Let Me In Review
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In case you haven’t noticed, vampires have been popping up just about everywhere lately—in books, in theaters, on TV. But instead of horror movie villains, they’ve become romantic leads, moving into normal neighborhoods and falling in love with normal teenagers. In a way, the same can be said of Let Me In, the remake of the 2008 Swedish thriller, Let the Right One In: it’s the story of a vampire who moves into a normal neighborhood and befriends a normal little boy. But the result is (fortunately) much darker and more haunting than anything you’ll find in a Twilight movie.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) stars as Owen, a lonely twelve-year-old who’s bullied at school and ignored at home. Every night, he sits alone in his apartment complex’s courtyard, munching on candy and waiting for his mother to call him inside for dinner. But then Abby (Chloe Moretz) and her dad (Richard Jenkins) move in next door.

Abby is a strange girl. She never wears shoes, and she only comes out at night. Still, she listens to Owen and encourages him to stand up to the bullies who torment him at school. She’s the friend he’s always wanted. But when Owen discovers Abby’s connection to a recent string of murders, he’s forced to face the terrifying truth: his new best friend isn’t human.

Let Me In is a grim and haunting thriller—which will come as a pleasant surprise to fans of the original. After all, in remaking Let the Right One In, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves could have easily gone completely over-the-top, making Let Me In slicker and campier than the original. He could have reworked the story, added more CGI, thrown in a few more vampires (and maybe a werewolf or two), and turned the whole thing into a sappy teen romance. He could have cut back on the plot and replaced it with more violence and gore. Instead, he stays true to the original (and the book on which it was based), keeping it dark and eerie and quietly ominous. And Reeves gets the atmosphere just right. The deserted, snowy surroundings make the perfect backdrop for a chilling story, and the grainy, gritty filmmaking will immediately take audiences back to the film’s ‘80s setting.

At the same time, though, Reeves tries to make the film look just a bit too authentic, using distractingly hokey effects that sometimes look a little too much like a campy ‘80s horror film. He also injects the occasional dark humor, which may fit perfectly in the typical Hollywood horror film, but it feels out of place here, in an otherwise appropriately bleak thriller.

Still, Let Me In is a brutal film—though not for the reasons you might suspect. The murders are gruesome and the violence is terrifying, but the film’s human horrors—the bullies’ relentless abuse, the parents’ tragic neglect—are often harder to watch than its supernatural horrors. And that makes Let Me In more than just another horror movie. Though this remake wasn’t exactly necessary (and I still recommend watching the original), it’s far superior to most modern vampire movies—and most Hollywood horror flicks, for that matter. Forget Team Edward; sign me up for Team Abby.

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