Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Kara Buono
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer(s): Matt Reeves, John Ajvide Lindqvist
Cinematography: Greig Fraser
Original Score: Michael Giacchino
Running Time: 115 mins.
Vampires are in vogue, there is little denying that fact, from Twilight through to True Blood by way of Daybreakers most bases have been covered in terms of the good, the bad and the downright ugly, so Let Me In rather begs the question of why do we need yet another Vampire offering? Well I will answer that question quite simply by saying that Let Me In is by far the best vampire film for quite some time and a whole lot more besides, the biggest of these “besides” being that it presents us with the best entry in the Horror genre for many a year and is that rare thing, genuinely scary, and I don’t just mean scary jump-y but the kind of scary that gets under your skin and stays with you long after the credits roll, yes there are the requisite number of jumps to startle and shock but there is an ever creeping sense of dread and an overall tone that can only be likened to that in the greats such as The Exorcist or The Shining, yes it really is THAT good.
Let The Right One In was one of last years most acclaimed foreign language imports, garnering awards and very good word of mouth, it was both atmospheric and involving, two aspects that this remake holds fast too but in my eyes it just wasn’t all that scary meaning it was less a horror film and more a character study. Unusually Let Me In manages to be both different in approach (whilst still maintaining almost shot for shot sentiment in somescenes) and all the better for it, stream-lining away much of the flabbiness to be found in its original this is a focused and hard-hitting experience, on the brain as well as your heart. It would seem Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame) is a director (and writer) who actually knows how to build suspense and character in one fell swoop, a feat that defies most director’s on one front or the other.
Cloverfield itself suggested the man knew how to do this, it was just that he needed a slightly more intimate tale than that of giant Godzilla-style monsters to tell it, apparently vampires provided him with the perfect opportunity! As with Let the Right One In the story concerns two 12 year old children, one is a boy, Owen (Smit-McPhee), being bullied at school, the typical outsider-child living a solitary life in a block of flats with his recently divorced mother, while the other is the more sinister and secretive loner, Abby (Moretz), she walks around with no shoes on, has no body heat to speak of and is as mysterious a girl as can be, that they bond is no surprise but the question is what does Abby actually want from Owen as her secrets unfurl…
It is no shock to learn Abby is a vampire, cared for by a creepy older man (Jenkins) who kills to feed her addiction (blood, of course and makes for some chilling murders) while a dogged cop chases hunts down those responsible for a spate of murders, could this all be linked? Again the answer is unsurprising, this is not a film out to twist and turn the narrative, it is about raw emotion and the age-old battle between good and evil, hell it even opens with Ronald Reagan on TV saying as much! This also suggests we are in the 80’s, an era which is held closely to its director’s heart and is mined subtly as with the obviously very different, but equally respectable to the era, Adventureland. This is where the atmosphere begins its foundations in the snowy setting of New Mexico, the tension is palpable and provide for some beautifully shot vistas.
All of this though is surface sheen, it is what lay beneath that makes Let Me In something of a masterpiece, the jolts you get from the performances all round are astounding, these is a great deal of superlatives to lay on a film but I assure you they are totally deserved! Moretz and Smit-McPhee have proven their mettle before, in The Road and Kick-Ass respectively, and with Let Me In they build layers onto their repertoire, particularly Moretz who has always been great but was a little too tinged with precociousness and a sense of self-knowing, here that is lost to make way for nuance and a really scary build to the shocking scenes that are used sparingly but pack the most sever of punches.
In the vampire attacks and more (restrained) gory moments that the purveying sense of dread and feeling of being unsettled is punctuated, there are a great many iconic scenes to be found, not least the subway attack that uses restrained effects for vampire movement in the best way possible (Twilight take note!) and, the standout of the whole film in terms of visuals, a car crash that is shot from the viewpoint of the rear seat culminating in a horrific and disturbing act that has emotional repercussions the resonate throughout the film, and beyond, much like the experience of Let Me In overall.
Let Me In is a horror masterpiece, transcending the boundaries of the genre whilst also adhering to them, it has been a very long time since a film stayed with me and scared/disturbed in equal measure while retaining the heft of real emotion … all that and it’s a remake!