When I first heard of “Let the Right One In” back in 2008, I was overjoyed to learn of the existence of a vampire film hailed as the antithesis of “Twilight’s” complete ruination of the genre. I was even more overjoyed to find that it met all the hype that preceded it. Here was a film that not only treated Vampirism as the greatest of all curses, but did so through a twisted love story that interjected beauty in places that it had no business being in.Â
This was a movie that was so much better than Twilight, and yet was completely outshadowed by it. “Let the Right One In” was a highly original and well made film, while Twilight was a completely unoriginal and poorly made one.Â
In response to the critical acclaim and success of a vampire film that contained intelligence, Hollywood decided to use it’s vast resources to create it’s own original vampire based property that stood on it’s own writing strengths and directorial merit
Sound off? That’s because it never happened. Hollywood is largely incapable of doing something like that, and instead, the bought the rights to remake “Let
When I first heard of "Let the Right One In" back in 2008, I was overjoyed to learn of the existence of a vampire film hailed as the antithesis of "Twilight's" complete ruination of the genre. I was even more overjoyed to find that it met all the hype that preceded it. Here was a film that not only treated Vampirism as the greatest of all curses, but did so through a twisted love story that interjected beauty in places that it had no business being in.
This was a movie that was so much better than Twilight, and yet was completely outshadowed by it. "Let the Right One In" was a highly original and well made film, while Twilight was a completely unoriginal and poorly made one.
In response to the critical acclaim and success of a vampire film that contained intelligence, Hollywood decided to use it's vast resources to create it's own original vampire based property that stood on it's own writing strengths and directorial merit
Sound off? That's because it never happened. Hollywood is largely incapable of doing something like that, and instead, the bought the rights to remake "Let the Right One In".
The result was fan outrage. Why remake a film that had hardly aged a year, especially when it was so perfect? To appeal to people too lazy to read subtitles? To cash in on an already successful property? To cement Hollywood's reputation as the complete ruiner of any film fan's dearest dreams?
The remake, titled "Let Me In" ended up being something no one expected. A good film.
How did that happen? That's what I intend to find out due to me having nothing better to do with my life. I will review "Let Me In" and "Let the Right One In" in two separate parts, and will wrap it all up with a comparative analysis that dissects the major elements of each film and shows which one ultimately comes out on top.
Part 1: Let Me In
It's clear from it's beginning moments that “Let Me In” is it's own animal. We're treated to a fast paced ambulance ride, navigating a dark road through a snow storm. Within the ambulance is a man suffering from severe acidic burns that have rendered him completely unrecognizable. In the background, a TV is showing Ronald Reagan delivering a speech on the evils of the world.
When this film was first announced, fans of the original Swedish film(in which this movie is a remake of) felt that it was the result of profit hungry Hollywood studios hoping to cash in on the original's success. Before I go on further, I can assure you that “Let Me In” not only makes it's new identity apparent within this beginning scene, it mostly maintains it throughout the film.
“Let Me In” takes place during the 80s in a quiet town located in New Mexico. It's one of those small population towns where everyone walks the streets stone faced, eyes off each other, all of them enveloped within their own loneliness.
As with all horror films, we're treated with an extremely troubled protagonist named Owen. Unlike most horror films though, the protagonist is a child.
Owen is the victim of a trio of sadistic bullies, at home his mother pays much more attention to the nasty divorce she's in than she does Owen. Not once in the film do we see her face, and it seems as if Owen never makes the effort to even look at her.
To pass the time, Owen spies on other people within his apartment complex through a telescope in his window, and one night, he notices the arrival of a girl and a middle aged man, who move in next door to him. Needless to say, Owen eventually befriends this girl, and their relationship is the film's centerpiece.
While the relationship achieves complete believability thanks to the extremely talented child actors, Kodi Smit-Mcphee(Owen) and Chloe Moretz(Abby), it's initial momentum is stunted by editing issues. Their beginning scenes, which should mirror Abby's reluctance to befriend Owen go by far too quickly and end far too abruptly. As noted, Kodi and Chloe completely succeed at portraying the latter depths of this relationship, but the film itself isn't that successful in showing the journey to that point.
The film's first half in general suffers from this type of issue. In one glaring case, Richard Jenkins plays an unnamed character, tasked with murdering victims and harboring their blood for Abby. Abby may be powerful enough to stalk any victim she wishes, but Let Me In is set in a realistic world, and leaving a series of blood drained corpses in the streets will draw the exact kind of attention that Abby doesn't need.
It's because of this that Richard Jenkins's character is so vital, and yet, the movie treats him as a mere afterthought. He is given less than five lines throughout the film, and the majority of them are clunky sounding and expository. An attempt is made to make this character seem more competent and terrifying than his Swedish counterpart Hakan, and yet, the opposite effect takes place. This is mostly due to Matt Reeves implementing a new killing style for the character that is mind bogglingly stupid, and serves as more of a scary visual gimmick than a truly terrifying and realistic method.
The directing in general seems to hurt the film stylistically. In his debut feature film, Cloverfield, Matthew Reeves provided a monster movie more fresh and highly energized than anything the genre had seen for years(In American film at least). In Let Me In, he includes sequences that are more terrifying in their imagery than they are in concept. There is a long take in this film as well done and fascinating as anything seen in films with similar shots, such as Children of Men and Goodfellas, but the scene itself feels out of place. Too much attention is given to it considering the characters involved, and later in the film when certain sequences fall completely flat either due to poor CGI or flawed directing, you'll wonder why the same amount of attention wasn't put into more important scenes.
On top of that, the highly kinetic nature of that take(and the beginning scene) feel out of place in what is mostly an introspective movie. Why are we being treated to highly suspenseful scenes involving unimportant characters when the earlier scenes involving the relationships of the two main characters are abruptly cut to trim the film's run time?
Let Me In attempts to make the American location relevant within the film's themes and never really succeeds. The existence of Abby is a morally ambiguous one as is the nature of Owen's relationship with her. This is a film that tasks us to root for a vampire who feeds on innocents while hoping that the innocent Police Detective fails in his attempts to make his city a safer place, and while it's possible to lightly link these themes to the era of Vietnam and Watergate, the connection never feels very strong.
Let Me In is a truly disturbing, haunting and tragic film that never quite achieves the poetic beauty that it strives for. Strong source material and fantastic acting carry the film , but everything else involved doesn't quite reach that level, while still achieving varying levels of success on it's own. It' not the retarded and deformed “Let the Right One In” clone that everyone thought it'd be. It's much more accurate to say that it's like a twin of “Let the Right One In”, you can look at both of them and see the same face, but which one you like better is something that's totally up to who you are and what you like in a person.
So "Let Me In" is actually a great film in his own right, and it pretty much solidifies Matthew Reeves as a director who can generally be relied upon to produce actual good movies. If that's not good, I don't know what is.
If we're going to compare the two though, we also need to look at what made "Light the Right One In" so great.
Part two of the three part analysis is coming Saturday morning.