In Let Me In, we have a barely rewritten version of the Swedish language film from barely two years ago, with plenty of the same scenes and dialogue. WTF? This new version is scripted and helmed by Matt Reeves, who was responsible for the shakiest camera award with the unforgettable Cloverfield, and swaps Sweden for a snowy New Mexico and shifts the time back to 1983, which is actually semi-genius because we get to listen to a bunch of classic rock songs by David Bowie, Blue Oyster Cult and Greg Khin.
The story remains the same as a pre-pubescent bloodsucker girl befriends a geeky lonely boy picked on by bullies, and between some gruesome murders, a love story blossoms. Once again the title refers to letting the right one in through the door - but also into the heart, as deadly as that may be.
Kudos must go to casting. Richard Jenkins plays the creepy "Dad," Elias Koteas as the detective, Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) as the boy, Owen, and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) as the girl vampire, Abby. There are a few cool holdovers from the original, like the cold and detached look at adolescent loneliness and pain, making it the polar opposite to Twilight's jean-busting, teen-throb, male-model blood suckers.
Missing from the original (in addition to the cool original '80s euro-rock) was the alienation and isolation the entire town felt. Director Tomas Alfredson achieved this brilliantly by drawing out more characters, especially the seedy bar patrons/potential victims. Instead, Reeves has Owen watching people/potential victims with a telescope a la Rear Window. One bad idea in the adaptation was Owen playing with his knife in the mirror, acting like a serial killer. The original had the character fantasizing about being able to intimidate and kill his bully attackers.
Watching this version messed with my head, mostly because I was so familiar with the original and its Euro-creepiness. I couldn't tell if this American version sucked or maybe it's so rigorously reverential to its source material that it's a highly accomplished work standing on its own. Still, it's baffling that anyone would tamper with greatness. Sure, the Swedish film, which ranks as one of the strangest horror entries of the last decade, deserves to find a wider base in the U.S., but why mess with solid originality? Let Me In's only saving grace is that if people see this movie first, they might be intrigued enough to see the masterpiece.
Let Me In
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Written/ Directed by Matt Reeves