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.