Thursday, October 27, 2011
2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 69: Let Me In
And now for something completely different. This movie is a remake of the much-loved (in horror circles anyway) film "Let the Right One In," which is a total revolution of the classic vampire story. Based on the book of the same name, by author John Ajvide Lindqvist, the movie burst onto the scene a few years ago and knocked everyone on their asses for changing a lot of the ways people looked at vampires. It was about a middle school kid who falls for this new girl who lives in his apartment complex, Eli, who keeps telling him she isn't a girl, and he soon discovers this is true in many subversive and shocking ways. Those who hate the movie (they exist, I assure you) bash it for being too slow and having all buildup with no action, but people like me, we were riveted by the story of the corruption of innocence, the complexity of young love, the creepiness mystery of vampirism, and we pretty much loved every minute. the book is more detailed than the movie, but in some ways I think the lack of details in the movie helps the story along. too much exposition kind of bogs things down, and having everything remain a kind of mystery helps keep me intrigued.
So as with all remakes of much-loved foreign films, lots of people wanted to hate this remake. They saw it as dumbing the story down for US audiences, and I would have agreed with them, but Chloe Grace Moretz was cast in the part of the vampire (here renamed Abby) and I knew how great she was in the movie "Kick-Ass," so I was willing to give her a chance, and the movie along with her. This is one of those rare, rare cases where both the book and the adaptation and then the remake of the adaptation are pretty much equally good, at least for me. They each have flaws, but I think they each have things they do better on their own, so I wound up liking them all equally.
First, I don't think this movie is dumbed-down. I think some aspects of the plot were made more explicit to help further the story, but it's not talky and over-explainy and it doesn't sugarcoat anything or tack on a generic "they all lived happily ever after" ending. I think this movie stayed true to the mysteriousness of Abby's condition, kept Abby's past a secret (but not in an annoying "we're editing 100 pages of text into 20 minutes" kind of way that made it seem choppy) and they kept some subversive things I thought they might change just so people didn't run from the theater screaming. Moretz is superb here (I knew she could do it) and her friend-turned-boyfriend Owen is played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (what, was there a rule that all young cast members must have three names?) does a great job making us like him and root for him even though his life is rather dark and hopeless even before Abby enters the picture.
The scenes of bullying at Owen's school are more graphic in "Let Me In" than in the original movie, and that made it hard to watch. Additionally, the climax, which takes place at Owen's school at night, is weaker in this remake than it is in the original, but it still works, and the very end, the denoument, is well done in both movies. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this remake and plan to buy it because I think it does most everything right. I suggest that fans of the original movie or of the book at least give this movie a chance. They might be pleasantly surprised.