Let the Right One In, itself a film of the ultra-black novel of the same name, the first question was why remake such a fantastic film so soon?
Then there was the pedigree, it was being co-produced by Hammer whose comeback film, Beyond the Rave, missed much more than it hit and was being directed by Matt Reeves, known for Cloverfield, thus known for shaking cameras – a pet hate.
The odds were stacked but initial reports were good and, having just been to a UK preview of the film…Wow… and Hammer are back… and Wow…
I will assume knowledge of the original film and apologise now for spoilers and say that you would probably get the best effect watching this with no prior knowledge. Essentially the film follows Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young boy who is bullied, whose parents are divorcing and who harbours fantasies that perhaps shouldn’t be allowed to develop. He meets Abby (Chloe Moretz) and they start an awkward relationship. She is a vampire, of course he doesn’t know that at first.
The film does not start there, however, but actually starts with her ‘protector’ or servant, known only as the Father (Richard Jenkins), being rushed to hospital having poured acid over his face, accompanied by the police as he is the main suspect in a brutal murder where a young man was exsanguinated, and his subsequent tumble from a hospital window. I did wonder at this for, whilst it didn’t show Abby’s involvement, it certainly revealed a main plot area in the first few minutes. What it actually did was... I was going to say set the pace but it didn’t... more it set the undertone that pervaded the film.
Indeed there are changes to the film from the Swedish film and I felt that they all worked in their own way. Indeed some scenes that remained – the iconic bed-burning set piece for one – were vastly superior. The bed scene was absolutely brutal – fantastic stuff. Abby's secret, obliquely hinted at in the Swedish film, is utterly dropped in this.
I was impressed with the way that Abby’s vampiric moments were displayed. There was an aspect of animalism but it was deeper and darker than that, it was demonic, it was evil. It certainly wasn't pretty at all. Owen has had an insight when he asks his (absent and only on the phone) father about evil but he doesn’t really realise it, seduced by its pleasant face and possibly drawn to it because of his vulnerability and the strength it offers.
The book has a strong aspect that reality is scarier than any monster and the fact that Håkan, the Father in this, is a child molester is part of that. In this there is no hint of such crimes. The Father's targets are older teens, the normal fodder of the slasher in horror films, in fact the film switches things on its head. In this Owen is, in many respects, groomed by Abby. She is twelve but has been twelve for a long time and we see pictures of her with the Father at Owen’s age. In this way she is much more evil than her demonic, hungry and violent vampiric visage gives credence for. If only Owen knew that when, at the head of the film, he wears a mask and postures with a knife at the mirror it is a glimpse of him in old age, that he will be the Father.
That brings us to performances and I expected Chloe Moretz to be good – she stole the show in Kick Ass. It is the finest child vampire performance submitted to celluloid. Understated, subtle and truly terrifying – especially after the event and you are able to take in the full magnitude of her performance. Kodi Smit-McPhee was an unknown to me and he was superb, laying down a performance any actor would be proud of.
Let Me In is a must see. The full Taliesin Meets the Vampires review will be done once the DVD has been released and expect it to score very high.
The imdb page is here.