Weekend Movies: Let Me In

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The typical response to an American remake of a foreign film is usually a justifiable groan. (One of the worst movies this year was Dinner for Schmucks, though it’s hard to imagine the French version would’ve been much better.)

The Swedish film, Let the Right One In, drew critical raves from an audience that wanted a vampire movie with more…teeth than the Twilight series, but a little less sex and gore than True Blood. The fan base was small, but devoted, and as vocally opposed to the idea of the Matt Reeves remake, as Anne Rice fans were when Tom Cruise was cast as their vampire Lestat.

Both versions of Let Me In are inspired by the coming of age novel Lat den Ratte Komma In, John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Let Me In, while not as chilling as Let the Right One In, stays true to its tone — which is to say (as a compliment) that it isn’t a vampire movie at all. Instead, it’s a halting, adolescent romance, cast with real life adolescents (Kodi Smit-McPhee, 14, of The Road is Owen; and 13 year old Chloe Grace Moretz is Abby).

Reeves has thoughtfully shifted the landscape to Reagan-era New Mexico, which neatly bypasses the current era of tween communication, which would involve them staring at a screen, texting or facebooking. Instead, they meet in the “playground” courtyard of their shabby, run-down apartment complex. And they talk at night through a series of taps on their common wall — it’s practically two tin cans and a string.

The first thing she tells him is that she can’t be his friend, but he’s a kid — viciously and violently bullied at school — in desperate need of one.

From there, the relationship blossoms, inasmuch as it can, along fairly conventional paths (there are two scenes of them listening to actual records, haltingly bobbing their heads to 80s music in a time-honored awkward teen fashion that would transcend any decade).

Suffice to say, there are issues. Owen’s parents are going through a divorce, for example, and his emotionally absent, ultra-religious Mom drinks a carafe of Paul Masson every night and passes out. Abby, on the other hand, “has to have blood to live.” And that guy she lives with (Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins, best known as the dad from Six Feet Under), well, he is not her dad.

Eh, it’s always gonna be something. And if these two crazy kids can’t make it work? Somewhere, John Hughes would not be happy.

To purchase the book on which the movies are based, click on this link: Let Me In
To purchase the blu-ray of the Swedish original, click on this link: Let the Right One In Blu-Ray with Director/Writer(Author) Commentary

To rent it on Netflix, click here.

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