Thursday, October 3, 2019

LET ME IN (2010) Blu-ray Review

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Let Me In (2010) d. Matt Reeves (UK/USA) (116 min) (2nd viewing)

When it was announced that an English-language remake of Tomas Alfredson’s acclaimed Swedish vampire flick, Let the Right One In, would be hitting screens a mere two years later, many (including this writer) rejected the notion purely on principle, fearing the enterprise was doomed to be yet another lame Hollywood redux for mainstream plebeians who refused to read subtitles, hellbent on sucking out everything unique and replacing it with vacuous magazine cover-ready actors and goddawful CGI.

Happily, those fears proved unfounded, and while there may not have been any truly sound reason for said remake to occur (especially not so soon), the newly revived Hammer Films and writer/director Matt Reeves – hot off Cloverfield and soon to become known as “the Planet of the Apes guy” – granted John Ajvide Lindqvist’s source materials (both novel and screenplay) the respect they deserved, yielding a film that holds up well on repeat viewings and serves as a worthy companion piece.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), an awkward adolescent growing up in snow-swept Los Alamos, NM, lives an isolated existence within his ramshackle apartment complex with an alcoholic mother and bullied by his older, larger classmates at school. When a reclusive young girl named Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves into the flat next door with her “father” (Richard Jenkins), the two youngsters strike up a tentative, almost reluctant friendship. Each senses the loneliness in the other, recognizing the distance between them and the rest of the world, a distance which ultimately unites them.

But while Owen is struggling with the more familiar growing pains of childhood, Abby’s situation is quite the opposite – she is a centuries-old vampire trapped in an ever-youthful body, having outlived numerous companions (Jenkins being her latest) and forced to exist disconnected from “normal” society. As if to emphasize this, the only other adult character of note is that of Elias Koteas’ rumpled (and nameless) homicide cop, on the search for a serial killer whose crimes interconnect with Abby’s required feeding schedule.

Smit-McPhee (The Road, ParaNorman) is sublime as our young misfit and Moretz (Kick-Ass), who had already established her horror remake cred with appearances in The Amityville Horror and The Eye (and would go on to reprise Sissy Spacek’s breakout role as Carrie White in 2013) is equal parts tender, feral, protective, and guarded in her portrayal of Abby. Dependable character man Jenkins continues his reign as a national treasure, tendering a sympathetic performance of such yearning and desperation that we almost forget he’s responsible for presumably countless murders, while Koteas manages to turn a potentially stereotypical plot device into a flesh-and-blood character (aided by Reeves’ careful expansion of the role). Kudos should also be given to Buono, whose barely-there mother is almost hidden from view, kept literally out of the picture by DP Greig Fraser’s subtle framing.

In keeping with the plot and tone of the original, Reeves sets the events in the early ’80s, dropping in numerous references (Rubik’s Cube, pop songs of the era, Ronald Reagan on television) which add color even if the period setting doesn’t really add much else. There is also a magnificently executed car crash stunt that climaxes the stellar sequence of Jenkins’ character lying motionless in the back seat of a potential victim’s vehicle. If there is a complaint, it’s the jarring intrusions of computer-generated mayhem when Abby’s darker side is unleashed, with jerky, unrealistic movements taking us out of the scene. (That said, Alfredson’s film had similar clumsy effects that one also wishes had been handled in a subtler manner. Oh, those cats.)

On the whole, however, the remake is quiet, effective, and, perhaps most importantly, faithful without feeling redundant. During an era littered with soulless retreads of classic genre efforts, Reeves’ efforts in this respect prove nuanced and surprisingly welcome.


Audio Commentary with writer/director Matt Reeves

Picture-in-Picture Exclusive: Dissecting Let Me In

From the Inside: A Look at the Making of Let Me In (17 min):

The Art of Special Effects (7 min)

Car Crash Sequence Step-by-Step (6 min)

Deleted Scenes with optional writer/director commentary. (5 min)

Greenband and Redband Trailers

Let Me In is available now on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay and can be ordered HERE:


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