Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Geek Fright Fest: Let Me In

Let Me In (2010)*
Rated R (for violence and language)

Directed by Matt Reeves

Kodi Smit-McPhee
Chloe Moretz
Richard Jenkins
Elias Koteas

Let Me In is the second film adaptation of Swedish horror novel Let the Right One In, written by John Ajvide Lindquist. It is the story of a fragile young boy, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). He is constantly bullied by three of his classmates and his parents are in the midst of a contentious divorce. His father is distant and his mother is a fanatically religious alcoholic who spends most evenings passed out in front of the TV, televangelist programs blaring. Owen is an odd, lonely boy, so he is delighted to discover that a new girl is moving into his apartment complex. While spying on his neighbors, he sees her and her father moving in to the apartment next door in the dead of night. Abby (Chloe Moretz) is a strange girl - she doesn't wear shoes, even in the chill of winter and Owen notices that she smells "funny". While Owen believes that he has found a new friend, he will soon discover that Abby has a dark secret - one beyond anything he could ever imagine.

I have to admit, I was reticient to see this film because I am a huge fan of the book and Tomas Alfredson's film adaptation. Reeves does an excellent job of creating the cold, dark mood that pervades the story, and doesn't shy away from some of the darker aspects (as I expected an American director would). Like the orginial Swedish version, the film is both beautiful and horrifying. The differences are subtle, but I believe they are necessary for the film to appeal to mainstream American audiences. As Lindequist himself says, "Let the Right One In is a great Swedish movie. Let Me In is a great American movie."

Smit-McPhee and Moretz do an excellent job in the film, showing the capabilities of talented child actors. This is the second controversial role for Moretz, and although many people feel her roles are too adult, I think she is paving the way for a rich adult acting career. I am anxious to see what both actors produce in the future. This film is unusual in the scarcity of adult performances. Parents are virtually nonexistent (you never fully see Owen's mother, and only a few of the adults even have names). Owen is totally isolated and alone, with no adult assistance or guidance. As always, it was a treat to see Elias Koteas continue to develop his career as an acomplished character actor. After appearing in several low-budget horror movies in the '80s and early '90s, he is finally getting a chance to show his skills in some really excellent films (Fallen, Zodiac, Shutter Island, etc.)

I highly reccomend seeing the original film, especially if you enjoy foreign films. People unfamiliar with the story should watch the latest version first, then the Swedish version, and then read the book. Due to cultural differences, the American and Swedish versions vary slightly, mostly in the way the characters are presented. You feel a strange sympathy for Owen and Abby, but there is less sympathy for their Swedish film couterparts, and even less for the versions in the novel. This is intended, but American sensibilities often clash with this kind of portrayal of a story's protagonists, especially when they are children.

Fright Rating: 3 1/2 gasps out of a possible five

The majority of the film's scenes are languid, with beautiful cinematography, but the violent scenes are frenzied and very bloody. There are only a few brief scenes of true gore, but there is a lot of blood. The film is Rated R, so definitely no children or teens.

*Editor's Note: As this is a film currently in theaters, I wanted to reveal as little as possible. This means that the review is less in depth than ones written about older films.

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