Let Me In
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Moretz, Elias Koteas & Richard Jenkins
By Sean Driver
With cinemas filled with re-releases, remakes and vampires it seems apt to paraphrase Gordon Gecko: truly blood, for want of a better word, is good. Vampires are busy taking over the world and Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’s Let Me In is the latest in this peculiar vein. However while the source novel’s author wrote the screenplay for the Swedish original (ensuring any alterations had some legitimacy), Reeves adaptation only panders rather than amplifies. This means that while Let Me In is an enjoyable film, it’s also an inferior remake of a masterpiece. But all great vampire films aren’t really about vampires. They’re about sexual abandonment, craven urges and addictions or in this case- a boy’s coming of age tale, steeped in morality. The film reinvigorates the genre by taking it back to its origins: here vampirism is a black mass of rebirth, salvation and renounced moral codes.
Based on the 2008 Swedish film, which in turn is based on the John Alvide Linqvist novel, Reeves’s version tells the story of Owen (The Road’s Kodi Smit McPhee) as he trudges through a bleak and snow-sodden existence in early 1980’s New Mexico. Owen is a bullied and lonely voyeur with a penchant for knives- and therefore it’s not surprising that a gang of menacing bullies soon target him. It’s this suffering however that means he latches on to a mysterious new arrival in his neighborhood- the enigmatic and outwardly young Abbey (Chloë Moretz of Kick-Ass).
As their young romance blossoms, Reeves crafts an expert juxtaposition of horror and friendship set within the squalor of daily life. Characterisation beyond the two leads is intentionally minimalist and Reeves’s use of aural and visual triggers to guide the audience is intriguing but also occasionally heavy-handed. However he also eliminates a crucial ambivalence from in Owen and Abbey’s relationship in the original, which unfortunately simplifies this film beyond redemption.
But with Let Me In Reeves seems intent to puzzle the audience into an unnerving position. A scene is rarely presented clearly and instead is pieced together from close-ups of objects and an occasional landscape. This means it is rarely smooth and this combined with its sparse dialogue means the film is often distorted. Action frequently occurs on and through glass; while Elias Koteas’s weary detective surveys an inexpiably horrific crime scene, Ronald Reagan gives a televised speech proclaiming America’s triumph over evil. However this also means that the actors are given a freedom to convey the thoughts of the characters through gestures or expressions rather than expositional dialogue. And while the film does have many flaws- its cast cannot be faulted. The two leads are beyond competent as are the seasoned character actors Elias Koteas and Richard Jenkins.
While enjoyable and certainly worthy as a popular alternative to the Twilight movies, it remains highly derivative. It reproduces the best scenes exactly, adds one fantastic action sequence but loses humour, complexity and pathos. It proves that not all remakes are disasters-but also fails to prove itself necessary.
The Let Me In Trailer