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Let Me In (2010)
Friday, October 1, 2010
Strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation.
Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Cara Buono, Sasha Barrese
"Let Me In" tells a terrifying tale about an alienated 12-year old boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is viciously bullied by his classmates and neglected by his divorcing parents.
Let Me In (2010) | Review
An American Update On The Swedish Masterpiece
In that review, I expressly avoided comparing Let Me In to its Swedish predecessor, Let The Right One In. In revisiting the film, I'd like to go ahead and delve in to some of the fascinating differences between the two. I'll let you read my previous review to get a small description of the plot and the powerful story of Let Me In.
For the record, I do think the Swedish version of the story is a better film. Let The Right One In just blew me away. I considered it the best film of that year. So when I saw Let Me In, it had a lot to live up to. But it also had almost no chance of being better, for me, because the blunt and raw impact the original story had on me could never be replaced. But Let Me In does hold up well compared against the original. It is an excellent film and is very much worth watching.
The biggest differences between the two films are the elements I'd like to delve in to, exploring the spirituality behind some of these creative decisions.
I heard something interesting from interviewing Matt Reeves, the director of Let Me In. In the original Swedish novel, the author opens the book with a powerful idea. He states that this modern, planned community was built recently, and built without churches. So the town wasn't spiritually prepared to deal with the evil events that were going to visit it. Very interesting, huh? I love the indication that, had religion been present in that small Swedish town, maybe evil wouldn't have taken such a hold there. But I also love what Matt Reeves did in bringing the story to America. Clearly our country is religious to the core. So Reeves made Owen's mother a religious person. But her faith in God is accompanied by an ever-present wine glass and a co-dependent relationship with her ex-husband, Owen's father. Religion has not "fixed" Owen's mother. And it becomes just one more argument between Owen's parents, which keep them distracted from truly loving their son. I found this addition by Reeves to be powerfully telling of how useless hollow religion can be.
The actors in Let Me In are phenomenal across the board. Reeves has been on the record that if THE right kids to play the parts couldn't be found, then he would not have made the movie. Well, he found the right kids. Kodi Smit-McPhee is a revelation as Owen, and Chloe Moritz shines as Abby. The only other adults in the film of any significance are Elias Koteas as The Policeman, and Richard Jenkins as The Father. Another improvement Reeves makes on the original film is to create a sort of "Peanuts-like" world in which adults aren't really seen or heard. This is a story about kids. So although we learn a lot about Owen's parents, we never really see his mother's face. And although we see the faces of The Policeman and The Father, we never even learn their names. Let Me In is at its strongest when it is exploring the relationship between Owen and Abby. It is a coming-of-age tale. And clearly distinguishing the "kid world" from the "adult world" was a masterstroke by Reeves.
The only area of Let Me In that I liked less than Let The Right One In had to do with the special effects. When Abby "does the deed" of vampirism, it feels like the American version fell into the trap of a bigger-is-better mindset. Abby jarringly becomes a CGI creation as she attacks/mauls/feeds on her victims. Those moments took me out of the story and disappointed me that we North Americans just can't seem to allow the same amounts of subtlety as our European filmmaking counterparts.
Let Me In looks great on Bl-ray. And the film is pretty excellent. The Blu-ray offers several behind-the-scenes featurettes, as well as a commentary by Reeves, who is a quick-thinking and intelligent man. This is a really solid Blu-ray release!
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