Fantastic Fest 2010: Let Me In Review
Like many, or most I moaned at the idea that a US remake of the spectacular Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. All sorts of fears began to rise as to what they would do with it as the original, and the book touch on issues that are quite taboo in the US, especially in commercial cinema. What I hoped they would do was to do a fresh take on the book and maybe include some of the elements that were not used in the original film. That unfortunately didn't happen but what they did was to make a successful remake of the film, rather than adapting the book again.
So the story is in most part exactly the same aside from the subplots that are in the original are completely removed so the story focuses almost entirely on the kids. One of the biggest changes is that the character of the alcoholic who starts to investigate the murders in the original has been changed in to a police man played by Elias Koteas.
I'm sure that many will complain over those elements being left out but it doesn't hurt the main story of the film. Just makes it more easily digestible for mainstream audiences by focusing on one thing. This is no longer an art-house film but manages to balance the commercial sensibilities and the art-house quite well so it should satisfy both groups.
The thing that does weaken the film in my opinion is the exclusion of the pedophile elements of Richard Jenkins unnamed character. His arc is therefor less tragic as it's never explained where he comes from or why he is helping her out. Abby's gender questions are dealt with with one sentence and of course the famous half a second shot in the original is completely removed and we are left with a sort of reaction shot of Owen but it's never addressed again. Owen's parental issues are distilled to an almost unseen alcoholic mother who's face you never see.
And if you thought the cat sequence in the original looked weak because of poorly executed CGI then you will roll your eyes over the quite unnecessary use of CGI when Abby goes on the prowl. I'm not sure what the thinking was there.
I know so far it seems like this review is quite negative but these are minor quips as Matt Reeves manages to create a somber and gloomy atmosphere that is very much american, placing it in New Mexico and peppering the scenery with American 80's iconography. As a Scandinavian I connected more to the atmosphere in the original, knowing very well the look and feel of the surroundings so the snow covered desert setting didn't grab me as such, but that's a given really. The performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz are strong and the rest of the cast is good as well, I was especially pleased with Dylan Minnette who plays the main bully in Owen's class. Kid was scary.
When I saw Kodi Smit in person after the screening I wondered if he would have been a better choice for the role of Abby.
This remake is in no way a better film than the original but it's not the "blasphemy" everybody thought it would be either. I'm glad that while the studio feels the need to "dumb it down" for American audiences they got someone smart to do it. Let Me In delivers the good quite well.