Toronto Review & Video: Matt Reeves' Outstanding 'Let Me In'
by Alex Billington
September 11, 2010
One of the most heavily debated films of this year has to be Let Me In, which is Cloverfield director Matt Reeves' new take on John Ajvide Lindqvist's vampire tale Let the Right One In, that was brilliantly adapted in 2008 by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. I'm a huge fan of the original film and I was truthfully a bit worrisome going into this, but despite all my fears, Reeves has pulled it off. I was stunned to discover that Let Me In is a beautifully dark and superb film that is actually on par with Alfredson's Let the Right One In. Believe it. This is one American remake is just as worthwhile as the original, in every way - it's that good.
Before anyone goes off on this for being a remake, it is Reeves' own interpretation, and yes the structure is very similar to the original film, but he borrowed both from that script and the novel, plus a little bit of his own personal ideas. Let Me In is set in Los Alamos, New Mexico (near where they used to test atom bombs, but that doesn't play into the story), a small, quiet snowy town similar to the Swedish town from the original movie. Chloe Moretz plays the vampire Abby in this, Richard Jenkins wonderfully plays her elder caretaker, and Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the unassuming young boy, renamed to Owen. And he does an incredible job.
After seeing Let Me In, I now truly believe that Reeves is the next big thing. I love his style, I love the way he uses sound in all of the scenes. The structure is similar to Let the Right One In, but it has all its own unique perks. This is a perfectly Americanized (don't take that negatively) version of Let the Right One In, complete with all the little quirks that make it fit into our culture, as if the story was perfectly re-designed to fit Los Alamos at that time. My only minor complaints have to do with Moretz as a vampire, mainly that I thought Reeves pushed her transformation a bit too far, although that might been because he wanted to put a more unique stamp on his version to differentiate it from the original movie. Aside from those issues, I loved it.
There's such an immense amount of depth to the characters and the story in this, almost even more than the Swedish film; it's definitely not an over-simplified Hollywood remake by any means. Reeves and Hammer Films deserve a lot of praise for fighting the system and keeping true to the integrity of the story, including keeping the kids the proper age and making this as completely brutal and R-rated as it needed to be. This is no "sparkly" vampire film for tweens, it's bloody and dark and nearly perfect in every way. He even develops the other bully characters more and let's Owen's story build with more depth than in Let the Right One In.
I can't praise the film enough. See it just to hear Michael Giacchino's phenomenal score (which I hope wins an Oscar); see it to be amazed by Smit-McPhee, Jenkins, and Moretz's performances; see it for Matt Reeves' incredible direction; see it to be inspired by Greig Fraser's gorgeous cinematography; see it to relive a time when Now & Later's were the best candy around. There are so many great reasons to see Let Me In, they're all worth it, and I hope many people do go out and see it. If anything, in the end it will only introduce more people to Lindqvist's novel and Alfredson's original film, and that can only held build more appreciation and love for this wonderful coming-of-age love story. Reeves has captured the spirit of that story in its entirety.
You can also watch a video blog review that Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm and I recorded immediately after seeing Let Me In, so our thoughts are fresh and completely honest. The one thing I ask is that everyone who is concerned, please give this a chance, it deserves it. Let Reeves impress you as much as he impressed me, because this is one of the best "remakes" I've seen. He has "pulled it off," so to say, and Let Me In deserves to be seen for at least that reason. But again, there are many wonderful reasons to see this beyond just that.
Alex's Toronto Rating: 9 out of 10