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Why remake "Let the Right One In"? That is the question I have been asking myself since I first heard that Matt Reeves (the man behind "Cloverfield") was tackling an American update of one of the greatest horror dramas to ever grace the screen. Americans tend to just screw things up, right? And, not being a big fan of "Cloverfield", Reeves didn't instill very much hope in my heart for a successful picture. That said -- I have no problem admitting when I am wrong about something and I was wrong about Matt Reeves. "Let Me In" is probably the best remake ever. You heard me -- ever. Instead of bastardizing the film for Hollywood he kept it simple and seductive and far from the mainstream. He obviously loved the source material and treated it accordingly.
For those unfamiliar with the original film, the story centers around Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely and bullied boy who lives in an apartment complex in 1983. He is tormented at school, stunned by the divorce of his parents and experimenting with violent fantasies. One night he meets Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), a strange girl who has just moved into the complex with an older man (Richard Jenkins). She lets him know immediately that they cannot be friends but the two soon start developing a bizarre bond with one another. Owen is curious about girls and sexuality and Abby seems to be too perfect. Slowly, however, Abby starts to show a darker side and we soon realize she is not exactly what she seems to be. Elias Koteas stars as a policeman tracking down a serial killer in the area whom he believes to be in the area. I don't want to give anything else away for those who have not seen the original and might experience the material for the first time with this picture.
Most of the credit here goes to director Matt Reeves. He and his art department have meticulously re-created 1983 for the audience in everything from the clothes and the toys to the harsh and dulled out colors on the screen. It felt like I was watching a film in 1983. The music from Michael Giacchino (as always) is just phenomenal and really does a nice job of blending innocence and dread together in such an unusual way. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is some of the best of the year and superior to the original film in many ways. It's just beautiful. And a big credit to Matt Reeves for adapting the screenplay himself and throwing a few new touches that actually seemed more appropriate than the original. The Richard Jenkins character is still wholly underused but that is by design and not by choice. He needs to be used that way because it makes it far more effective.
The two young leads, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz, are perfectly cast and really do have the talent to handle these kinds of emotional situations. The film really belongs to both of them. Elias Koteas is terrific and nuanced as the saturnine detective searching for answers and Richard Jenkins does so much with such a small role -- he takes it and turns it into something memorable. I also had a strong appreciation for the way in which Reeves handled the school bullies. They are more treacherous and violent in this film than in the original and I felt much more concern for Owen when these bullies were around.
This is easily one of the best horror films of the year if not the best -- and it's the best remake I've ever seen. I was expecting your typical Hollywood-izing of the source material and they didn't do that -- they treated it with so much appreciation and so much love that it comes across in every frame. And, having been a huge fan of the original, believe me when I tell you -- I don't say any of this lightly. The shame is that I still think audiences will have a difficult time finding this film. It's not mainstream enough for most people. It will definitely introduce the story -- and the original film -- to more people but it won't bring it the kind of attention it deserves. Seek out this film and I recommend you watch this one BEFORE the original if you haven't seen it already. Try to go in with an open mind and appreciate this remake for all that it does right. 9/10.
- added 02/07/2011, 07:30 AM
The only negative thing that I can say about this
remake is that the pool sequence was so much
better in the original. Other than that, huge
thumbs up to this one.
- added 02/07/2011, 08:52 AM
I'm not going to read your review till after I
see this. But, the young girl is the one from
Kick-Ass and she's an excellent actress. I'm
looking forward to seeing this.
this amusing, In Kick-Ass she's this short little
child. But, in Diary of a Whimpy Kid, she looks
- added 02/07/2011, 05:06 PM
And the first meeting at the playground... and
the tunnel scene... and the part with the cop in
her apartment... and basically every seen where
she is a vampire.... Subtlety was completely lost
to Reeves. It was almost cheesy in it's
execution... I didn't love it, as it felt
remarkably dumbed-down compared to the
- added 02/08/2011, 10:31 AM
I'll be the first to shit on a remake if it
deserves it, especially a remake that really
didn't need to be made, but you can't honestly say
that this one was bad in any way. Chloe Moretz
was perfect as Abby, and even though some of the
CGI was spotty, it was nothing to really bitch
about. If you didn't like this one, you either
didn't like the original or you watched it with
- added 02/08/2011, 09:47 PM
No. No, no, no and fuck you. No sir: I went in
wanting to LOVE this movie. I gave it every
benefit of the doubt. I was worried, at first, and
then I heard all the actors involved as well as
the fact that, like Amicus' remarkable return to
grace with Stuart Gordon's "Stuck", this
was Hammer's return to the mainstream horror
world. I was more than ready to accept Moretz in
another starring role after her fucking excellent
turn as Hit-Girl, and I couldn't have asked for a
better build-up for a remake of what was easily
one of the greatest vampire films of the last
This was not what I wanted.
Just about every chance he got, Reeve's pumped out
as much gore and shock-scares as possible, which
is the exact fucking opposite of what the original
wanted to be. You've read the book, I hope? Well,
neither were perfect transitions, but the original
left the mystery and approached the subtlety of
Eli's vampirism with a bit of fucking tact. Now,
every chance we get to see it here become full on
vampire goring. Why? To what ends? There's so
little mystery left to her character. The approach
of Oskar's attraction to Eli was hammed up to the
point of being one of the most important aspect of
this version, when it was so muted in the original
because the story was about a much a romance as
Frankenstein's monster's connection to his creator
in the last act of the book... fuck.
felt cheated because this was, in essence, the
same as any American remake I've seen: It thinks
everyone misunderstood the original and decides
that we need it pandered to us as simply as
possible, and providing much needed action and
gore to keep the average viewer's attention. That
was unnecissary. This was unnecissary. No one is
that stupid. I thought this one was alright. Just
alright. It did a huge disservice to the original,
but it wasn't a bad movie. I don't think I'll ever
watch it again, to be certain.
- added 02/08/2011, 10:31 PM
"Reeve's pumped out as much gore and
shock-scares as possible, which is the exact
fucking opposite of what the original wanted to
Really? I like gore and
shock-scares a lot better than a slow pace which I
thought the original had. So I might like this one
better than the original, because I have a short
attention span. Hey, i didn't flunk out of college
- added 02/08/2011, 11:38 PM
Then you're probably going to prefer this to the
original, but the pacing is pretty much he same,
it just pumps it up as hard as possible. It feels
like it was designed with you people (short
attention spans) in mind, so it tries so hard to
make sure enough is happening as to keep someone's
attention so the story will keep constantly on
your mind. I can't promise it works very well, but
it didn't do much but piss me off. Can't promise
you'll like it, but I'll say give it a shot if you
didn't care for the original.
- added 02/09/2011, 10:24 AM
There's like, three gory /
"shock-scare" scenes in the entire
movie... unless you count a kid cutting his finger
or Abby having some blood on her chin as gory,
which I don't. Your mileage may vary though.
Also, I don't think that it's so much unsubtle
here as it is "you've read the book and
you've seen the original, of course you know the
things they're hinting at." Were they
unsubtle about the fact that Abby is actually a
boy because of the numerous hints? Well, no, they
never actually said it... but since you know
what's going on, you catch those hints more than
- added 02/09/2011, 04:44 PM
I can't really agree with that either, though it
may be part of it, mostly considering the fact
that in this version there isn't even any
indication that Abby is/was a boy at all (not your
point, but I'm getting to it). Nothing aside from
the rementioned line "I'm not a girl"...
That's one of the things I felt was terribly
insulting. Too much of the careful pacing and plot
are ignored as to favor a more horr-heavy flavor
that, frankly, the story just didn't need. Now,
let's take those three (more or less) gore scenes
in this one and compare it to the original film...
which had one (that this one had to pump the fuck
out of, as well) and for all the right reasons.
Something I found utterly unbearable about this
style was it's focus of the vampiric aspects of
Abby. This made her truly faithful in adaptation
at points, but at others made her a hell-beast.
Doesn't this kind of counter-act her necissity for
a Renfield? I mean, she seemed utterly capable
whenever she needed be, as opposed to Eli, who
seemed sickly when unfed and could only hunt
through her cunning, making a human partner seem
much more logical. Abby was scaling walls,
decapitating and leaping from cheers before
mauling prey. It all seemed so... silly. Like
there needed to be more drive to prove that this
was a vampire film rather then just accepting it
as face value.
I say it again, this was a
good movie, but an utterly unecissary remake. It
idn't create anything new and just took away
things that made the original a fantastic film. I
would go so far as to say that Reeve's probably
loved the source material, but it still felt like
he had to dumb it down so Joe Movie-watcher and
his bubbly-blonde girlfriend could enjoy it.
- added 02/10/2011, 04:19 PM
I just felt Reeves did a better job of creating
an atmosphere in this film -- the whole thing --
music, costumes, cinematography. I do think the
original is better, on the whole, but this one was
damned close. And it was better than the original
in some key areas.
- added 02/10/2011, 05:04 PM
I think the atmosphere Reeve's created was
sincere, but I don't think it was better. It felt
alot more attached to the chracters then I cared
for, but, as I said, this one did have it's
merits. Where do you believe this one suceeded the
original, Billy Ray?
- added 02/12/2011, 09:42 PM
I don't know... why even remake a film if you
can't really contribute anything of any measurable
weight to the original?
This felt like
a well-made afterthought to me.
well paced in many spots... but it really didn't
add significantly to the original's bleak but
touching central tableau... not to mention that
the casting wasn't even in the same stratosphere,
in my humble opinion. Everything great in this
presentation was either already present in the
original film or built upon ideas already explored
there. Much of the added drama and shock value
further detracted from the brilliant
understatement of the original as well.
I won't say this is a bad film... on the
contrary, it is a very entertaining movie. If it
existed in a vacuum, I'd be a BIG fan...
unfortunately, it doesn't.
- added 02/14/2011, 12:17 PM
As someone who thinks all remakes are
unnecessary, I agree with you. However, despite
that opinion, it was nice to see the same material
through the lens of another filmmaker. I found it
to be different enough.
- added 02/14/2011, 12:17 PM
And I thought the little boy in the remake was
better than the little boy in the original.
- added 02/14/2011, 11:22 PM
Hmm... have to disagree with you there, Meanie...
but to each his own, I suppose, on actor
I guess I just didn't find it
nearly different enough to warrant it's existence
outside the superior original.
could have been faaar worse... I'll give you
grain of sand
- added 02/15/2011, 11:19 PM
I hate that they made her look like a monster
when she was killing, but the caretakers story was
better and that car scene was out of this world
great.. I still think the original had a better
atmosphere and some sort of mystical tone that
this failed to attain. 7/10
- added 03/10/2011, 12:17 AM
Moretz was excellent as always. The story was
fantastic. But, it was long and drawn out. I kept
wanting to turn it off. Then something good would
happen. The crap for five minutes, then a good
piece. If they cut about 25 minutes of the useless
fat, this would have been perfect. That girl is
gonna be a star. She just made a guest appearance
on 30 Rock last week.