“Let Me In”


Let the Right One In was one of the best films of 2008, the only tolerable thing featuring vampires to come out in years. Half-horror film, half-perverse coming of age tale, this Swedish masterpiece by Tomas Alfredsson is one of the best foreign films to come out in years. Naturally, it was so good, it demanded a spiffed-up American equivalent!

That’s not to say Let Me In is bad, far from it. There are some nice touches, and it also trims a couple of subplots from the original that seemed left over from the original John Ajvide Lindqvist novel, in a way that I think effectively streamlines the film without sacrificing the story. It also contains one of the most amazing sequences of last year, which wasn’t in the original film. You’ll know it when you see it.

I also liked the casting. Both kids are effective, although lacking the unique chemistry of the kids from the original. Of course, that was a one-of-a-kind thing that’s difficult to replicate, but I applaud their efforts. It also features the great Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas in supporting roles, and they do well with what little they have to work with.

Still, the film is needlessly “Americanized” in annoying ways. For starters, the film opens with the now-standard in media res opening, showing us a scene that will happen later in the movie in order to build suspense. It used to be an interesting form of storytelling, but more and more, the in media res scene is mainly used to say, “Hey, Lazy American Viewer That’s Probably Texting As You Watch This In The Theater, don’t worry, after all the boring, talky character-building stuff, things will get bloody, we promise!”

Let Me In also features a musical score designed to tell you everything you’re supposed to be feeling at all times, with non-stop boomy bass tones and foreboding strings.  It also features some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a while. It really blows, and effectively ruins every sequence involving scary vampire mayhem. The choice of CGI in these scenes makes no sense; is it really that much cheaper to turn a scene into a cheap video game? You can’t buy two buckets of corn syrup and call it a day?. A vampire biting people in the neck demands practical effects and squirting blood, but instead it’s an uninvolving cartoon. Ugh. The CGI also pretty much ruins the climactic scene, which is a pale shadow of the original, which you can view here if you’re not one of those “WHA DON’T SPOIL ME” goofs.

Another annoying thing: The whole film is relentlessly dark, unlike the clean, white, snowy look of the original. It tries to be foreboding, but it’s just murky. At one point, we see a kid in a swimming class, and the kids are practicing in a swimming pool area with all of the lights turned off. Wha? Also, the filmmakers inexplicably changed location to New Mexico, which is known for its snow, I guess? I have no idea why they made the location Los Alamos. The only way you know the story is set there is because of the opening title and a couple of signs. It’s a goofy choice.

Let Me In is worth seeing; it’s still better than a lot of films from last year, which is pretty much the faintest praise ever. If you have to choose, though, see the original; Let Me In has the right beats, but it doesn’t seem to understand the music of the original.


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