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Another Take From Zac, Local

Another Take By Zac: Film Review: Let Me In

October 2, 2010 /  by  
 

Let Me In is one of the most successful foreign film adaptations ever and it does that by pulling from both the source novel and the film to give itself enough of its own identity to forget about the original film, Let the Right One In, if you have seen it.

Reviewing Matt Reeves’ film is a tough endeavor for me as I love the original film by Tomas Alfredson, and you should check it out if you haven’t as it is streaming on Netflix, and I can’t help but compare the two films here.  I hopefully will convey a stand alone opinion of Let Me In by the end of this review. Reeves’ film is intense, atmospheric, and doesn’t stray too far away from the original film.  Having not read the book I don’t know if the differences in the films are taken from their or not but when Reeves breaks off the film still work wonderfully.

Following the story of Owen, a bullied middle school kid in snowy 1980’s New Mexico, we discover that he is helpless in his woes at school but tries to act tough and live out his retaliatory fantasies in the courtyard of his apartment complex.  A might as well be absent, in the middle of a divorce mother passes out every night over a bottle of wine and Owen is left to play “Rear Window” in his apartment complex.  Enter Abby, a young girl who moves into the apartment next door and never appears other than at night to Owen out in the courtyard.  The two slowly form a friendship, with Owen maybe wanting something even more so, but strange things begin happening around town and we find that Abby’s “caretaker” is the chief instigator of the affairs.

The film’s pacing is steady and many will show up unprepared for the films lack of action beats and tension.  First and foremost this is a story about friendship, one that just happens to be cursed with the twist that one of the friends is a vampire, and a suspenseful horror story evolves out of the circumstances.  The film ignores conventions and is a unique tale that should be replicated more in horror films nowadays.  Instead of banking on cheap scares, extreme gore, and ludicrous situations, Let Me In tries to keep things as real as possible and uses subtlety to create scares and tension.  Reeves’ does this almost shockingly well as you would never believe that this film was shot by the same guy that did Cloverfield.  Less is more is the mantra of this film and when things go to hell they are that much more shocking.

Reeves’ also assembles a sharp cast that all make the most out of what they are given in this rather minimalist picture.  One of my fav’s Richard Jenkins plays Abby’s handler and while he doesn’t have any grandstanding moments, he is solid as always and creepy as hell in plastic bag (you will know what I mean).  Chloe Moretz continues to impress as she pulls a complete 180 from her work in Kick-Ass to quietly play Abby when she interacts with Owen while unleashing a terrifying fury as she lusts for blood.  The makeup work is spectacular on her as well and she helps it come alive as she will scare the crap out of you with that look of evil.  Kodi Smit-McPhee is equally as impressive as Moretz as he creates a weird and awkward kid in Owen that slowly grows as he becomes closer to Abby.  He is seemingly brought to life by his encounters with a dead girl and the two work wonderfully together.  Elias Koteas plays the local detective and while he is only in a couple of scenes he makes his mark by perfectly playing the confounding and oddity of his investigation just right, never knowing what is going to happen next.

The only complaints I have with the film are the moments I felt were executed a bit better in the original film and Michael Giacchino’s “friendship” score didn’t really work for me.  What was that, Zac just said he didn’t like a piece of music by Giacchino?  I know, I can’t believe it either, but I am talking about one reoccurring cue only; the rest of the score is great, haunting stuff. The music cue on its own is actually kind of nice, it just seemed a bit to up beat for the proceedings (it also sounded almost like an outtake from Lost).  But rest assured, the rest of the score is great and I still hold Giacchino as the best working composer.  Both of these complaints are born out preference rather than error though and it goes to further solidify how strong the film is.  One complaint most will have though is that the CG is a bit rough around the edges and no one will be hard pressed to catch the break in a number of the scenes.  I almost wondered if it was Reeves intention to make the CG look a little weak as the film feels like a disturbed cousin of E.T. and I wonder if he was trying to replicate the look of the films in the era.  Or am I giving him far too much credit?

For those who haven’t seen Let the Right One In and/or don’t care about the adaptation skip to the final paragraph now!  Also, this might get a bit SPOILERY, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

When it comes to the adaptation process this film does a great job of recreating the mood, tone, pacing, story, everything.  It’s a great transfer of keeping the integrity and greatness of Let the Right One In and bringing it to American audiences terrified of subtitles.  And Reeves’ film bests Alfredson’s on more than one occasion throughout the story but falls just short of the original in just as many spots.  But that is sort of a good thing because the original is so great and Reeves never completely misses the mark when duplicating certain scenes.  If he misses, it’s always just barely, and for all I know I am possibly just partial to the original because I saw it first.  (I need to have a nice discussion with someone who loved Let Me In first.)  As I said, Reeves does pull off a few things better, much better even.  The scene in which the Handler gets himself into more trouble than he can handle makes much more sense and the scene itself is actually incredible.  In fact, it ends with one of the most breathtaking shots I have seen in recent memory and I have no idea how Reeves pulled it off.  It involves a long take with the camera set up in the back of a car and all hell breaking loose and the car and the characters go through a lot of shit before it is all said and done, highest of marks mister Reeves.  The other major bit that Reeves executes better is laying out the implications of Owen’s future if he continues with Abby.  In the original film it didn’t dawn on me till the second viewing, which I guess you could say makes it more rewarding, but the revelation is so powerful it feels right that you can more easily come to the conclusion in Reeves’ version of the film.  There are more bits and pieces Reeves might have topped Alfredson as well but I greatly missed the cats and Alfredson’s finale in the pool might be impossible to top.  I also didn’t really feel like Reeves captured Abby’s movement all that well and this again goes back to the CG in the picture I think.

In the end, Let Me In is a fantastic adaptation of Let the Right One In and does enough stuff different to separate itself from being just a carbon copy.  There are pieces from both films that I would steal and share with each other to make the perfect telling of this story but both are fairly magnificent on their own.  If you haven’t seen Let the Right One In I imagine your experience with Let Me In will be even further enjoyed than my own as the twists and turns of the story are surprising and thrilling as the film never lets on where it is going to go, (outside the completely pointless flash forward opening).  Filled with a strong cast this unconventional but more rewarding horror film should be seeked out by both fans and non-fans of the genre as the story is a true original that is so much more than jut another vampire movie.  If you missed out on Let the Right One In don’t miss your second chance at the story with Let Me In. (And for good measure you should still check out the original after seeing this one anyways.)

Let Me In is an A-

Let Me In is one of the most successful foreign film adaptations ever and it does that by pulling from both the source novel and the film to give itself enough of its own identity to forget about the original film, Let the Right One In, if you have seen it.

Reviewing Matt Reeves’ film is a tough endeavor for me as I love the original film by Tomas Alfredson, and you should check it out if you haven’t as it is streaming on Netflix, and I can’t help but compare the two films here.  I hopefully will convey a stand alone opinion of Let Me In by the end of this review. Reeves’ film is intense, atmospheric, and doesn’t stray too far away from the original film.  Having not read the book I don’t know if the differences in the films are taken from their or not but when Reeves breaks off the film still work wonderfully.

Following the story of Owen, a bullied middle school kid in snowy 1980’s New Mexico, we discover that he is helpless in his woes at school but tries to act tough and live out his retaliatory fantasies in the courtyard of his apartment complex.  A might as well be absent, in the middle of a divorce mother passes out every night over a bottle of wine and Owen is left to play “Rear Window” in his apartment complex.  Enter Abby, a young girl who moves into the apartment next door and never appears other than at night to Owen out in the courtyard.  The two slowly form a friendship, with Owen maybe wanting something even more so, but strange things begin happening around town and we find that Abby’s “caretaker” is the chief instigator of the affairs.

The film’s pacing is steady and many will show up unprepared for the films lack of action beats and tension.  First and foremost this is a story about friendship, one that just happens to be cursed with the twist that one of the friends is a vampire, and a suspenseful horror story evolves out of the circumstances.  The film ignores conventions and is a unique tale that should be replicated more in horror films nowadays.  Instead of banking on cheap scares, extreme gore, and ludicrous situations, Let Me In tries to keep things as real as possible and uses subtlety to create scares and tension.  Reeves’ does this almost shockingly well as you would never believe that this film was shot by the same guy that did Cloverfield.  Less is more is the mantra of this film and when things go to hell they are that much more shocking.

Reeves’ also assembles a sharp cast that all make the most out of what they are given in this rather minimalist picture.  One of my fav’s Richard Jenkins plays Abby’s handler and while he doesn’t have any grandstanding moments, he is solid as always and creepy as hell in plastic bag (you will know what I mean).  Chloe Moretz continues to impress as she pulls a complete 180 from her work in Kick-Ass to quietly play Abby when she interacts with Owen while unleashing a terrifying fury as she lusts for blood.  The makeup work is spectacular on her as well and she helps it come alive as she will scare the crap out of you with that look of evil.  Kodi Smit-McPhee is equally as impressive as Moretz as he creates a weird and awkward kid in Owen that slowly grows as he becomes closer to Abby.  He is seemingly brought to life by his encounters with a dead girl and the two work wonderfully together.  Elias Koteas plays the local detective and while he is only in a couple of scenes he makes his mark by perfectly playing the confounding and oddity of his investigation just right, never knowing what is going to happen next.

The only complaints I have with the film are the moments I felt were executed a bit better in the original film and Michael Giacchino’s “friendship” score didn’t really work for me.  What was that, Zac just said he didn’t like a piece of music by Giacchino?  I know, I can’t believe it either, but I am talking about one reoccurring cue only; the rest of the score is great, haunting stuff. The music cue on its own is actually kind of nice, it just seemed a bit to up beat for the proceedings (it also sounded almost like an outtake from Lost).  But rest assured, the rest of the score is great and I still hold Giacchino as the best working composer.  Both of these complaints are born out preference rather than error though and it goes to further solidify how strong the film is.  One complaint most will have though is that the CG is a bit rough around the edges and no one will be hard pressed to catch the break in a number of the scenes.  I almost wondered if it was Reeves intention to make the CG look a little weak as the film feels like a disturbed cousin of E.T. and I wonder if he was trying to replicate the look of the films in the era.  Or am I giving him far too much credit?

For those who haven’t seen Let the Right One In and/or don’t care about the adaptation skip to the final paragraph now!  Also, this might get a bit SPOILERY, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

When it comes to the adaptation process this film does a great job of recreating the mood, tone, pacing, story, everything.  It’s a great transfer of keeping the integrity and greatness of Let the Right One In and bringing it to American audiences terrified of subtitles.  And Reeves’ film bests Alfredson’s on more than one occasion throughout the story but falls just short of the original in just as many spots.  But that is sort of a good thing because the original is so great and Reeves never completely misses the mark when duplicating certain scenes.  If he misses, it’s always just barely, and for all I know I am possibly just partial to the original because I saw it first.  (I need to have a nice discussion with someone who loved Let Me In first.)  As I said, Reeves does pull off a few things better, much better even.  The scene in which the Handler gets himself into more trouble than he can handle makes much more sense and the scene itself is actually incredible.  In fact, it ends with one of the most breathtaking shots I have seen in recent memory and I have no idea how Reeves pulled it off.  It involves a long take with the camera set up in the back of a car and all hell breaking loose and the car and the characters go through a lot of shit before it is all said and done, highest of marks mister Reeves.  The other major bit that Reeves executes better is laying out the implications of Owen’s future if he continues with Abby.  In the original film it didn’t dawn on me till the second viewing, which I guess you could say makes it more rewarding, but the revelation is so powerful it feels right that you can more easily come to the conclusion in Reeves’ version of the film.  There are more bits and pieces Reeves might have topped Alfredson as well but I greatly missed the cats and Alfredson’s finale in the pool might be impossible to top.  I also didn’t really feel like Reeves captured Abby’s movement all that well and this again goes back to the CG in the picture I think.

In the end, Let Me In is a fantastic adaptation of Let the Right One In and does enough stuff different to separate itself from being just a carbon copy.  There are pieces from both films that I would steal and share with each other to make the perfect telling of this story but both are fairly magnificent on their own.  If you haven’t seen Let the Right One In I imagine your experience with Let Me In will be even further enjoyed than my own as the twists and turns of the story are surprising and thrilling as the film never lets on where it is going to go, (outside the completely pointless flash forward opening).  Filled with a strong cast this unconventional but more rewarding horror film should be seeked out by both fans and non-fans of the genre as the story is a true original that is so much more than jut another vampire movie.  If you missed out on Let the Right One In don’t miss your second chance at the story with Let Me In. (And for good measure you should still check out the original after seeing this one anyways.)

Let Me In is an A-