LET ME IN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee,
Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas
Director: Matt Reeves
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: February 1, 2011
“Is there such thing as evil?”
“Evil” may be too strong a word, but there definitely NEEDS to be a word for Hollywood's forever trend of taking an absolutely perfect foreign film and deciding that they can do it better. “Hubris”, maybe?
Let the Right One In was one of those rare movies that almost defied description and categorization. In my review of it, I called it the greatest vampire film ever, but that's the kind of praise that seems underhanded. It was simply my own ineptness trying to sum up something that transfixed and moved me like few pictures these days have the power to do.
I only wish once in a while a Hollywood studio would see a film like that and decide to throw a little money behind promoting IT instead of to remake it. The new millennium's cinematic landscape is absolutely littered with Hollywood remakes of horror films, many of which have come to us from other shores.
Let Me In, seen entirely without the prejudice of having seen the original and much better film, is a good piece of work. I wish I had the capacity to judge it only for its own merits and faults, but film critics don't operate inside a vacuum. I can't temporarily unsee Let the Right One In to give this remake a fresh look because that would be “fair”. All I can do is shake my head sadly in disbelief time and time again as shot after shot was so close to the original as to make trying NOT to compare impossible, and thereby setting itself up for failure.
The two young leads, as were the ones in the original, are impressive. Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as Owen, a twelve-year-old boy living in a New Mexico winter in the 1980s, tormented by bullies and suffering through his parents' divorce battle. Okay, if nothing else, I have to admit...I never knew New Mexico had snowfall before seeing this picture.
It all begins to change when a mysterious and melancholy little girl named Abby (Moretz) moves next door with an older man (her father?). They meet on the playground of their apartment complex after dark. Abby wears no shoes and smells funny. She tells Owen they can't be friends.
I'll take a leap of faith and assume I'm not spoiling anything...the trailers gave away plenty. Abby is a vampire and needs blood to live. The man she lives with has obviously been with her a long time, helping to supply her with blood by killing others so Abby doesn't have to, but becoming worse and worse at it. And as she does indeed become friends with Owen, Owen starts to find the strength within himself to face his adversities.
I was at least relieved to see that the movie really didn't take the direction that the trailer hinted at, which went out of its way to convince potential audiences that this was going to be nothing more than a very by-the-numbers vampire horror film. This story is anything but that. Matt Reeves obviously loved the original, because his remake is faithful to the point of becoming completely unnecessary.
What's missing are the moments of truth and revelation between two kids with troubled worlds and their explorations of it and themselves together. The words are right, and the young actors are right. I suppose it suggests that the real magic of movies exists not on the printed page or on the screen, but somewhere between the screen and our own eyes.
I admit I would probably offer this picture great praise if I hadn't seen the original so many, many times, but as I already mentioned, that's not an option. “Unbiased opinion” is what reviewers are expected to offer, but that's an oxymoron. Of course our opinions are biased, and shaped by the experiences of our lives, whether it's the people we know, the places we've been, or the movies we've seen.
If you've never seen Let the Right One In, you might be in for a memorable and fresh experience with Let Me In. In that respect, I somewhat envy you.
This is a solid anamorphic transfer from Anchor Bay that delivers well with the abundance of bright, white snowscapes and multitude of dark night scenes. A few of those do exhibit a little bit of grain from the film stock, but overall, the clarity and crispness of the high definition images rings through beautifully.
This is a particularly good HD audio offering, one where the soundscape ranges from subtle to overwhelming. I was particularly impressed with just how deep some of the remote channels seemed to go...as if the sounds were even farther left and right than where my speakers were placed. Nicely done!
The extras start with a commentary by writer/director Reeves, along with a look at the making of the movie. There are featurettes on both the special effects and the car crash sequence (and here's genuine praise: this is THE greatest car crash sequence I've ever seen on film. No hyperbole. EVER.). There are some unrated deleted scenes, the original green and red band trailers, plus a poster and stills gallery. Exclusive to Blu-ray is the special “Dissecting Let Me In”.
Rounding out is a new comic book and a bonus digital copy disc.
Many unfamiliar with the original movie will champion Let Me In as a stunning new chapter in horror, and I have no desire to rain on that parade. I will, however, politely but firmly suggest that chapter had already been written, and nudge you sincerely toward a truly mesmerizing and unique horror offering in Let the Right One In. Don't be put off by the subtitles...what happens underneath them is a magic few films even hope to achieve.