Hollywood’s tradition of taking foreign-made films and remaking them for local filmgoers has been around since sound was introduced and audiences realised they had to read subtitles in order to enjoy international cinema. Let Me In is a remake of Let the Right One In, a Swedish vampire film from 2008 that gained a critical and cult following. Matt Reeves’ (Cloverfield) remake is a good one, but sadly fails to emerge out of the towering shadow of the original.
Let Me In is a very strict remake of its Scandinavian counterpart, there’s almost no difference whatsoever. It still revolves around young, lonely Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Romulus My Father) who befriends Abby (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass), the new girl that has moved into his apartment complex. She can walk through the snowy terrain without shoes, appears and vanishes within the blink of an eye and the windows of the apartment that she shares with her submissive “father” (a creepy Richard Jenkins, The Visitor) are boarded up and she’s never seen in daylight. Yup, Abby is a vampire, and while she’s only 12 years old, she’s been 12 years old for “a very long time”.
This film is much more of an old-fashioned take on the vampire mythology; you won’t find any sparkly Mills & Boon type romance between these two. What you will find are disturbing sequences of vicious bullying handed out to Owen, violent deaths in Abby’s quest for blood and many other issues about growing up. Especially in this day and age, when bullying is such a disgusting news story, the scenes of Owen’s torment can be particularly hard to watch, and there are some scenes of brutal violence that may unnerve audiences, even those with some incredibly dodgy CGI.
Unfortunately, Let Me In’s faithfulness to the original film is debilitating. Scenes are recreated almost shot-for-shot and even lines of dialogue are recited verbatim, while the changes that have been made are barely noticeable and will only be spotted by the biggest of fans. It’s a shame that all this skill – and there’s a lot of it, especially Michael Giacchino’s music and cinematography from Australian Greig Fraser – has been used in a film that lacks any genuine originality. Audiences who like their horror films are bit more cerebral and challenging to the mind will probably like Let Me In immensely, but this remake fails to add anything to set it apart and there’s no reason to prefer this to the fine Swedish original.
Let Me In is released nationally in Australia on the 14th October
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas