Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Let Me In" (2010)

Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace-Moretz and Elias Koteas
Written and directed by Matt Reeves
Rated R - Language, violence, gory images
Running Time: 116 Minutes

An American remake of the Swedish film, "Let the Right One In," 2010's "Let Me In" for the most part is a rather faithful adaptation.  Though both films are based on a book, I haven't read it so I can't speak to them as adaptations of that, but I can compare the two film versions which are remarkably similar in some aspects and very different in others.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a meek 12-year-old in Los Alamos, New Mexico in the early 1980s.  Every day at school he's bullied by Kenny (Dylan Minette) and his cronies.  One day, a young girl named Abby (Chloe Grace-Moretz) moves in next door, along with an older man Owen assumes to be her father (Richard Jenkins).  Owen meets Abby one night in the courtyard of his apartment complex, and she tells him they can't be friends.   But soon enough, the two are meeting up in the courtyard every night, and despite Abby's warnings and apprehension, the two begin to grow closer.

But the truth is that Abby isn't a girl; she's a vampire.  Her 'father' is actually her servant, who goes out to make kills and bring her back blood to keep her alive.  Unfortunately, he's failed to do so, forcing Abby to go out and kill on her own.  Soon enough, a police detective (Elias Koteas) begins looking into these murders, and starts to hone in on Abby and Owen. 

It's a little difficult to review "Let Me In" in the sense that so much of what I have to say about it has already been said when I reviewed "Let the Right One In."  The story has all the same themes and points, and many scenes are similarly staged, though not shot-for-shot copies.  Owen gives Abby a Rubik's cube to play with, she vomits after eating the candy, Owen still cracks the bully with a stick on the field trip, a woman catches on fire in the hospital, and so on.  So both films hit all the same beats, but things are just slightly different enough to give each film its own identity.

In particular, there's an interesting inversion of color palette; exteriors out in the snow are shot in warm tones, while interiors are often cold.  The courtyard of the apartment complex is bathed in a strange orange glow, while Owen's school seems drab and blue.  The only major change in terms of the story or plot is the removal of the group of neighbors that eventually discover the identity of the vampire girl.  Instead that role is consolidated into Elias Koteas' detective.  This seems like a major change, at first, but the film ends up in the same place anyway so it's like taking parallel roads.

It's interesting to watch "Let Me In" as a companion piece to "Let the Right One In."  I'm not sure I can particularly say that one film is better than the other because they're so similar.  "Let Me In" is obviously quite Americanized, and even maybe a bit broader for the audience.  It moves a little bit faster and features what you might call more Hollywood music and sequences, but still feels essentially like the same film as "Let The Right One In." 

See Also
Let The Right One In