Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins
Contemporary cinema has recently been plagued by remake after remake, most of which are either uninspired rehashes of beloved classics or just completely unnecessary. The fact that some filmmakers actually have the audacity to pull this off can be construed as an insult within itself, being their intentions are to more or less grace audiences with a “better” version of the original while also trying to provide a reasonably entertaining stand-alone effort. As you may have noticed, roughly 98% of these efforts tend to go horribly awry, leaving a majority of critics and casual moviegoers alike with a bad taste in their mouths after wasting nearly two hours of their lives they’ll never get back.
Upon my first hearing of Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’ intentions pertaining to an English-language remake of 2008’s universally astounding Let the Right One In, I was almost on the verge of tears. Thankfully, Reeves’ thoughtfulness in incorporating everything that made the original as great as it is ends up molding Let Me In into one of those rare remakes that actually hits all the right notes and then some, thus transforming it into the better of the two. In terms of atmosphere, tone and an ever-present emotional core, everything’s been meticulously reproduced, transforming Let Me In into an incredibly engaging and visually stunning experience that’s essentially more polished, possessing an intelligible cohesiveness that was sometimes lost within the original thanks to Reeves’ creative touch.
Despite my love for Let the Right One In, I found that I wasn’t necessarily a fan of certain plot elements despite their relevance in staying as true as possible to the source material. Much to my surprise, several of these elements have been altered or omitted in a (possibly) deliberate attempt to maintain Owen and Abby as the film’s centerpiece, allowing the outside influence of others to both strengthen their bond as friends and aid in their overall development as the film’s central protagonists. As for the additional creative liberties Reeves has taken, one may frown upon the overabundance of gore and shock value that Let Me In‘s predecessor purposefully lacked, yet all other changes made to the film’s overall presentation remain tasteful so as to not muddle any relevant underlying themes and a truly excellent air of suspense.
Even though a sense of believability stemmed from the original film’s reliance on its two amateur young leads, Let Me In certainly benefits from its casting choices by way of adding an appreciable amount of emotional depth to each character. Having been bowled over by Chloë Moretz’s outlandishly brilliant performance as Hit-Girl in Matthew Vaughn’s ultraviolent Kick-Ass, her involvement with this project was essentially the only reason I’d have considered seeing it prior to the positive buzz it’s received. Needless to say, she’s dynamite as 12-year-old vampire Abby, and unlike that of its Swedish counterpart, the chemistry that exists here between her and costar Kodi Smit-McPhee (whining aside) feels a bit more natural as the two deftly adapt to the obvious demands of their respective roles.
Believe it or not, director Matt Reeves has struck gold. Where countless others have so evidently failed in bringing something at least worthwhile to the big screen, Let Me In manages not just to satisfy fans of the original; it manages to surpass it. Thanks to a successful hybridization of everything that made Let the Right One In a hit and Reeves’ tactfulness in incorporating his own fantastic creative touches, the film shines as a prime example of everything a horror remake should be. Further aided by two masterful lead performances, Let Me In remains emotionally involving, appropriately suspenseful and remarkable nearly everywhere it counts outside of a questionable adherence to gore. If any skepticism still haunts you regardless of the praise it’s received, and especially if you haven’t seen the original, let me be the one to convince you that this is one experience you won’t want to miss.