Not a Movie Snob - Let Me In

Posted on Monday, October 04, 2010 at 05:00 PM

"First kicking ass, now decapitations and blood sucking"

Let Me In

Leonardo DiCaprio was great in Shutter Island. John Hawkes was amazing in Winter's Bone. Robert Duvall was brilliant as usual in Get Low. But in all honesty, probably the best performance of the year for me was Chloe Moretz in Let Me In. This girl's in her early teens, probably hasn't even hit puberty yet, and she's portraying a twelve year old who's been twelve for centuries. Think about how hard that would be to pull off. You need the traits of a twelve year old, but with the wisdom and age of someone who's been around for hundreds of years. I couldn't do it. I couldn't come close to doing it. But Moretz pulls it off perfectly. There's still something childlike in her character, but she plays the character so well you believe she's been around for that long. It's an incredibly mature performance, one that will certainly earn her an Oscar nom. To compliment her fine job is Kodi Smit-McPhee as a bullied boy who befriends Moretz. Smit-McPhee is amazing too. Playing innocence and curiosity, confusion, anger and fear pitch perfectly. Definitely another of the years' best performances.

This movie, as most everyone knows, is based on the hugely successful Swedish horror film from just a couple years ago called Let The Right One In, with pretty much the exact same storyline beat for beat. It makes you wonder what the point of the remake was in the first place. But of course it was probably about Hollywood capitalizing on something popular and trying to gain from it financially. Also there's still a surprising amount of people out there who don't like to read their movies, so a version without subtitles, in English, is probably much more like it for this crowd.

Regardless of their reasons for it, and although I actually like the original a little better, this is a really good remake and a fine film in its own right.

The tone of the movie throughout is a dour one. There is no light at the end of a tunnel. No redeeming or positive message to take away. Just themes that include bullying, loneliness, neglect, divorce, eternal sadness, revenge and of course, murder. Doesn't exactly bring thoughts of sunny picnics with good friends to mind does it? But it's a horror movie and a sad story and a downer. Even when the two main characters' friendship brings a little light into their lives, it's still on a sad note because you know it can't last forever, and that sooner or later the boy is going to discover what the girl really is. And what she does.

Matt Reeves, the director of the film, is visually a great filmmaker (he also directed the recent Cloverfield). He doesn't shy away from blood and gore here, but he also understands and puts to great use the idea that things that happen off screen, that we can hear but can't see, can be much more powerful and scary than if it were shown to us. There's a scene towards the end of the film in a swimming pool that demonstrates that perfectly. Another example of his talent is a big car crash that is shown from the backseat of the car, with the camera remaining right side up the whole time. It's hard to explain, but it's pretty amazing. 

There's a few creepy sequences visually, but Let Me In isn't all that scary. And its deliberate slow pace can be a little too slow at times, but its gloomy moodiness, excellent direction and brilliant performances from its leads make it a great flick that yes, does happen to be about vampires, as sick as we all are of the genre, this one at least rises above.

Rating: ****



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