by Robin Ruinsky
We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage.
Synopsis: Based on the novel “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist the film Let Me In is relocated from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a friendless boy, a victim of bullies at school. Not a day goes by when he isn’t pushed, shoved, harassed and threatened. With no one to turn to, not a friend, or teacher, not even his parents who are consumed by a bitter divorce, Owen retreats into violent fantasies of revenge.
One night a man (Richard Jenkins) and his daughter Abby (Chloe Moretz) move into the apartment complex and Owen becomes curious about the girl who only comes out at night, sits in the cold with no shoes or coat, but seems untouched by the frigid New Mexico winter. She looks ragged, she smells bad, her hair is lank and her are eyes dull. But even so, Owen is drawn to her.
The next time he sees her she’s been transformed, no longer sickly looking, she looks like a pretty little girl. Owen will learn she’s without a doubt different from any girl he’s ever met.
There are many killer scenes in Let Me In but the pool scene towards the end of the film tops them all with a mixture of horror, humor, and triumph. Owen is threatened with a choice of death or disfigurement by the older brother of the bully who has been the bane of his existence. He’s forced underwater in the pool and just when it looks like he’s going to drown, Abby arrives. The scene is filled with mayhem, blood and gore, most of it seen from Owen’s underwater point of view.
Plenty of death in Let Me In. It is, after all, about a vampire and even if Abby looks like a twelve-year-old girl, she’s got the drive of a predator. It’s a drive her caretaker seeks to keep in check by doing the killing for her. He kills and drains blood from a woman, but the poor guy has become inept with age, tripping, spilling the blood and Abby is forced to give in to her need to hunt, transforming from innocent looking child to predator in an instant. One of her aborted kills is unintentionally turned into a vampire and it doesn’t turn out well for the poor woman. It doesn’t turn out too well for anyone but Owen and Abby. Even the detective who is trying to find out why bodies are popping up in his small town will find out it’s never smart to wake a sleeping vampire.
No sex. It’s a story about an unusual friendship between outcasts in a tough world.
The scenes with the bullies attacking Owen are real-life scary. Who are the monsters in this story? Abby who kills to survive or the bullies who harass, maim and torture for the fun of it? Or the adults who are oblivious to what’s going on among the students and their own children?
The scenes where Abby gives in to her inner vampire definitely provide some scares. One minute she’s a sweet child pleading for help, the next she has ripped into the throat of the unfortunate good Samaritan who stops to help her.
It’s rare that a remake, especially one that was made so shortly after the original is as good as Let Me In. The Swedish film, Let the Right One In, is excellent and so is this version. There are some small additions in Let Me In that change the emotional impact of the end. Though the endings are identical, one small addition to the story, a small but pivotal detail in Let Me In casts a shadow of dread the original doesn’t have.
Director Matt Reeves never shows the faces of Owen’s parents. He turns them into blurs, ineffective adults who can’t control their own lives, much less help their son through his terrible days at school.
This isn’t your typical vampire film but it is one of the best vampire stories you could hope to see.
Related Topics: Horror