LET ME IN
When mysterious 12 year old Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves to Los Alamos in the winter of 1983, right next door to the apartment inhabited by Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his mother (in the midst of divorce), Owen is instantly curious. A social outcast who is viciously bullied at school, he senses a soul mate in Abby and a profound bond forms between them. But Owen notices that Abby is like no one he has ever met before. As a string of grisly murders disturb the town, Owen has to confront the reality that his new friend, this seemingly sensitive and caring 12 year old, is really a savage vampire.
Review by Louise Keller:
Shimmering with the same tremor as the Swedish original, this bitingly different vampire movie offers a similarly heart jolting experience as two twelve year olds connect in the complexity of a blood stained imprint on the snowy environs of New Mexico's Los Alamos. Matt Reeves has taken John Ajvide Lindqvist's brilliant source material and sculpted it into a film that works on its merits, while injecting its own inevitable differences. The key is the relationship between Kodi Smit-McPhee's loner Owen and Chloe Moretz's Abby, and it is credit to the two talented youngsters and Reeves' excellent direction, that this is realised.
Smit-McPhee's sensitive face says it all; he doesn't feel as though he belongs. Bullied at school, Owen vents his frustration with a knife in a tree trunk outside the apartment block in which he lives with his divorced mother, whose face we never see. That's when Abby, who walks barefoot in the snow and doesn't feel the cold, notices him and they realise they have a connection. They both want to be alone and although Abby quickly tells Owen she cannot be his friend, an unusual friendship does begin. They share an interest in puzzles and communicate by tapping Morse Code on the common wall that divides their apartments. There's a compelling innocence about the way Owen asks Abby if she is a vampire; and it is their commitment to each other that forms the heartbeat of the film.
What happens outside Owen and Abby's relationship feels as though it is in another orbit. There are the bullies at school who make Owen's life a misery, there are problems at home and there are the terrifying murders that have been occurring in the woods nearby. What is the bond between Abby and her father? And when Owen is faced with the knowledge that the girl with whom he is 'going steady' has been twelve 'for a very long time', what does this mean for his own safety?
It may lack some of the delicate restraint of the original (Michael Giacchino's music score is a bit strident at times), but the essence of the film rings true. Greig Fraser's cinematography has an ethereal quality and the snow-covered landscape makes an important statement of its own. Above all, it is Smit-McPhee and Moretz who make everything zing and allow our own complicity and commitment to their relationship.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Snow falls on Los Alamos, New Mexico, where there are more PhDs than domestic workers, as an ambulance races through the woods. This town is an aptly offbeat setting for an offbeat tale about coming of age - and coming to terms with a pre-teen infatuation between a boy and the nice and quiet girl next door who turns out to be a vampire. It's how you tell this story on the screen that makes it special, and the Swedish original (Let The Right One In, 2008) had all the hallmarks of something special. It was a sophisticated use of the elements that appeal to young women in the Twilight series, except it had deeper emotional impact.
This English language remake is fashioned with the same understated tone and thanks to careful casting and intelligent direction, it successfully loses very little in translation.
Kodi Smit-McPhee continues his journey to superstardom as the 12 year old who is a virtual outcast from his broken home and bullied at his school. We never even see his mother's face in full, so small a role does she play in his life and we never meet his dad. Instead, Owen meets Abby in the snow covered playground in the grounds of their apartment block. She is quiet but he senses something special; she senses something in him, too. They are drawn together even before they articulate their otherness, their loneliness and their status as outcasts.
Chloe Grace Moretz proves her mettle in a serious dramatic role with enough depth and dimension to prove she is not a one or two hit wonder; she has a great future if fate is kind to her. Filmmakers should be creating suitable roles for both these talented youngsters.
Moving and haunting, sometimes bloody but always deeply affecting, the story carries the eternal truth about human nature that Shakespeare captured so vividly in Romeo & Juliet - the text Owen is studying at school.
Nuanced and often contemplative like European films rather than driven by action as most American films are, the film retains its authenticity of genre and delivers the bite that vampire films must have. But it does so in a way we have rarely seen before.
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LET ME IN (MA)
CAST: Chloe Grace Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barresse, Cara Buono, Chris Browning, Dylan Minnette, Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak, Seth Adkins,
PRODUCER: Alexander Yves Brunner, Guy East, Donna Gigliotti, Carl Molinder, John Nordling, Simon Oakes, Nigel Sinclair
DIRECTOR: Matt Reeves
SCRIPT: Matt Reeves (novel & original screenplay, Let the Right One In, 2008 by John Ajvide Lindquist)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greig Fraser
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ford Wheeler
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 14, 2010