Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Elias Koteas and Richard Jenkins
I have a reasonable amount of sympathy for Matt Reeves, the director of LET ME IN. He made a perfectly adequate and genuinely authentic remake of Swedish filmmaker, Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, but there was no way for him to come away from the experience as a winner. Fans of the original, of which there are many, and of which I count myself among more or less, see no reason to mess with success. And so, to appease these fans, Reeves remains as true to the original vision as possible. As well intentioned as this is, it renders LET ME IN even more pointless as a result.
It begins with a children’s choir singing ominously over a humming that is eerily chilling. It continues with the same slow, quiet pace that allowed the supernatural elements of the original to appear fully natural. Owen and Abby (Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz), the American counterparts to Oscar and Eli (Kare Hedebrant and Lena Leandersson), meet on what looks like the same jungle gym, in the same courtyard, behind the same low income housing where Oscar and Eli met. He is the same loner kid who gets picked on regularly at school and she is the same little girl, hiding her vampirism from those around her. Both are ostracized and both find understanding in each other. Their relationship, in great part thanks to these two fantastic, young actors, is just as tender and terrifying as Oscar and Eli’s was. Is there any point in retelling the exact same story the exact same way though?
I’m all for remakes; at their best, they can take already brilliant screenplays and reimagine them visually in all new manners, with sometimes all new meanings. At their worst, they are embarrassments that can be so big, they even tarnish the reputation of the original. LET ME IN falls directly in the middle of this spectrum. As dark and delicious as it can be at times, it never manages to give any reason for its existence other than to make it more accessible for audiences uninterested in subtitles. If you’re going to make a remake, you should have a good reason to do so, perhaps a new take on the subject that makes remaking it relevant. Pandering is not one of these reasons.