Unreal Movie Review: Let Me In

It seemed like the worst conceived remake in history. Why the hell would you reshoot a brilliant movie released only two years ago? The ability to shed subtitles was no reason to risk the integrity of Let the Right One In, and so horror fans everywhere decried the decisions loudly, and rightly.

Well, as it turns out, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves did not drop the ball. He understood that the original film is something of a horror masterpiece, and treated it with the respect it deserved. His tale of a young vampire and her friendship with a boy is as well made and acted as the first. But a necessary remake? That’s a point that still cannot be argued.

If someone gives you the blueprints of a beautiful house, you still have to be a good enough architect to put the thing together as good as the original. Here Matt Reeves swaps a bathroom for a laundry room, knocks out a wall or two, upgrades the caliber of the kitchen granite, and ends up with a beautiful finished product. But is it really that much of an accomplishment when he had the details in front of him for all the parts that mattered?

“Does it bleed? Then I’m not interested.”

I kept thinking of Watchmen while watching Let Me In. Not that the two have anything in common plot-wise, but that film also was supremely well made, yet I felt like I hadn’t really gotten anything out of it after it was over. It was as good an adaptation of the graphic novel as one could ever hope for, but having read the source material, it was so similar, there was almost nothing else to get from it in live-action format.

That problem is compounded here in Let Me In, as it’s not just a comic book being brought to life, it’s a film, and one that was made a mere two years ago at that. Yes, Reeves has changed some things, he’s added scenes and subtracted others, but it’s hard to definitively say that’s made this version “better” and it sometimes just feel like he’s changing things around just so he can say later, “see, I didn’t copy it!”

All this being said, Let Me In is a finely made movie, and unoriginality aside, is extremely well put together by Reeves and very well acted by its young stars. Reeves’ additions to the film include expanding on Abby’s (formerly Eli’s) father-type character, focusing not only on his past history with her, but also more on the trials and tribulations of feeding a young vampire. And his subtractions have probably helped the film as well, as I never understood the necessity of the underage nude scene that unexpectedly and uncomfortably cropped up in the first film. Fans might miss a few scenes, particularly a memorable one with a rather unfortunate cat, but overall the film seems to flow better than the first.

The famous pool scene is practically identical.

Eli and Oscar from the first movie have their mirrors in Abby and Owen in this one. The acting is comparable, though it’s obviously a bit easier to appreciate their roles better in English as one’s eyes aren’t constantly darting back and forth between lips and text. The Road‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee is great here, and plays the cowering, kind-hearted wimp well. Chloe Moretz is riding high off roles in 500 Days of Summer and Kick-Ass, and here her ageless face and persona here is more welcoming than her Swedish counterpart, making her transformation into monster all that more jarring.

This is a good movie, from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen the original, as quality American horror is hard to find, even if it is usually stolen from other countries. And if you have seen Let the Right One In, viewing Let Me In won’t be heartbreaking, as there’s nothing that’s an affront to the original, I just don’t think you’ll get terribly much out of it. The plot’s a bit smoother, the acting a bit more nuanced, but nothing that puts it head and shoulders above the original, and the fact that it IS good doesn’t seem like the accomplishment it should be, as most of the framework for the film was already in place.

3.5 out of 5 stars

“Attention casting directors: I can do more than just look innocent and murder people.”

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  1. The nude scene showing Eli’s scar in the original movie is a nod to the book, where Eli’s back-story is expanded, explaining that she was actually a castrated boy. They had more scenes in the movie to explain that, but those scenes where eventually cut.

  2. I’ve never seen the original but I have seen the remake. That being said, do I need to see the original? I really enjoyed the american one so will I get anything substantial from watching the original?

  3. Why can’t people just admit this movie is better than the Swedish version? They’re both adapted from the book, just because they did it first and people have boners for subtitles?

    inb4 remake rage

  4. I think it’s mainly that it was completely pointless to remake a movie, that’s great already (subtitles or not), which is only a couple of years old. Maybe if it was a movie from the 50’s, then yeah, okay, do whatever you want.

    I’m sure that if you saw the remake first, you’ll probably feel the same way the people who saw the original first, feel. In a way.

    If the original was really, really shitty, then people may not care as much. But it wasn’t.

  5. i haven’t seen the remake yet, but after seeing the trailer my first thought was “wow, that looks pretty decent” compared to the original.

    i think there will always be the purist point of view that the original is better no matter what. i am glad they remade it for american audiences. at least they didn’t remake a movie that was only a couple years old that was ALREADY IN ENGLISH IN THE FIRST PLACE (ahem…. Death at a Funeral).

    we will never be able to get the general audiences of america to stretch outside of their comfort zone and watch a foreign movie, so bringing really good movies to their attention is ok in my book.

    either way, i’m looking forward to seeing this remake.

  6. I have to wonder if the same criticisms will be made for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes out (even tho from what I read they’re going to do fake Sweedish accents which is laughable).

    I will see Let Me In eventually…Let the Right Ones in is kind of the reason I started giving foriegn movies a chance, now I wonder what I missed all those years with my fears of subtitles.

  7. Saw this article as I was trying to use the stupid aweful pointless search on the site.. (it’s really janked up) and can’t believe I never commented.. I swear I did, as I love this film.

    — The biggest difference between this version and the original movie is the American version shows the end at the beginning giving you far more insight into the couple’s relationship than you ever got from the get go with the Swedish version. I feel like it sets a darker tone that has to be made up in the American version with more blood and gore.

    Absolutely love both movies though.

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