Over a year ago a friend from work recommended an unknown (to me) little film called Let The Right One In. As I recall he described it something like "a Swedish pre-teen vampire love story". I thought he was joking, it didn't sound like anything I would be interested in. At the time I had also recently been subjected to the horror of Twilight, about 30 minutes worth anyway, and I wasn't vaguely interested in anything that sounded similar. Also, I'm not the biggest fan of modern horror movies as most only seem to me thinly veiled torture porn. But my friend kept insisting and even though it didn't sound very good I finally decided to give it a chance, every other movie that he had suggested I ended up loving. I am glad that I took the chance because Let The Right One In is now one of my favorite horror movies ever. And one of the reasons that I really like it is that it proves again something I have known a long time, that you don't have to be graphic to be scary. Horror is in your head, not in the amount of blood on the walls.
Now 2 years after the original the "Americanized" version has arrived, Let Me In starring Chloë Grace Moretz (Hit-Girl from KICK-ASS) and Kodi Smit-McPhee who played the boy in The Road. Let Me In is not a shot by shot remake of the first film but does borrow heavily from it. It also goes back to the original book Låt den rätte komma by author John Ajvide Lindqvist for inspiration.
Even though technically it's not I'll call it a remake for the sake of this review. Whatever you call this new one the basic plot of all three are the same, a tormented and lonely 12-year-old boy (Kåre Hedebrant in the original and Smit-McPhee in this new version) meets a kindred spirit when a strange girl his age moves next door (Lina Leandersson in the original and Moretz in Let Me In), a girl with a terrible secret.
I was really looking forward to this movie, so much that I went to see it in the theater, which is something that I rarely do anymore. I'll just say that I didn't like this as much as the original film. It's a good film and definitely has moments of greatness, but everything I loved the most about the first one is gone or at least downplayed. Besides being great horror the original film was also a touching and tender love story. You wouldn't think that possible in a vampire movie but the story of awkward pre-adolescent love in the first seemed believable and very real. The remake seems more contrived and creepy. I can't find any fault in the film's acting, Smit-McPhee, Moretz, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas are all fine actors that did their best with the script given them. The fault belongs with writer and director Matt "Cloverfield" Reeves. His version has removed the best parts from the first production and replaced them with more, more blood, more violence, more brutality. Most of the subtleties of the original are now gone. One thing that we Americans are rarely accused of is subtlety so I'll give Reeves a pass on that, but other matters I cannot. Probably the single thing that bothered me the most about Let Me In was the character of Abby (Eli in the book and first movie). Eli in the original film was a killer but at the same time also seemed tormented by what she had to do in order to survive. Reeves' character of Abby is more a predatory animal that doesn't elicit nearly as much sympathy from viewers, and it hurts the film considerably. Another issue I had with this remake was the effects. The first film proved that everything didn't need to be shown to be scary. Sometimes less is more. But evidently Reeves must have missed that point when he watched the first one as he wants to show everything including some (at times) laughable CGI effects that should have never made it past the cutting room floor.
If you're a big horror or vampire movie fan you will like Let Me In and possibly even more than the first film. If you measure horror by the blood and gore you definitely will. If you have some strange subtitle phobia you will probably like this new version more as well. But for the average moviegoer the original film version Let The Right One In is the movie to see. There is no doubt that Let Me In is a decent horror film and it does entertain, but if you ever should watch the original version then you'll really know how good Let Me In could have been.