Friday, October 22, 2010

Mini-Review: "Let Me In"

I'm interrupting the "Director of the Day" series because I actually went to the movies tonight. I am almost embarrassed to admit that the last movie I saw in a theater was Dinner for Schmucks back in July. But honestly, there just hasn't been a whole lot I wanted to see this year, what with the 'Summer of Suck" and all. 

Anyway, D and I finally manged to get together for a movie night and saw director Matt Reeves' remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In; Let Me In.

Briefly, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a bullied 12 year-old in 1983, trying to deal with his parents' divorce; his hyper-religious mother and three creeps at school who taunt him and call him "little girl." When new neighbors move into the apartment next door, Abby (Chloe Moretz) tells him they can't be friends, though of course, a friendship develops, especially after Abby advises Owen to hit back at his attackers. There are plenty of clues that something's not quite right - Abby walks about the snowy New Mexico landscape barefoot; she doesn't attend school and argues with her "Father" (Richard Jenkins) in a weird, unearthly voice. It soon becomes apparent (to us, anyway) that Abby is vampire and her Father is actually her human thrall, hunting victims so she doesn't have to. Elias Koteas (Crash; Shutter Island) is the cop investigating the murders and "Saving Grace" alum Dylan Minnette is Owen's chief tormentor.

While Let the Right One In ended up #1 on my list of the best films of 2008, the remake will just about make this year's Top 10. That's not to say it isn't a good movie. Far from it. Reeves (best known as a television director for his work on the Fox series "Felicity ") manages to elicit some terrific performances from Moretz  (Kick-Ass) and Smit-McPhee (The Road). Their scenes together have sweetness about them that almost manages to make you forget you're watching a Horror movie. The always excellent Mr. Jenkins (a 2009 Oscar nominee for The Visitor) is terrific as Abby's tired, aging thrall and Minette (the sensitive nephew on TNT's "Saving Grace") is chilling as a middle-school bully. Reeve's screenplay, based on the original novel by John Lindqvist is fairly faithful to the book, though I would have liked some less obvious CGI in the few scenes in which it's employed. The gore is kept to a minimum here, though used effectively when it is employed, and I was particularly enamored of Reeve's camera placement during a critical scene involving an auto accident. I also enjoyed hearing some great old 80's tunes as part of the soundtrack and Michael Giacchino's ("Lost;" "Fringe") haunting score is most effective.

While Let Me In isn't quite as good as Let the Right One In, it is one of the few American Horror remakes that doesn't disappoint and is certainly one of the best movies I've seen this year (though that isn't saying much). D also enjoyed it, though he hasn't seen the original, yet (and he actually jumped, at one point). *** (Three out of Four Stars)

More, anon.

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