Monday, October 4, 2010


Sometimes the remake equals or surpasses the original. It is a very rare occasion, so rare that I almost doubt myself for thinking it--but I do. I think I do anyway. Either way, it is the best movie of its kind that I’ve seen in a looong time.

It begins with a HAMMER, not literally, but the name that meant horror for all moviegoers from the mid-fifties to the late seventies. This is the first time I’ve seen that name attached to a film in, well, forever. And it is so reminicent of the Marvel Films logo flash that it startled me, appropriately.

I hadn’t a clue they were attached to this remake, but upon a quick viewing of some Wikipedia I see that they were purchased by a Dutch producer in 2007 who planned to bring the company back from the dead. I can easily say they have succeeded here.

So, sitting there, in the dark, for the first showing of LET ME IN and seeing the HAMMER name flash upon the screen was chilling and thrilling. It was a very good start.

If you’ve seen the original, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, then you know the story. I will say to you that this adaptation is not a shot-by-shot remake by any means. Doing away with some minor characters’ point of view scenes and focusing more on the main character, Owen, this film becomes a bit more of a coming-of-age story.

And boy is he having a difficult time. School bullies running rampant, parents divorced, detached Mother, absent father and no friends to speak of--Owen is a sad case. And we begin to see that it’s taking a toll on the kid. He’s becoming twisted by the isolation--and he is isolated in a frozen New Mexico landscape in the early eighties.

A great way they’ve added to the feeling of aloneness is by never showing us the face of Owen’s mother. It is as if there is a gauze over her head or as if she is shown only from just out of camera view. It is effective at giving one the feeling that Owen is on his own, that his world is very much not that of his mother’s.

That’s when a new neighbor appears. Two, in fact. Father and daughter, or so it appears. New mystery, new intrigue for Owen. And then people start to die, blood starts to flow and Owen meets Abby. Awkward and nervously, they make contact. Owen needs somebody, trapped in this appartment building of adults and retirees, and he tries to reach out to Abby. It turns out that she is, in her own way, as vulnerable and alone as he is.

The young actors in this film are completely believable in their roles. Kodi Smit-McPhee matches his vulnerability in THE ROAD and Chloe Moretz is as sincere here as she was in KICK ASS. They carry the piece building a pure friendship/love one revelation after another. And when Owen finally comes to know the truth of the situation, he seems at peace with it. Not to say he’s fully comfortable, but he understands at least.

And lest we forget the horror of this movie, it is plain as day that the monster in this film will do what it takes to survive. And it is as classic a monster as those of old, which is great to see after all of the toying with the premise of these creatures that we’ve seen so much of in these last few years of pop culture. The old rules apply. It ain't pretty what happens to those on the wrong side of the vampire.

In the end, it is a haunting tale that will make one think about the consequences of their choices long after the end of the film. A question shared by this film and the original. And, I suppose, the novel LET THE RIGHT ONE IN by John Ajvide Lindqvist which I have yet to get around to reading.

A media piece or two:


A trailer for the original Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN:


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