Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: "Let Me In"

Just a mini-review tonight: It's late Wednesday and we have a date with a baby first thing in the morning. Austin Lugar is handling the main review over at The Film Yap, so tune in there for his more complete take.

Overall, "Let Me In" is a better adaptation of the Swedish film "Let the Right One In" than I had any reason to expect. Writer/director Matt Reeves kept the original's creepy atmospherics, although he did punch up the action beats, as one might expect.

I was surprised that they kept some of the more unseemly characteristics of Owen (a wonderful Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely bullied kid who befriends a girl vampire. An early sequence where he wears a horrifying mask and taunts his reflection in the mirror while holding a knife lets us know this isn't a sweet innocent.

I liked that about both movies -- the depiction of bullies and the bullied as suffering serious psychological impact as a result of their interaction. And, of course, the advice of young Nosferatu Abby: "Hit them harder than you dare. And then they'll stop."

Chloe Grace Moretz continues her impressive turn of performances, punctuated by "Kick-Ass" earlier this year. When I heard a remake of "Let the Right One In" was coming, I thought at least they picked the one young American actress who could pull it off.

The action is moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the dead of winter. The look is spare and frigid, though the oppressive cold isn't quite as convincing as Sweden, of course.

Richard Jenkins is solid in the rather smallish role of Abby's human protector, who ruthlessly kills to feed her ancient craving for blood. Interestingly, he's credited as "The Father," even though Abby herself explicitly states that he's not her real father.

Another interesting choice was to depict Owen's mother only obliquely, through a fuzzy lens or in the distant background. It helps emphasize the boy's isolation, both physical and emotional.

I'll say this: If there ever were a romance between a human and a vampire, it would not be the stylized, sanitized Gothic splendor of the "Twilight" series. It would be like this: Disturbing, smelly and increasingly unpleasant as time goes by.

3 stars out of four

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