REVIEW: Let Me In (2010)
I’d like to start this review with full disclosure. I haven’t seen “Let The Right One In”, the Swedish film on which this remake is based. I’ve heard good things about it and I’ve considered renting it a few times, but have just never got around to it. So this review is based on the American film itself, without the original to compare and contrast against. Thing is, I’m really glad I didn’t see the original, because I really liked “Let Me In”.
This winter story takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico, portrayed as a small, bleak town. Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, is a 12 year old boy that you just know is a little bitch who gets his ass kicked every day. In case you couldn’t grasp that, you see him get his ass kicked by some bullies. Not only is Owen bullied and fearful at school, but his parents are going through a divorce. His dad has moved away and his mom is absent, physically and emotionally. So Owen spends a lot of time alone, humming to himself on the jungle gym in the quad of the apartment building he lives in, eating Now + Laters, which for the record are absolutely tart and delicious. It’s on that very jungle gym that he meets Abby, played by Chloe Moretz.
Abby is a girl seemingly around Owen’s age who moves into the apartment building in the middle of the night with an older man who appears to be her father. Abby’s a little strange herself. She walks around in the snow barefoot and tells Owen right away that they can’t be friends. Of course they become friends and we discover Abby’s secret. She’s a vampire and the guy who appears to be her father serves as her daytime protector and nighttime procurer. So as the friendship between Abby and Owen grows, we see Owen become more confident, beginning to stand up for himself against the bullies and we, as viewers, know it’s only a matter of time before he learns her dark secret. How will he react when he does?
I won’t say anymore, because I really feel the film’s worth watching. It has a rather deliberate pace, that some may seem offputting to some, but I think it’s pitch-perfect. Matt Reeves should be applauded for taking his time telling the story, for letting the relationship between Abby and Owen take shape and strengthen. As a rule, I hate child actors. They usually are one-note or unconvincing, but Moretz and Smit-McPhee are engaging, young actors, both displaying talent beyond their years. I was especially surprised at how Moretz was able to toss the over the top precociousness she displayed in Kick Ass out the window for this film. The friendship that grows between the two is believable and unfolds realistically, never feeling rushed or forced to get to the next point in the story, because that bond IS the story. There’s an innocence and sweetness watching these two interact that makes the savagery of Moretz’ vampiric side all the more unsettling. I particularly like that even though Abby is decades old, not only does she physically appear to be 12, but emotionally and socially she is as well. She’s awkward, shy and isolated, all necessities to insure her survival all of these years, but Owen extends the branch that allows her to open herself up to him, knowing all too well the horror that can result from doing so.
I have to mention that Richard Jenkins’ performance as Abby’s procurer is good as well. The weight of the years looking after Abby and killing for her shows in his posture and face. Disgusted with himself and with what his life has become, angry with Abby for her part in that, he still softens at a look and a touch from her. He’s one of those actors you’ve seen in a million flicks, but don’t remember his name, but he’s always solid. While there are other characters in the film, these three are the only ones that matter and all three are well cast and acted.
There are a few plot holes, but for the most part, they’re easily ignored, because like I said before, Owen and Abby IS the story, but I’ll hit one right now. Why the fuck are all these kids in school at night? There’s literally 30 kids in some sort of gym class at night and I’m not just talking dusk. I mean night. Maybe it was explained, but never to my satisfaction. The film is set in the ’80s and while at first I thought it was just a device to throw in a few nods to the era, it actually protects the story in some ways. Technology and laws that we have in place since that era would have made things a lot more difficult for the characters in certain situations. You can figure out what they are.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I really liked this movie. It’s not the standard horror movie you see this time of year. Not a lot of jump scares or kills. It’s a sweet story about two loner kids finding comfort in one another and one of them occasionally kills people to drink their blood.
My grade: B+