the anti-twilight.

I took my weekend Dadcation on Friday and went to see a movie.  Friday was the release day for Let Me In, the Matt Reeves-helmed remake/adaptation of the Swedish movie Let The Right One In.  Both movies are adaptations of the excellent novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. 

(Nominally speaking, it’s a vampire story, but if any novel or movie ever bucked a neat classification, this story is it.  It’s more about adolescent loneliness, bullying, and being an outsider.)

Generally speaking, American remakes of European movies tend to suck big rocks off the ground, but this one of the rare exceptions.  I had read a lot of positive pre-release buzz on this particular remake, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Let Me In is an amazingly effective movie in its own right, and one of the best remakes I’ve ever seen in any genre.

Because it’s a smart, well-acted, and moody flick with tween protagonists (Kodi Smit-McPhee, who played the boy in The Road, and Chloe Moretz, who played Hit Girl in Kick-Ass), and because it’s not a splatterfest or vampire shagging action, it’s probably going to be widely ignored at the box office, which is a shame.  The slickly packaged shit that is the Twilight trilogy, on the other hand, is making so much money that Stephenie Meyer will be able to have Utah gold-plated if she wants.  It’s a sad state of affairs, it is.

If you haven’t read the novel or seen the Swedish movie yet, I highly recommend them as smart, genuinely unsettling, and wholly original takes on the vampire mythos.  I usually tell people to read the book first, but in this case, I’d recommend the reverse order—watch the American remake first, then the Swedish version, and then read the novel.  There’s a ton of stuff in the novel that didn’t make it into either of the films, so the narrative in the movies is more streamlined.  (The novel also has some twists and reveals in it that would make you look at the movies differently.)

Let Me In accomplishes a rare feat—it manages to be a cultural translation of a foreign movie that doesn’t dumb down or gloss over stuff for domestic audiences.  The cast is excellent, especially the two leads, who at their tender ages already have more Thespian mojo in their little fingers than the entire cast of the Twilight trilogy have in their shirtless and/or sparkly bodies.

My rating for Let Me In: A-.  The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the unnecessary and unconvincing use of CGI in a few instances, and the equally unnecessary make-up job on Abby/Moretz in the basement scene.

7 thoughts on “the anti-twilight.

  1. Leatherwing says:

    We watched the Swedish film and were really impressed. We’re having friends over on Wednesday to watch it again, then go see the remake this weekend. Glad to hear they didn’t ruin it.

  2. Porter says:

    One note… Stephanie Meyers hails from Arizona. She may be Mormon, but we (at least the sane among us) still don’t want her or her sparkly vampires up here in Zion.

    We’ll take Larry Correia’s MHI vampires if you please.

  3. Kaerius says:

    When are they turning MHI into a movie anyway? It’d be a great one(if perchance, a bit long if true to the story, miniseries maybe?)

    And yeah seen the swedish film, it’s a good one.

  4. Ix says:

    I watched a translated/subtitled version of the Swedish film. I remember it being as incredibly creepy, but quite good – and gory enough in its own way, since Eli’s “dad” meets a very nasty on-screen end. And there’s plenty of on-screen blood, too.

    If anything, I suspect it’ll probably get an NC-17 or an R rating; it’s pure nightmare fuel, to be honest.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      The American remake is a little more gory, although still quite tame compared to current genre conventions. (And yes, I’m pretty sure it was rated R.)

    • Außenseiter says:

      Nightmare fuel?

      Come on. It’s fantasy. I’ve seen the swedish version, and it was just about dark enough. It may be that I like violent and depressing stuff, as I’ve read Song of Stone several times over, but still, Let the Right One In isn’t nightmare fuel unless someone is really a shiny innocent.

  5. Wilson says:

    Thank you for a very good review of an interesting and entertaining horror film. You seemed to like it a little more than me though, you gave it an A-, I would say a solid B. The two young actors are the best part of this production. Smit-McPhee really has that pre-teen angst down by now, he has had a lot of practice between this film, The Road and Romulus, My Father. Moretz is an incredible young actress that just seems to get better each time I see her, I also wish they had gone lighter on the evil vampire/monster makeup. The worst part of this film for me was the awful CGI effects that are definitely distracting and not worthy of the production. I read another review where the writer referred to CGI Abby as a “Rampaging Orangutan”, wish I had thought that line up…

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