VOD film review: Let Me In
Ivan Radford | On 06, Apr 2016
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Watch Let Me In online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Eat some now. Save some for later.
Life is hard when you’re a loner in Los Alamos, Mexico. Bullied at school with only sweet wrappers for company, you reach out into the darkness for any kind of connection. Sometimes the darkness reaches back. And sometimes, a bloke comes along and remakes your vampire movie for an American audience.
Owen (Smit-McPhee) is 12 years old. So is Abby (Moretz), his new neighbour. She’s been 12 for a long time. She doesn’t get cold. She doesn’t appear in the daytime. And she has an older man (Jenkins), who goes out at night and butchers teens for blood. When the two young souls meet on an icy climbing frame in Owen’s apartment complex, their relationship rapidly evolves.
Letting each other into their isolated worlds, it’s an unsettling bond to witness up close. And director Matt Reeves makes sure we do: echoing his clever framing in Cloverfield, Reeves’ camera often stays at Owen’s eye level, to the point where we feel as detached from his faceless mum as he does. It’s a neat touch, teasing out the lonely emotions from his naturally awkward cast.
Like Tomas Alfredson’s masterful Let the Right One In, things are kept tense and tender. But subtlety has jumped right out the hospital window. Mostly thanks to Michael Giacchino’s intrusive score – a rare misstep in the composer’s career. Still, in a sea of unnecessary remakes, Let Me In stands on its own two feet next to the original Swedish tale of frozen innocence. It never reaches the delicate heights of the first film’s fragile love story, but makes up for any missing grace with gore, and lots of explicit blood spillage.
Stalking through the snowy streets, Richard Jenkins’ serial killer has a rhythm to his movements, an ominous sense of momentum. At times, it’s almost more of a crime thriller than a horror – it’s telling that Reeves emphasises the role of Elias Koteas’ bewildered police detective throughout. Removing supporting characters (and the original’s infamous feline encounter), Reeves sticks to the story’s overall structure, but recasts the tale as a more conventional conflict between good cops and evil monsters. Does it take away some of your sympathy for the young ‘uns? Perhaps. Does it work? Absolutely.
It’s all thanks to the child actors, who nail their formative feelings without fudging the fear. The only major mistake is a questionable use of CGI – Abby’s transformation is now more terrifying than in the Swedish version of events, but less tragic. Going all Linda Blair with her face and vocals, her fanged form offers a strong contrast to Chloe Moretz’s angelic appearance, but one that almost overshadows it. Fortunately, Smit-McPhee has no such qualms, carrying a pang of naivety that makes him a believably vulnerable target for her clutches.
Together, the pair’s passion makes this more than just a US retread of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel. With or without the subtleties, this story should be seen by those scared of subtitles. Bringing the story to a new audience with a new, American vibe, Let Me In is something more personal than a bland remake; it’s Reeves’ own meditation on innocence and survival. Not as haunting but still horrific, Let Me In’s remade romance keeps that chilling heart beating.
Let Me In is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.