Fantastic Fest Review: 'Let Me In'
Lovers of Let The Right One In, I have some good news for you. Matt Reeves didn’t eff up the movie you cherish so dearly. In fact, he might have even improved upon it, even though you didn’t think such a feat was possible. Let Me In is both a chilling and poignant horror tale that doesn’t stray too far from the original adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel. Unfortunately that could also be what bites it in the ass.
I don’t hold Let The Right One In in such high regard, which is probably a positive for Let Me In viewing. I didn’t go into the theater with a chip on my shoulder or a demand to be proven wrong. What impressed me most about Let Me In were the once again compelling performances by a new cast of actors. Kodi Smit-McPhee (the boy from The Road) plays Owen, an introverted kid who’s dealing with his parents’ spiteful divorce at home and the torment of masochistic bullies at school. How he walks straight after the wedge they lay on him, I’m still trying to decipher.
Abby (Chloe Moretz) arrives at Owen’s apartment complex just in the nick of time, when he’s running low and friends and options for surviving in the locker room. The two twelve-year-olds (more or less that age, in Abby’s case) form an immediate connection on the snow-topped playground equipment in the courtyard. Owen finds it odd that Abby walks barefoot without the consequence of losing her toes, but that doesn’t stop him from opening up to her about his troubles and handing over his Rubix cube.
The troubles that plague Abby are kept from Owen, and rightly so. Her caregiver (Richard Jenkins) forges out into the Los Alamos, New Mexico cold nightly to find his vampire cross to bear some blood. But he’s getting sloppy, and what are supposed to be quick drain jobs turn into unmitigated disasters. Jenkins does a terrific job as the browbeaten, exhausted custodian of a demanding vampire child. Abby lays into him when he fails to deliver, but she can hardly be held accountable for her intense desire to drink to survive.
As Owen and Abby get closer, the bodies around them pile up, forcing the Policeman (Elias Coteas) to delve deeper into the strange happenings around town. Coteas plays the role well, but seems just as morose and tired as Jenkins. Perhaps seasonal depression is running just as rampant as vampires are in N.M.
Director and writer Matt Reeves doesn’t shy away from the emotional complexity or intense violence that made the Let The Right One In such a standout film in the genre. Alright, maybe he doesn’t shine a light on Abby’s absence of sex organs, but I promise you won’t miss that fact as much as I’m sure she does. Staying so true to the original adaptation begs the question if a remake was even necessary, but considering most remakes aren’t, I’d mar Let Me In as both a successful and worthwhile one. If you’re a fan of the material, you’ll remain a fan. If you’re brand new to it, you should find yourself drawn to Reeves’s take. If you like vampires that sparkle, the copious amounts of blood and character depth in Let Me In may frighten you.