Splatter Time Fun Fest 2011: Let Me In (2010)

Splatter Time Fun Fest 2011 heads to New Mexico for a remake of one of my all time favorite movies period!

Screenplay By: Matt Reeves
Directed By: Matt Reeves

I’m going to let the cat out of the bag right away, Let Me In is nowhere near the picture that Låt Den Rätte Komma In is, in fact Let Me In pales in comparison to its Swedish counterpart. There are many key areas where Let Me In falls short when stacked up against the film it is a remake of (and yes Matt Reeves, your story about adapting the book and not remaking the film is hogwash. Let Me In is essentially a shot for shot remake of Låt Den Rätte Komma In, but it’s a good film so I don’t see the need for all the bullshit about what the film is based on). That being said, I’m not here to review Låt Den Rätte Komma In, I already did that and told everyone why it is a masterpiece. Let Me In is a good movie in its own right, and that is what I am here to discuss.

First, what exactly did Let Me In get right? Probably my favorite aspect of the entire film were the many close-ups and how they helped to make a striking film. I don’t recall Matt Reeves using quite so many close-ups in the only other film of his I have seen, Cloverfield. But use them he does in Let Me In, and often to great affect. The character portrayed by Richard Jenkins is pretty much a wasted opportunity in the film, but he has one great sequence in the back of a car. In that sequence there are a series of close-ups on his masked face as the car is in motion. That was a stunning piece of cinema, showing a visual acuity that was quite surprising given the rest of the film.

The visuals of Let Me In aren’t all praise worthy, I was not a fan of the very polished look of the majority of the film. I don’t know why but Mr. Reeves and company decided to go for a high exposure look to the cinematography, and when not filming close-ups this left the picture with a far too professional look. I know that may sound weird, but I wanted more grit from this tale and a lot less polish. Professional looking pictures are great, but when the images don’t correlate with the story I’m not sure what purpose a well polished picture serves. Let Me In certainly could have benefited from some more dirt on the lens and a more real looking backdrop. That’s without mentioning the vampire attack scenes that featured some of the worst CG effects I have ever seen, looking more like a video game than a movie.

Speaking of real, I had no problem buying the actors in their roles. The problem I had was caring for the actors beyond what they were presenting. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz are both serviceable, but I didn’t find any depth to their performances. Miss Moretz is especially guilty of being all surface, playing Abby as she looks instead of as the old soul that she is. In Let Me In Abby is a twelve year old who happens to be a vampire, not a vampire who happens to look like a twelve year old, and that didn’t sit well with me. As I said earlier Richard Jenkins is wasted in his role, and the same could be said for Elias Koteas. Both are fine actors, and their performances are just fine, but they are all surface and never truly matter. That’s the crux of the problem with Let Me In’s story, it’s all on the surface.

The surface aspect of Let Me In plays into its biggest flaw and ultimately what kept me from loving the picture, it has very little atmosphere. It all starts with the lack of cold, I never once felt the cold on screen. Truly great cold movies, like Fargo or Låt Den Rätte Komma In, feel ice cold as you watch them. I thought Let Me In felt like a movie being made on some Hollywood back lot, and the fact that it wasn’t actually made on a Hollywood back lot speaks to Let Me In’s lack of atmosphere. I firmly believe that the reason it isn’t able to forge a strong and compelling atmosphere is because of how insistent the film is on being essentially a shot for shot remake of Låt Den Rätte Komma In. This allows it to have a good story, but it stops the film from creating a singular atmosphere, instead it is content with attempting to borrow an already existing atmosphere, but it failed to reproduce said atmosphere.

I know that I have said a lot of negative things about Let Me In, but even in my negative comments I have made sure to emphasize that the film is just fine. That’s the best way to describe Let Me In, it is a deeply flawed film that manages to be just fine and a good watch. Sure, the film has a lot of problems and people who are not able to separate Let Me In from Låt Den Rätte Komma In will most likely not find any value in its existence. That’s not the reality of the situation though, Let Me In is an easy watch with a story that is well done. Maybe Let Me In is a film that didn’t need to be made, but it was made and the end result was a pretty good flick.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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12 responses to “Splatter Time Fun Fest 2011: Let Me In (2010)

  1. Well, the film most certainly is not a shot for shot remake. There are more than a few sequence, such as the opening one, and the car scene, which are reinvisioned in Reeves version and to great effect.

    I actually like the way Reeves reinterprets some of these moments more than the original. I also like how he slims down the adult subplot, which I don’t think adds much to the original film. Yes, it owes a lot to its predecessor, but I do think it makes some legitimate improvements.

    Both films are really good though, and two of the most notable horror films of the past few years.

  2. I did say essentially James, there were times when Reeves strayed from the original, but I felt he “essentially” followed the original shot for shot.

    I liked the film well enough, but I didn’t think Reeves did enough interesting things with the film to justify its existence as anything but a decent horror film.

    Unlike you I wouldn’t put Let Me In among the most notable horror films of the past few years, it’s too flawed for me to do that.

  3. Mark Middlemas

    Sheesh I am with James. I thought this was an exceptional interpretation of the story. I’ve seen both films and aside from some bad CG and a less impactful finale, I have no complaints about Let Me In. I appreciated the attempts to fit the story into a Reagan era American context, which, in a wintery New Mexico, is just as stark, silent and oppressive as a wintery Sweden. Also, I felt the cold. That opening sequence with the car crash was hauntingly beautiful and that hazy shade of winter stayed with me throughout the film.

  4. I hear what you’re saying Mark, well actually I read it but you get my drift. I still liked the film, but all the elements that stood out for you were just kind of there for me, hence the lessened amount of praise I used in my review.

  5. Mark Middlemas

    Honestly, I may like the film more than it deserves only because I thought for sure it would be a total turd, and found it to be engaging and suitably creepy. I award more points than I should sometimes if a movie surprises me with competence.
    I need to re-watch it…

  6. Understandable, I too am guilty of doing the same thing from time to time. Then again, maybe it will hold up to your rewatch.

  7. I had opposite reactions to much of what disappointed you, Bill. Especially disheartening was your lack of enthusiasm for the cinematography. That was, in effect, one of the primary aspects that differentiates this film from the much beloved Swedish original, thus helping Let Me In stand apart and become its own thing. There is less ‘cold’ to Let Me In, but that never bothered me. The golden hue which showers so much of the film looks superb and creates a stark contrast with the bitter story unfolding.

    Chloe Moretz was, in my most humble of opinions, amazing in her role. I think I understand what your criticism is about her performance and the interpretation of that character, but I never felt it that way. She had the chops to deliver the goods.

    It was a rather small budget film. Cheap CGI is to be somewhat expected. Not that it makes cheap CGI suddenly good (cheap is still cheap), but expecting otherwise would have been doing the film a disservice.

  8. To be fair, I wasn’t let down by the cinematography, it was actually one of the things I highlighted as being good about the film. I was specifically enamored with the close-ups that Reeves employed.

    I can see what you’re saying about Moretz, it really does come down to how a person feels she presented the character,

    My issue wasn’t that I expected good CG, but I didn’t see the need for it in those moments and thus when it did happen I was put off by how cheap it was. In other, less crucial plot moments, the bad CG wouldn’t have bothered me as much, but in the moments it was used in it got to me.

  9. hmmm I have not seen the original. But based on this review and the fact that its on netflix streaming I think I will check it out.

  10. Cool, hopefully you end up liking it. 🙂

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