Next week sees the general release of Matt Reeves’ (Cloverfield) Let Me In, an American remake of the excellent Swedish film, Let The Right One In. One of the finest films of 2008, Let The Right One In is the antithesis of Hollywood film-making—a slow-burning gem that crawls through the claustrophobia of suburban adolescence and succeeds in breathing genuine originality into the contemporarily beaten-to-death genre of vampire tales. Reeves’ film thus rightly faces an uphill fight to justify itself against such high standards.
Transplanted from the morose, snowy suburbia of Sweden to the rugged winter scragg of Los Alamos, New Mexico, Let Me In stars Australian Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) as Owen, a picked-on middle-school loner, and Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) as the twelve-year old vampire he unintentionally befriends. As is the case with the original, the success of the film largely depends on the performances of these young actors, and in this regard Let Me In fairs pretty well. Smit-McPhee continues where he left off in The Road, while Moretz is competent as Abby, though her performance lacks the fireworks of her turn in Kick-Ass. The story has only the most superficial of alterations, and the film does succeed in generating an emotional impact largely on par with the original.
The real issue here is that apart from some rather heavy-handed Americanisation-by-numbers (overtones of religious moralising, requisite Pledge of Allegiance school scene etc.), the remake offers virtually no point of difference from the original. While it does feature one of the best car-crash sequences in recent cinematic memory, Reeves’ version gives no real justification for the American relocation apart from the absence of subtitles. This remake plays it safe, opting for a sometimes shot-for-shot, line-for-line recreation of the original rather than attempting an imaginative retelling.
Let Me In opens on general release 14 October.