Let Me In is one of the most beautiful films of the year. It is based on the Swedish film, Let The Right One In, which was released two years ago to monumental acclaim from both critics and art-house audiences alike. This touching story, concerning a young man’s crush on a 12 year old vampire named Eli, captured the hearts and minds of everyone who was lucky enough to see it. If Ingmar Bergman were to direct a vampire-themed film, it would look a lot like this. However, one should not think of the film as yet another entry into the recent “vampire” craze. It is much more than that. This is the film that Twilight only wishes that it could be.
The remake deviates structurally from the original, only in that the opening is a bit different, and a few minor characters have been altered or dropped altogether. The integrity of the storytelling remains intact, and as a result, much of the remake resembles the original in all of its snow-drenched glory.
Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Owen, a lonely young man who is constantly bullied at school in the most brutal fashion. He spends his evenings at home playing with knives, and spying on the attractive neighbor next door. In addition to these disturbing quirks, he has an almost addictive fondness for Now and Laters, and constantly eats the candy throughout the film. Chloe Moretz plays Abby, a young girl who moves in next door with a man that we initially assume is her father. In a tender scene, Owen and Abby meet on the playground one night, and bond over the intricacies of a Rubik’s Cube. Soon, Owen develops a crush on his new friend, oblivious that Abby is really a vampire, and that her “dad” is in fact a serial killer, who creeps out into the night, stalking and killing random victims in order to bring buckets of blood back to Abby, in order that she will survive.
Meanwhile, an older cop tries to figure out who the mysterious killer is, as the bodies continue to surface. As far as Owen is concerned, the bullying still continues at school, but with a little advice from Abby, and a little bit of weight training, Owen realizes that he can stand up for himself in one of the film’s most shocking – and darkly comic – sequences. It doesn’t take long for Owen to realize who and what Abby really is. In all of his fright and confusion, he decides to stay by her side, and as a result, Abby vows to protect Owen in the only way that she knows how.
Both of the leads deserve Oscar nominations for their layered performances. The cinematography is breathtaking. The score is beautiful, although there are moments in the film that could do without a background score. This is my only criticism of this otherwise perfect film. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) has crafted a worthy tribute with Let Me In.