seeing the crowd react like they did to it leaves me feeling a bit sad.
The audience laughed the most whenever the two leads got close to one another. In this retelling of the story, Abby’s gender is left alone. She is clearly a girl. However, many of the same lines hinting that she isn’t were left intact. You can still interpret them that she is trying to tell Owen that she is a vampire, but to be honest, it doesn’t really end up working that way. It seemed like they were trying to force those lines in, and without an at-the-time ambiguous gender of Abby, they didn’t fit. However, when the characters were not trying to bring in forced lines, they actually were fairly convincing.
The problems come mostly from the way the film was put together.
The first mention definitely has to go to Chloë Grace Moretz, who does as good a job as anyone in bringing the character of Abby to life. Now, before the movie came out, the director said that he asked both leads to not watch the original film. Somehow, I don’t believe Moretz took his advice. She plays Abby almost exactly how I expected her to be played, and was just about as scary as the original. Seriously, we probably have one of the most promising young stars at the moment in this film, and she does not disappoint. Kodi Smit-Mcphee, on the other hand, is less impressive. He isn’t bad necessarily bad in his role, but he’s nothing to write home about either. He’s a bullied kid, but doesn’t usually show how it is affecting him. I feel with a little better direction, his feelings could have been brought across on-screen better.
In fact, the directing may end up being one of the bigger problems the film has. The aforementioned scenes where the audience laughed could have easily been omitted, or edited to fit more with the tone Reeves was going for. His movie is definitely bloodier than the original, but the CGI that was used really took away from the experience. Whether Abby was climbing a building or feeding on a person, it just looked off somehow. The jerky movements of the character made it quite apparent that it wasn’t real. The story also felt kind of disjointed. It didn’t have a real flow to it, and events seemed to just take place, as opposed to flowing naturally.
That’s really all there is to say without directly comparing Let Me In to Let the Right One In—which I still did more than I intended. The story is more or less the same, and so is the general feel of the films. The acting is still quite good, with big props going to Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby. The problems come mostly from the way the film was put together. The CGI used looked fake for the most part, and took away from the atmosphere of the film, while the events of the story didn’t really feel connected. The fact that the story was overly simplified also didn’t seem like it did its job. At the theater I went to, the majority of the audience laughed in parts that they definitely should not have. Still, it’s worth watching, especially if you aren’t able to find the original.
Conclusion: Let Me In is inferior to the original, but still not a bad movie.
Recommendation: Watch Let the Right One In and if you want an American version then seek out this one.