Children are creepy and not just ones from Sweden either.
When 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) befriends his mysterious next-door neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz), the two outcasts form a tight-knit bond that gives Owen the courage to stand up to school bullies. But he slowly begins to suspect his new friend has a secret.
After checking out the original Swedish classic, ‘Let the Right One In‘, I got all of these people just saying I need to check this out and what not and I have to say that having director Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield‘) didn’t really spark too much of my interest but it doesn’t do much to make me hate it anyway.
The one thing I have to say that Reeves does and he does it well is that he doesn’t try to eff around with the original, and instead gives us everything we practically saw in that one but with his own little slight takes on everything as well. Reeves creates a lot of tension within this film that got my blood really tingling and also isn’t afraid to let loose on the blood and gore when it came to the actual “action” of this film. It’s a good thing he made this flick R and didn’t try to go for a lame-o PG-13 rating, which he could have easily used as a cash grab.
The highlight of this whole film was probably my favorite car wreck I think I have ever seen in a film for a long time. Reeves keeps the camera in the back of a car, while it’s toppling over and it was a really cool thing to see because I almost felt like I was watching a video of someone on a roller-coaster, but instead I had Blue Oyster Cult playing in the background. Now adding a little bit of Blue Oyster ain’t so bad either and that scene just totally rocks.
The problem with this flick is that a lot of this is also Americanized which means instead of being a very subtle teen-horror romance there’s a lot of loud noises, driving score, and some unneeded special effects that look so bad. There is a score playing in just about every scene, just so we know that something crazy is about to go down and it was getting pretty annoying considering that it was only used to build-up tension, which it sort of did, just not as an effective way as the original did. The scares here were also pretty cheap because I constantly felt a lot of the annoying jump-scares, people jumping out of darkness, and silence-to-loudness kind of scares happen just about every time and I was less and less scared by it every time it tried to creep me out.
A lot of the scenes here that worked in the Swedish film, don’t really work all that well here because of the terrible CGI and special effects this film showed up on the screen. To put it kindly, they look cheap, and almost like they came off of a really crappy PS2 game that was around when the console first started coming out. Anytime Abby ran up a tree, attacked someone, or turned into her evil werewolf-like self, it all looked pretty crummy and although the Swedish version had its fair share of bad effects, this one had too much of them and therefore lessened my impact of the film originally.
However, as much as I may talk shit on this film I still do have to say that the story still works here even if it doesn’t feel as original as it did the first time around. The story of these two falling for each other and basically creating their own little world together, still feels genuine and beautiful without ever feeling like it was forced or taken directly from another film (which it was, but still it somehow worked).
I think the real reason why this story works so well again is because of the amazing leads they have in these roles. Kodi Smit-McPhee is very good as the silent, and sad type as Owen, and Chloe Moretz does an even better job as Abby. These two work great together and right from the beginning you can feel their chemistry just popping right off of the screen and you start to feel this little innocent and sweet love they build together. Basically, if you need a great chemistry between two young actors, just cast kids with some funky first names (Chloe and Kodi, come on!).
Richard Jenkins has about 15 lines of dialogue the whole film but is very good as the strong and silent dude who’s looking over Abby. The guy has a lot more development as a character this time and it also helps that Jenkins is just a perfect actor for the role as well. Elias Koteas is also very good as the cop who’s investigating all of these little strange murders that keep happening around town. Both aren’t really the high-lights of the story but they still show why they deserve these roles.
Consensus: Let Me In may not be as great as the Swedish classic, but it still features great performances from the cast, a surprisingly good direction from Matt Reeves, and just a great idea of not trying to mess around with the original too much but still standing on its own terms.