Reappreciation Society: Let Me In

let me in

Any work of art should stand or fall on it’s own merits or faults, not be forever held in the shadow of its forerunner. When Charlton Heston’s Ben Hur was released in 1955, did audiences say “Yeah, but I preferred the version where they didn’t talk so much…” That said, Director and co-writer Matt Reeves had his work cut out convincing fans of cult Vampire book and film Let The Right One In to give his remake a fair chance.

He sets his version in a snowy 1983 Los Alamos, the specially constructed nowhere town in New Mexico where nuclear test scientists were billeted in WWII. Reagan’s speech on “The Evil Empire” plays on the reception T.V as the horribly burned “Father” is rushed to hospital after a blood harvest gone wrong. Immediately an oppressive, bleak atmosphere is created.

12 year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is viciously bullied at school, and has no-one to confide in. His mid-divorce mother leans on religion and alcohol, and is imaginatively filmed as a blurred out of focus figure, or with her back to camera. Many shots are at the young lead’s eye level, to further emphasise the sense of disconnect. Owen also spies on his neighbours, and becomes fascinated by the mysterious newcomers, Abby (Chloe Moretz) and her “father”.

The film focuses a lot on Owen and Abby’s growing relationship, the confusion and betrayal of secrets uncovered, and the desire to keep things secret and “the same”. The fact that she’s a vampire he witnesses viciously ripping into a dogged detective (the always excellent Elias Koteas), doesn’t deter him from longing to keep her close. He initially tries to process what he’s witnessed in an emotional confused phone call to his clueless dad while his mother lies passed out on her bed.

Two of the most tender and touching (and chilling) moments though are between Abby and The Father, her long term protector and murderous blood provider. When he first loses a precious harvest (“I guess I’m just getting old“), a tentative touch on the elbow and cupping of his cheek speak volumes about their long lonely history together. It is up to the audience to judge the exact nature of their relationship.

Later, when she beckons him to his hospital room window and he can’t invite her in because his vocal cords are badly scarred , he offers his neck to her bloody craving. She agrees, a single tear rolling down her cheek.

The vampiric attacks are bloody and graphic, sometimes enhanced by CGI, which does detract. Surely there are more practical sleight of hands ways to convey the demonic energy of this diminutive reaper in full flow? A spectacular stunt sequence shows an unbroken rear seat POV shot of a crashing car with The Father and a potential victim.

The overall atmosphere of the film is one of dread,and tentative confused adolescent emotional awakening, sensitively handled and given a monstrous underpinning. It questions if evil acts are justified to “protect and survive”.

The young leads are both outstanding, and have a wonderful chemistry together. Let Me In is a film that deserves to be seen as a dark, gripping take on the Vampire mythos, and a fitting showcase for the resurgent Hammer Studio.

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-12-08 16:58:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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