Sunday, October 23, 2011

Let Me In

It's Halloween in a week, so it's time to get spooked. I recently watched a DVD of a moody horror movie, released in 2010:

Owen is a delicate-looking young teenager, who is bullied by a gang of three tough kids. He doesn't tell his mother, with whom he lives in a cheap apartment, because she and his dad are divorcing.

The boy is a voyeur, and watches his neighbors through a telescope. He sees an older man with a young girl. They are moving into the apartment next door. When he meets the girl, whose name is Abby, she is barefoot in snow. He asks, "Aren't you cold?"

She says, "I don't get cold."

Abby tells him she is twelve, like him, but doesn't know her birthday. "I have been twelve for a very long time."

Let Me In is a moody and deliberately paced remake of a Swedish film, Let the Right One In. The setting has been transported from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico, but the overall atmosphere of the movie looks Swedish to me. ( I haven't seen the original Swedish version of this film. I recently watched all three of the "Girl Who..." movies in their original Swedish versions, and Let Me In has a similar look of darkness and disconnect.)

We know right off that Abby is a vampire, and she sends the older man, called "The Father" in the cast listings, to get her the blood she needs to survive. Abby can get her own blood if necessary, but apparently it's his job to provide it for her. He gets it by killing. Since we see later in the movie a photo of him as a teenager next to Abby, who looks exactly the same, we know this is a relationship that has gone on a long time.

The Father is played by Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under), a fine character actor. We learn in a making-of featurette on the DVD that Jenkins came up with the idea of his character going about his business of murder wearing a garbage bag with eye holes. It adds so much to the aura of spookiness that the filmmakers agreed readily with his idea.

When you get right down to it there really isn't much in Let Me In we haven't seen in vampire movies before. The myth of vampirism, can't go out in daylight, can turn into a bat, is preserved, although the bat part is implied rather than shown. The only thing I saw in this movie I hadn't seen before is when Abby crosses the threshold into Owen's apartment without getting his permission to come in, she begins to bleed from her scalp.

The performances are great. The two young actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen and Chloƫ Grace Moretz as Abby are asked to carry the movie and do it. I'm impressed by how good they are. Richard Jenkins looks like who he portrays, an aging man who has done terrible things.

Matt Reeves co-wrote the screenplay and directed. He also directed the movie, Cloverfield, which I have reviewed a couple of times, here, and here. I thought Cloverfield was a good movie (although derivative of Japanese monster movies) with a terrible title. I also think Let Me In is derivative of several vampire movies, including Salem's Lot and the original Fright Night, and also has a terrible title. What else can I say about the title, Let Me In except it doesn't sound like a vampire movie.

Here is a trailer for Let Me In:

With the DVD you also get a well-drawn little (4 1/2" x 6 1/2") comic book. It's part 1 of 4, a preview of a mini-series from Dark Horse Comics, a prequel to the movie.


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