Let Me In is a 2010 Romantic/Horror remake of the 2008 Swedish horror film Let the Right One In. The 2008 original is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by John Ajvide Linqvist. Let Me In met with wide critical acclaim after its initial release for good reason. With an incredibly strong cast, dark and haunting atmosphere, strong cinematography and a memorable story. None of these things surprise me as the production company that made this adaptation was Hammer Film Productions famous for their Gothic horror films of the 1950s through the 1970s.
Let Me In follows 12-year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is marginalized, neglected and bullied. Owen is also a voyeur often spying on his neighbors from the safety of his room with a telescope. Owen befriends his new neighbor Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), who recently moved in next door with her father (Richard Jenkins). Abby is just a sad and seemingly also neglected, the two become friends often communicating through Morse Code through the wall. Owen opens up to Abby telling her the truth of being bullied. Something he never mentions to his mother, who is too preoccupied with the divorce to notice. Abby’s father commits a murder and drains the main of his blood, but accidentally spills. We learn the blood is for Abby, who now hungry ends up feeding on one of the neighbors while he is out for a jog, revealing she is a vampire. Abby’s father goes out again hiding in the back of a car, but things go awry and the car crashes. To prevent being identified and leading the police back to Abby he pours acid on his face disfiguring himself. Abby visits her father via his window and he offers himself to feed her. Abby drinks causing her father to pass out and fall to his death. She then visits owned and asks that verbally invite her in. Later that night after tasting a drop of Owen’s blood, Abby leaves and feeds on another neighbor and the attack is witnessed by her boyfriend. We learn that Abby’s father wasn’t really her father and eventually a Detective (Elisa Koteas) who has been investing the murders committed by Abby’s father tracks down his apartment. He’s attacked by Abby, who feeds while Owen watches. She then tells Owen she has to leave and does so shortly after. The next day Owen is attacked by bullies at his school while swimming. As the bullies are holding him under the water, the boys start screaming and the water becomes cloudy with the blood of the bullies. Abby returned to save Owen leading to the film’s conclusion.
I’m a big fan of this film, though admittedly I’ve never seen the original or read the book on which the two films are adapted. But from what my friends have told the film has numerous differences from the book and from the ones they told me the changes make a lot of sense. One that stands out is in the novel Abby is a boy who was castrated at the time of being turned. This is referenced slightly in the film when Abby asks Owen if he would still like her if she wasn’t a girl.
The cast is what made me see this film. I’m not the biggest fan of the vampire sub-genre. But when I saw a film that starred Chloe Grace Moretz who I was familiar with from her role as Hit Girl in Kick Ass and Elisa Koteas, who played Casey Jones in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a Detective hot on the case I was sold. The film also boasts Richard Jenkins, who I recognized from a handful of other roles. It was this one that made me a fan and I was absolutely delighted to see him Cabin in the Woods and have gone out my way to see a few of his films since then.
I do have some complaints though. Mainly it’s that I find the character of Owen to be completely unsympathetic. I understand he’s going through a lot for a kid, his parents are splitting up, he’s being picked on at school and lacks any friendships. But when we first see him he’s wearing a mask and threatening himself, he’s also a peeping tom. Not a good combination to make a character likeable. The other issue that I don’t feel was intentional on the part of the filmmakers is that Elisa Koteas is also the voice of Owens father John. This is an issue as I find Koteas has a distinctive voice. Although it could just be I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so much as a child his voice is ground in. The issue with this as the Detective goes unnamed in the film I correlate the two on some level. That the Detective is Owen’s father, so when Owen leaves him to die at the hands of Abby it’s extra unsettling. This makes me go from simply not enjoying Owen’s character to hating him.
Final thoughts, if you haven’t seen it do so. I’m by no means the first reviewer to give this film glowing reviews and that for very good reason. The atmosphere is haunting and keeps you immersed. The pacing is perfectly done with the film never dragging, which for me is a problem with many films in the sub-genre. But it’s the story that’s the best part, Let the Right One In is on my to read list and has been for a while as it keeps getting knocked down the list. But after writing this review that’s an issue I might soon address. Let Me In gets a well deserved 8.5/10.