More than just another vampire flick

Thomas Crowley had trepidations over new film Let Me In, but finds something other than a generic vampire movie.

Let Me In is the American remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In which was released in 2008 to critical acclaim and has won multiple awards all around the globe. Both films are consequently adapted from the novel Let the Right One In written by Ajvide Lindqvist. According to Producer of Let Me In Simon Oakes ‘the story was so great, so beautiful, that it should be seen by a bigger audience’ (source: fearnet.com).

Lindqvist also wrote the screenplay for the Swedish adaption of his novel which became a best-seller in its country of origin. Writer and Director Matt Reeves had a tough task of adapting this story for the American audience while keeping the essence of the story alive. Let the Right One In is a story with great depth and Matt Reeves does a good job of staying true to the original text whilst creating sub-plots to suit the appetite of a mass American audience.

Having previously directed the jerky and annoying Cloverfield, Reeves surprisingly does the brilliant job of setting up an atmospheric background to this very dark story.

Reeves’ cause is most certainly helped along by the quality of acting in this movie. The leads in this film are two of America’s most promising, up and coming actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass). At a combined age of just 27 these two young actors deliver their dialogue brilliantly adding to the suspense and mystery of the plot. The two prodigies are supported by veteran actors Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading, Step Brothers) and Elias Koteas (Shutter Island, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) to round off a fantastic cast.

It is difficult to fit this film into a particular genre. Horror, romance, fantasy, thriller, crime are all good ways to describe this movie. The plot is centered on Owen (Smit-McPhee) and his relationship with Abby (Moretz). Both children are drawn to each other on account of a mutual feeling of alienation from society. Owen is being bullied at school and Abbey happens to be a vampire. It sounds ridiculous to compare a bullied child to a vampire but on some level this movie makes it work and watching their relationship growth makes for compelling viewing. The sub-plots in this movie are carried by Jenkins and Koteas.

Jenkins’ character is perhaps the most complex in the film and can be interpreted in many different ways. He is essentially Abby’s ‘carer’. He kills people and drains their blood in order for Abby to stay alive. His motive and relationship with Abbey is somewhat ambiguous. He seems to be the character that has changed the most over the three versions of the story. In the novel he is a former teacher before he was discovered to be a paedophile. His sexual lust for Eli (Abby’s original name in the novel) motivates him to kill for her. Reeves’ version of this character is somewhat watered down. Despite this he remains as one of the most psychologically complex characters in the film.

Koetas who plays The Policeman, is a character that does not appear in the previous adoptions of this story and who I believe is there solely to keep large American audiences happy. This character creates a detective story sub-plot to provide an outlet for an American audience and provide a bit more realism to an otherwise essentially fantastical story. The previous texts prove that the story can do without this character. Having said this, by adding this character Reeves creates a new dimension to the story and personal stamp on the plot.

Truth be told, when I first heard about this film I thought the American remake of this story was a way of making money from America’s newfound fascination with the Vampire genre and on one level maybe it is. However it also happens to be a well written, well directed, atmospheric film which harbours a plot of great depth and sophistication. Well worth a watch.

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