If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I do recognize that I have been out of commission for over a year now, but I've been working on other writing projects. But now I have more free-time and will try and get more reviews out there.
Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves, and starring Kodi-Smit Mcphee and Chloe Moretz, was seemingly doomed from the start. It is a remake of a 2008 Swedish film called Let The Right One In, a movie that captured many cinema goer's hearts. So naturally, the concept of an American remake was met with much hostility, even by me. But I'm here to say, now after seeing it, that I could not have been more impressed with Let Me In than I was. I walked out of the theater feeling immensely satisfied with what I have seen.
I want to clarify that calling Let Me In a remake of Let The Right One In is an incorrect statement for the following reasons: A.) Both adaptations are based on the novel (also called Let The Right One In), so Let Me In is an adaptation of the novel rather than the Swedish film. B.) Let Me In captured the core of Let The Right One In, but the way it was shot, the story development, and the character development leaves this a stand-alone movie. Let Me In and Let The Right One In are simply two very different movies just based on the same story.
The story of Let Me In is an 80's period piece that focuses on Owen (Kodi-Smit McPhee), a 12-year old boy who is the constant target of bullies and is emotionally neglected by both his mother and his father. This has resulted in him becoming withdrawn and always fantasizing about revenge on his tormentors at school. He meets Abby (Chloe Moretz), who is basically the new girl on the block, she's just moved into Owen's apartment complex, and the two begin to converse nightly outside and through morse code in each other's apartments. As the story progresses, Owen falls in love with Abby and discovers she's a vampire. Meanwhile, a string of murders have been reported in which the victim has been drained of their blood.
This story is incredibly emotinally driven by the childlike innocence and inner-torment of Owen, and the loving, caring and nurturing personality of Abby, who provides the love and affection that Owen needs in his life at that point and time. McPhee's and Moretz's chemistry is so intricate and deep that it makes the love story between the two characters very emotional and touching. Vampire love stories have been given a bad name due to the Twilight franchise (and with just cause... really, it's god awful), but this movie revives a vampire love story not seen since Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
I can't write this review and talk about the superb casting job. I've already discussed the profound and superb chemistry and inter-personal character development of Kodi-Smit McPhee and Chloe Moretz, but there are more actors that deserve discussion. First, I need to say that the adults in this film are unnamed, as they bare no relevance to the story outside of what they do. Dylan Minnette plays Kenny, Owen's main antagonist and bully in the film. Now this character is a real dick, he's not likable in any light, and just a pure tormentor at heart, and Minnette portrays this so fantastically that I almost found myself hating the actor too. He is cast in a more sympathetic light towards the end though when it's revealed that he faces merciless bullying at the hands of his older brother, and is simply projecting that onto Owen. Richard Jenkins portrays the "father figure" that Abby moves in with at the beginning of the movie. The character is a serial killer who kills and drains the victim's blood so that Abby can feed. Jenkins portrays this character as a killer with a strong touch of dark tragedy to him, he's a man who loves Abby, but he also wants to stop what he's doing. Elias Koteas plays a detective investigating the murders committed by Abby's father figure (and eventually herself). Nothing is revealed about his character, but what Koteas makes clear in his portrayal is that the detective is very seasoned, good at his job, but, like Abby's father figure, is run-down and quite frusturated with his job.
The soundtrack, like the setting of the movie, is very 80's. That fact alone is probably one of the movie's hinderances. While 80's music is very good, 80's POP isn't (or at least I'm not a fan of it). That fact alone was enough to deter me from the soundtrack. But that has absolutely no reflection on the score of the film, composed by Michael Giacchino, which was nothing short of brilliance. The sound of this movie complimented the particular scenes excellently, especially the vampire attack/muder sequences, as they added that dark suspense that strikes terror in one's heart.
The lighting was accomodating to the dark nature of the film. It felt almost like watching a stage production, because the lighting emulated the focus on what needed to be focused on in a particular scene as it needed to be focused on, like a spotlight. It was dark and light as it needed to be for scene accomodation. I can't think of a single moment where the lighting was overused or felt out of place. It was very artistic in that sense.
The CGI is the film's absolute biggest flaw. The CGI was used for Abby's supernatural movements and her face when she was feeding. Okay, first off, the movement CGI actually made me laugh, which drew away from the darkness and horror of those particular scenes (in one instance, Abby's murdered a man, in the other, Owen finds out the truth about Abby). In both of those scenes, which are supposed to have the audience or a particular character having a life-changing revelation, I was kind of chuckling due to the extremely cartoony and overly embelished CGI movement from Abby in her vampire form. Another CGI moment was Abby's face, while it was actually quite frightening, it was completely unnessecary. It is not a requirement for vampires to have scary faces, and this might've been one instance where not having the face would have done the film and character greater justice.
The Bottom Line:
Let Me In is a film that is worth infinitely more than full price. It has an absolutely phenomenal cast, stagelight lighting, and a story that brings about what I hope to be the revival of vampires. I won't cast the 80's Pop Music as an official flaw because that is purely a matter of personal taste, so I will state that the only flaw in this movie is what has ruined most movies since Avatar: The painfully cartoony and just flat-out stupid CGI. But because the CGI is used in very few sequences, it doesn't exactly draw away from the value of the movie. It is an extremely worthy successor to both the novel and the Swedish film (I actually prefer this to the Swedish version). It is a must-see of 2010. For me, this has beaten out Toy Story 3, but still didn't quite beat out Inception, so it's still a movie to beat.