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Let Me In

Let Me In

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AT first glance, it seems like folly to attempt to remake classic Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In. But upon closer inspection it appears that Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves has done a very good job.

While the original still stands as the superior version (more by virtue that it came first), Let Me In is an interesting variation that succeeds by tinkering very little with the original’s formula.

Reeves embraces the minimalist approach adopted by original director Tomas Alfredson, drops a couple of scenes that arguably didn’t work, tweaks others to make more sense, and even adds a touch more menace, while continuing to play up the themes of coming of age, young love and bullying.

Hence, the Hollywood version is actually less Hollywood than you might initially be prepared to dismiss, even though it still insists on dumbing certain aspects down for the US market.

The story remains the same: Shy, reclusive 12-year-old Owen (The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads a solitary life that’s punctuated only by the school bullies who regularly terrorise him.

But things begin to change with the arrival of girl-next-door Abby (Kick-Ass breakout star Chloe Grace Moretz), who reluctantly befriends him and gives him the strength to emerge from his own fears.

Abby’s arrival, however, coincides with a series of gruesome murders in the area , leading Owen to suspect that she may not be all she seems.

Reeves film undoubtedly works best for those who haven’t seen the Swedish original (of whom I’m sure there will be many), but it still has plenty to recommend to those who have.

The director’s decision to play up the more sinister elements of the story lends the film an even creepier feel than the original, forcing viewers to question Abby’s motives far more than in the original.

The minimalist approach, meanwhile, allows a sense of tension to build, which is often punctuated by moments of startling violence.

The performances are also top-notch, with both Smit-McPhee and Moretz building on fast-growing reputations as the kids at the centre of proceedings. Their relationship is utterly believable, yet open to interpretation – especially from Abby’s point of view.

Richard Jenkins, meanwhile, brings typical brilliance to the role of Abby’s protector, while Elias Koteas is good – if under-used – in the new role of the detective investigating the town murders.

Reeves also deserves credit for employing common sense to where to change things from the original. He drops the infamous cat attack sequence and makes the capture of the Jenkins’ character much more believable – indeed, it serves as one of the movie’s most memorable set pieces.

If there are criticisms, his use of special effects is perhaps a little overdone, with the vampire attack sequences looking unrealistic and coming at the expense of the film’s reality.

While he could perhaps have expanded a little more on both the Koteas character and the relationship between Jenkins and Moretz, given the fact he has lured an actor of Jenkins’ quality.

But in the main, this is a stylish, provocative and deeply chilling film that proves emphatically that not all Hollywood remakes are a bad idea.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: March 14, 2011