Dave White
Let Me In Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

Puppy love, but with lots of murder.

Who's In It: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas

The Basics: A shy, bullied middle school boy in snowy Los Alamos, New Mexico, 1983, befriends a strange girl with some very weird habits--like going barefoot in frozen temperatures and only showing her face at night--and the two embark on a quietly disturbing almost-courtship that involves him discovering her true blood-drinking needs. Meanwhile, her naturally malevolent advice gives him the confidence he needs to start hitting back when the bullies come around to deliver atomic wedgies and attempted drownings. But don't call it a Twilight bandwagon jumper, it's just the American remake of the haunting 2008 Swedish arthouse hit Let The Right One In.

What's The Deal: There was no good reason for this movie to exist beyond a lazy American disinterest in subtitles. But having said that, it's pretty great on its own. The stuff that made the original Swedish version so spooky and special has been left intact. No one shoehorns in a heartfelt speech about friendship and the chilling finale is left alone with no softening tweaks to make it more palatable, either physically or psychologically. In fact, it may be the most unsentimental depiction of childhood isolation American movies have delivered in a long time. Its heart may be yearning but heartwarmth is (mostly, wisely) left alone.

Minor Annoyances: The original was more removed, much more eerily quiet, and it created an unease you could feel at all times. This is louder, with more crashing, slamming and banging, and many more music cues. The gruesome killings are front and center instead of 50 paces away from the lens, and the strangely sexual element has been toned down. Meanwhile, this victimized American boy is less obsessed with the idea of murder than his Swedish counterpart, and he's pointedly more lost and alone. It's small stuff, designed to give American audiences more of a hook into the weirdness, but I always get irritated by those little changes that always feel, to me, like the movie's decided you're not quite sophisticated enough and might need your hand held.

Children And Their Careers, Part One: When the actor and the role fit so well together, it can be hard to know where the work begins and ends, especially with most child actors. That's the thing with both of these kids. Their mutual presence here feels effortless, almost like they both really are these characters. It doesn't hurt that Kodi Smit-McPhee has already been the damaged, easily upset kid in The Road and Chloe Moretz was a freaky adultish Hit Girl in Kick-Ass and is also about to be Emily the Strange. In other words, their management should make sure they don't both get typecast and painted into an acting corner. It's still early, obviously, but it's never too late to branch out and take control like those Fanning kids.

Historical Footnote: Hammer, the legendary British horror studio, produced this film, the first one they've done in about 30 years.
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Comments (9)

Mark - 10-01-2010 8:08 AM
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Wow, comments? Cool! I loved "Let the Right One In" and was very skeptical that this movie would be nearly as good.

HM - 10-02-2010 5:56 PM
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I am SO glad they now have a comment feature. David tries hard to be a cynical person and fails miserably. You CANNOT provide high ratings for a movie based on how well the movie compares as a remake - I went in to watch this movie, and would have tried to embrace it a bit not knowing the review ratings than knowing what it was and walking out rather disappointed. I didnt watch the original - and while I was OK with the movie putting the pieces together, I kept wonder what exactly the 4 stars was for.

Mark - 10-04-2010 2:00 PM
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Maybe don't read the reviews then.

Ryan - 10-05-2010 2:45 PM
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I read the book, loved it! Had to drive an hour and a half away to the nearest theater that had it and even though the movie changed all the names, and the PLOT, still thought it was great.

James - 10-06-2010 11:10 PM
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I liked this...it's kinda like Romeo & Juliet meets Twilight meets Interview With The Vampire...in my humble opinion...I liked the reverse Twilight thing (mortal boy falls for girl vampire), and in the movie the lead boy reads Romeo & Juliet...and the girl was precocious like Claudia in IWTV. The two leads handled the material well, too. This was definitely not for the middle school set.

Hugh - 2-02-2011 5:06 AM
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Swiss-made Let the Right One In has beautiful cinematography, wonderful pacing and imagination, unlike the USA-made Let Me In. Disgraceful remake. No taste or class.

John B - 4-14-2011 4:36 PM
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This version is clearly different from the Swedish version, but in subtle ways. It's just as weird and haunting and frightening. It is a bit more Americanized with more explicit violence and a few questions more fully answered, but both of them were excellent.

Michael - 7-15-2011 7:13 PM
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LET ME IN is a modern masterpiece. I too have seen LTROI. LMI is absolutely incredible. It is a dark, haunting, romantic film that will stay with you forever. Absolutely beautiful film.

Michael - 7-15-2011 8:21 PM
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LET ME IN is a modern masterpiece. I too have seen LTROI. LMI is absolutely incredible. It is a dark, haunting, romantic film that will stay with you forever. Absolutely beautiful film.

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