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Review: Let Me In (TIFF)

Sep. 13, 2010by: Chris Bumbray


PLOT: A lonely young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is befriended by an eternally twelve-year old vampire (Chloe Moretz), who travels with a mysterious adult companion (Richard Jenkins).

REVIEW: LET ME IN is a film I have conflicting opinions about. On the one hand, it's a supremely well-made piece of cinema, and one of the best American vampire movies to come out in ages. On the other hand, it's still a somewhat unnecessary film, as it's a remake of the great Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, that's so faithful, one wonders why people just can't rent the original?


Sadly, mainstream audiences seem to have a problem with subtitles, so it was inevitable LET THE RIGHT ONE IN would get remade. To that extent, director Matt Reeves has done as good a job as possible with the material, and unlike something like QUARANTINE (which was the American shot-by-shot remake of REC), LET ME IN is a good enough film to stand on it's own to a certain extent.

In fact, had I not seen the original film, I might have thought LET ME IN was some kind of masterpiece. Many of the critics I saw this with at TIFF that hadn't seen the original were totally blown away by it and I imagine the mainstream audience that's unfamiliar with the Swedish film will adore this. Heck, it might even become a classic.


For me, the Swedish original is a far better film, in that it was more subtle and original, but I still enjoyed LET ME IN quite a bit. While the Swedish film was truly an art film, LET ME IN plays more like a homage to old Amblin films from the eighties, particularly E.T. While it retains the snowbound setting of the original (taking place in Los Alamos, New Mexico), it's a much warmer looking and feeling film. It's chock full full of references to E.T, from the fact that our main character is a boy from a broken home, with an absentee father (a Spielberg hallmark). Interestingly, his mother's face is never revealed (as in E.T, where most of the adults were faceless).

Reeves is able to inject a lot of his own craft into this film, and there are enough original, and impressive scenes to make this more than a shot-by-shot remake of the original. There's a bravura car crash sequence that's jaw-droppingly good, and brilliantly conceived and shot. The cast is also uniformly excellent. In fact, one might even say the kids here (Moretz and McPhee) are better than their Swedish counterparts. Moretz in particular was a much more sympathetic presence than the young vampire in the original film, which makes this a more emotionally satisfying film to a certain extent.


I also thought the two main adult actors, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas, were phenomenal. Both are exquisite character actors, and they're as good here as they've ever been. Jenkins in particular is heartbreaking as the doomed caretaker of Moretz's young vampire. While he does some truly evil things, he never lost my sympathy, and many of his scenes with Moretz were moving, where they might have come off as creepy with anyone else in the part.

However, I did still have a few issues with LET ME IN. For one, they really milk the eighties setting, in a way that wasn't done in the original. It all gets to be a little too much, with some eighties pop song ALWAYS playing in the background (lots of Culture Club), and of course, whenever a TV's on, it's always tuned to a Ronald Reagan speech.

I also thought the musical score by Michael Giacchino was really over-wrought, and derivative of his work on LOST. A more minimalist approach would have probably been more effective, and the maudlin music is far too manipulative. He's without a doubt a talented composer, but too often the score tried to milk emotion out of every single scene, when it really should have been dialed back.

Still, I enjoyed LET ME IN a lot more than I thought I would. While I still think people should check out LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, everyone involved with LET ME IN did a great job adapting it. As far as remakes go, this is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

Extra Tidbit: As far as remakes go, I've always thought VANILLA SKY was one of the best.
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:46AM on 09/14/2010
While I liked the original, I was still let down a bit by MAJOR over-hype, both here & at AICN. And it took me a while to get a chance to see it. By the time I did, I was STOKED and then kind of said, "this is it?" It is so far from the "perfect" film so many declare it. I'll check this remake out eventually.
While I liked the original, I was still let down a bit by MAJOR over-hype, both here & at AICN. And it took me a while to get a chance to see it. By the time I did, I was STOKED and then kind of said, "this is it?" It is so far from the "perfect" film so many declare it. I'll check this remake out eventually.
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8:43PM on 09/13/2010
I was hoping this would be a good movie. Let the Right One In is one of my favorites, and I never got to see it on the big screen. I'm looking forward to seeing this one.
I was hoping this would be a good movie. Let the Right One In is one of my favorites, and I never got to see it on the big screen. I'm looking forward to seeing this one.
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6:21PM on 09/13/2010

I reserve judgment until I see it.

Hopefully this version will have enough unique scenes for me to like it in different ways. This review got me even more excited to see this. I don't understand why someone wouldn't be able to enjoy both movies.
Hopefully this version will have enough unique scenes for me to like it in different ways. This review got me even more excited to see this. I don't understand why someone wouldn't be able to enjoy both movies.
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+0
1:53PM on 09/13/2010
There are still plenty of scenes in the original that I am still not sure if they were supposed to be intentionally funny or not.
There are still plenty of scenes in the original that I am still not sure if they were supposed to be intentionally funny or not.
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1:26PM on 09/13/2010

double post

dammit...
dammit...
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1:23PM on 09/13/2010

THE ROAD

just watched The Road last night and while I love Morezt and Jenkins, I'm most excited to see how Mcphee does. He was absolutely heartbreaking in The Road. He's talented beyond his years.
just watched The Road last night and while I love Morezt and Jenkins, I'm most excited to see how Mcphee does. He was absolutely heartbreaking in The Road. He's talented beyond his years.
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1:19PM on 09/13/2010

?

Well as long as it is as good of a remake as "The Ring".That's the last remake that I could actually praise...well there was also "Quarantine" and I'm not to sure if "Inglorious Bastards" was a remake?
Hell what am I saying,"The Departed" was awesome!
Well as long as it is as good of a remake as "The Ring".That's the last remake that I could actually praise...well there was also "Quarantine" and I'm not to sure if "Inglorious Bastards" was a remake?
Hell what am I saying,"The Departed" was awesome!
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12:55PM on 09/13/2010

People being very idiotic

"This thing can't possibly be better than the original!" "The original was so perfect."

I hate reading things like that because people need to seriously get their heads out of their asses. Let the Right One In was a beautiful film when it came to just Oscar and Eli, otherwise the characters around them were laughable--especially that terrible cat scene. I'm excited to see this remake and reading these reviews just excite me even more.
"This thing can't possibly be better than the original!" "The original was so perfect."

I hate reading things like that because people need to seriously get their heads out of their asses. Let the Right One In was a beautiful film when it came to just Oscar and Eli, otherwise the characters around them were laughable--especially that terrible cat scene. I'm excited to see this remake and reading these reviews just excite me even more.
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1:24PM on 09/13/2010
That cat scene totally took me out of the film.. it was so random!
i love that film tho and I'm sure I'll love this one just as much!
That cat scene totally took me out of the film.. it was so random!
i love that film tho and I'm sure I'll love this one just as much!
-4
12:41PM on 09/13/2010

-

This can't beat the original for sure. Too unnecessary !
This can't beat the original for sure. Too unnecessary !
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10:46AM on 09/13/2010

Glad!

I thought the swedish film was brilliant and I was skeptical about the remake. I started to get a little more interested when I saw the trailer. Now that I hear the movie can stand alone and not totally shot by shot, I'll give it a shot for sure. Good review.
I thought the swedish film was brilliant and I was skeptical about the remake. I started to get a little more interested when I saw the trailer. Now that I hear the movie can stand alone and not totally shot by shot, I'll give it a shot for sure. Good review.
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10:14AM on 09/13/2010
Glad to hear that this one turns out to be a good remake.
Glad to hear that this one turns out to be a good remake.
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+2
8:46AM on 09/13/2010

The Book

Neither of these films are anything like the book, They seem to have extracted the vampire bit out of the book and left the rest alone. There is so much more to Richard Jenkins' character, so much more to the vampire 'herself'. While the Swedish film was incredible (Watch It Now On Netflix), it is sadly lacking in telling the story, but rather tells a watered down bit of the story.
Neither of these films are anything like the book, They seem to have extracted the vampire bit out of the book and left the rest alone. There is so much more to Richard Jenkins' character, so much more to the vampire 'herself'. While the Swedish film was incredible (Watch It Now On Netflix), it is sadly lacking in telling the story, but rather tells a watered down bit of the story.
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11:39AM on 09/13/2010
That's what I think. I absolutely loved the book and was totally underwhelmed by the original movie. It didn't capture the rhythm and the feeling I had while reading it at all. This new Version looks a lot like the old one. I'm dissapointed that they didn't do a different approach.
That's what I think. I absolutely loved the book and was totally underwhelmed by the original movie. It didn't capture the rhythm and the feeling I had while reading it at all. This new Version looks a lot like the old one. I'm dissapointed that they didn't do a different approach.
8:29AM on 09/13/2010
That's all I needed to hear. I just wanted to know that Reeves took the material and made his own film that could stand alone from the Swedish original, and not be a shot-for-shot remake (ala REC/Quarantine).
That's all I needed to hear. I just wanted to know that Reeves took the material and made his own film that could stand alone from the Swedish original, and not be a shot-for-shot remake (ala REC/Quarantine).
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