Let Me In: Movie Review

Preamble: It’s not too often that I bump into friends and fellow Zombie Serengeti explorers during my DVD safaris. Imagine my joyful surprise at running into my dearly beloved friends KJ and SA just outside the audio-visual maze deep within the bowels of the local Walmarts.

Sadly, SA is being forced to leave town in a day or two. Something about her father moving off to the wilds of Sarnia, Ontario (where no one can hear you scream). She has no idea when she will return to civilization. It was like learning that your friend is being schlepped along on an expedition to Mars. Naturally, KJ and I were devastated beyond words. [1]

Even in the midst of our despair, my mission was not forgotten. Just when we thought all hope was lost, KJ and SA both pointed to a DVD of ‘Let Me In’ and declared, “You have GOT to see this movie! It is SO amazing!”

I needed no further recommendation. After the statutory hugs and kisses all around with suitable warnings regarding the departments in which the indigenous living dead congregated that afternoon, I made my way to the cash to check out my purchase.

Cost – $5. Major scare score!

OK, now… down to business!

LET ME IN: Movie Review

Let Me In is an American remake of Tomas Alfredson’s critically acclaimed 2008 hit Let the Right One In. Both are film adaptations of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s celebrated Swedish vampyre novel Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In).

I did something I rarely do before watching a movie… I gave a quick glance of the reviews at RottenTomatoes.com.  Many of the critics there said that the only reason Let Me In was made was because Americans hate reading subtitles. Notwithstanding this, the overall approval rating was a very impressive 90%.

I was definitely intrigued!

I had a good look at the DVD package when I was ripping off the cellophane. Coolish cover photo. A black and white close-up of a young girl with a trickle of blood at the side of her mouth. So far, so good!

(So far, so good!)

Then I looked at actors listed on the cover. Chloë Grace Moretz. The name rang a bell. Why did I know that name? I flipped the cover over and ready the blurb at the back. OMG!  Chloë Grace Moretz! The little kid (Hit Girl) in Kick-Ass. I loved her! I wasted no time. Into the old hamster-driven computer DVD drive it went.

I was so looking forward to this movie. I was not disappointed. Not in the least.

I can easily say that Let Me In is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a very long time. This unbelievable film pushes a major button for me… scary children. But what is worse/better… scary children who are still children despite also being monsters. But I am getting ahead of myself here…

OK, here’s the deal… Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 12-year old boy who is rather scrawny for his age, is viciously bullied at school and is pretty much a social outcast. Owen meets a girl who is ‘more or less’ 12-years old, Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), who moves into the apartment next door. The two develop a deep and profound friendship, usually meeting at night in the playground of their apartment building. Owen begins noticing that Abbey is not like any girl he has ever met. She seems impervious to cold, often walking barefoot in the snow. He only sees her at night. She lives with an older man who Owen presumes is his father. Abbey at first seems reluctant to be friends but then slowly shows signs of affection for Owen. She encourages him to stand up to the bullies and, if they don’t back down, she will help him… adding that she is stronger than she looks. She asks if Owen would still like her, even if she wasn’t a girl. Owen does not know what to make of this question. We soon learn why. Her ‘father’ murders men and drains their blood into plastic jugs for her consumption. Abby, feigning helplessness in a dark tunnel, attracts the attention of a young man saying she is hurt and asking if he could pick her up and carry her… then savagely attacks him, drinking his blood.

(Abby and Owen in the playground at night)

Mayhem ensues when Abby’s guardian and caretaker screws up an attempted murder, crashes a car and is taken to the hospital where he dies. Abby comes to Owen for help. With no one to care for her and feed her, Abby is at a loss as to how to survive. Like a feral animal, she attacks wildly, almost blindly and feeds when she needs to do so to survive, at one point almost going after Owen when he takes his pen knife and cuts his thumb so he and she can make a ‘blood oath.’ Abby finally confides that she has been 12 years old for a very long time. Eventually, Owen has to confront the reality that his seemingly innocent next door neighbour, the one he likes so very much, the one who gave him his first kiss, is a brutal monster.

My two cents… Yes, boys and girls, Abby is a little vampyre girl! And like another little vampyre girl, Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, she is that terrible, horrifying blend of beauty and beast… the cute killer, the adorable predator. She is both young and old, sweet and savage, lovingly soft and heartlessly vicious. No attempt is made here to portray her as an angst-ridden conflicted sparkly vampyre. She is a real honest to goodness old school undead bloodsucker, thank goodness! I was beginning to wonder if there were any of them left!

(Torn between attraction and revulsion… between fear and love)

Let Me In is a beautiful, haunting romance-horror. It premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and has received wide critical acclaim, and rightly so. I am always afraid when the US remakes a foreign film. I am filled with a nameless dread because somehow, some way, they are going to totally butcher the movie. To my infinite relief, Let Me In does not get lost in the cultural translation. It is a powerful, gripping and terrifying portrait of what happens when the monsters get too close… when you ‘let them in’, as it were. Chloë Grace Moretz is a very talented actress and she underplays Abby perfectly. Shy, sweet and sensitive… on the outside. Kodi Smit-McPhee also hands in a wonderfully understated performance which goes hand in hand with that given by Moretz.

Bottom line… Let Me In is one of the best, most refreshingly honest vampyre movies I have seen in a very long time. It grabbed me from the first scene and held me tight all the way through. This is what a vampyre film should be like. It should move you and touch you deeply, grab you by the guts and make you live that primal vampyre contradiction of being both attracted to and repulsed by the undead, the conflicting feelings of being afraid of them and at the same time desperately wanting them, of hating them and wanting them to love you. It doesn’t blur the line between the two. In fact, it does the very opposite. By keeping both sides far apart and clearly distinct, it heightens the differences and makes them stand out even more.

I highly recommend this movie to fans of vampyre fiction and to anyone who just loves a good tale of love, beauty and horror.

Two 12-year old vampyre thumbs way WAY up!!


[1] SA trying to put on a brave face.

 Come back soon, sweetie!! 😦


2 comments on “Let Me In: Movie Review

  1. bunnynoah says:

    I wanna see this!!! 🙂

  2. […] Let Me In: Movie Review « Vampyre Fangs […]

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