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Let Me In’: More than just another vampire movie

Declan Sullivan | Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just to get these things out of the way upfront, “Let Me In” is a vampire movie, and it’s a remake of a Swedish-language movie “Let the Right One In” released two years ago. The plot of “Let Me In” does not stray too far from that of its Swedish predecessor. Even some of the scenes are shot and choreographed very similarly, and it does carry many tropes of the vampire genre: forbidden romance, fatal weaknesses and a desire to be normal, but at least they left out the sparkles.

That being said, even if your affinity for vampire movies is lacking, this is still a must-see movie. Everything that made the Swedish version so awesome is amped up and focused in this version, allowing the central themes of the plot to shine through: a juxtaposition of violence and love, and the tender, innocent relationship of two outsiders of society.

One of the most jarring aspects of the movie is the juxtaposition of violence and sweet-as-sugar romance.  In one particularly disturbing scene, for example, Abby (Chloë Moretz) attacks and feeds on a random man she finds — a spine-chilling moment.

However, in the next scene she is at Owen’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee), slipping in through the window and falling asleep next to him in one of the most tender moments of the movie. She also won’t let him look at her, not because of her modesty, but because she is still covered in blood. It’s that last bit that makes these scenes so intriguing and makes them something unseen in any other movie — excluding to a lesser extent “Let the Right One In,” of course.

The other major theme ties right in with the first: the common kinship of two outsiders.  Owen is a shrimpy, whimpy kid who gets bullied at school and appears to have no friends or significant relationships with anyone except his parents, and even those seem weak at best.

Abby is a vampire, which pretty much sums up her feels of isolation.  It’s clear from the start these two kindred souls will end up together; however, how that’ll happen is the journey of the movie.  The power in the relationship switches dramatically from the start to end of movie, with Owen starting out as the sad, mopey kid looking for love in the mysterious girl next door, and ending with Abby trying to get Owen to overlook her vampyric tendencies. The film climaxes in a pivotal scene with her begging Owen to just say, “You can come in.”

There are definitely times where this movie can feel a bit melodramatic, and it can slip into the absurd in places. However, for a movie about vampires in love with humans—a plot line that definitely doesn’t have the best cred recently—it navigates the waters skillfully with equal focus on the innocence of the relationship between Abby and Owen and the animalistic brutality of Abby’s concealed nature.  

Moretz and Smit-McPhee are superb in this movie, traversing heavy adult themes with the naivety of tween puppy love that comes across as totally genuine.  

Matt Reeves, directing his first feature since “Cloverfield,” does imitate many of Tomas Alfredson’s (director of “Let The Right One In”) shots and angles during the most powerful scenes. Yet he adds enough of his own to touches—including an excellent use camera focus and image blurring throughout the film—to both make this movie his own and prove that he is capable of more complex filmmaking than “Cloverfield”‘s handheld camera gimmick.  It is an awesome movie and definitely worth checking out, regardless of whether you’ve seen the original.