LET ME IN: You Got THE RIGHT ONE Baby?
If you've seen neither the original film nor this one, and if you're interested in either, the nicest thing to say about this version is, it'll do. If it's one of those nights when you just don't wanna read nuthin', LET ME IN will simulate the LET THE RIGHT ONE IN experience, without all the ümlauts. And, to "writer"/director Reeves' credit, he makes some choices which, though not bold, are clever. An early nod to REAR WINDOW, with Owen spying on his neighbors using a telescope and opaque fright mask, is a fresh and creepy addition. Richard Jenkins, as Abby's nameless caretaker, is even better in the role than its originator Per Ragnar (Is that even a name?!) and the mid-film sequence that puts him over the edge, so to speak, is an expansion and improvement on the sequence in the Swedish ür version. You have good ol' American CA$H to thank for that, movie-friends.
Well Amurrica, seeing as you missed LET THE RIGHT ONE IN in '08, here's your chance to see it on your own terms: LET ME IN, Matt Reeves' new English language remake of Alfredson's film, preserves the spirit, look, and plot of the original, making shockingly few missteps along the way. The adorably-named Kodi Smit McPhee stars as Owen, a child growing up in 1980's Los Alamos, New Mexico - which is, apparently, the Stockholm of the U.S. Who knew? A spate of grizzly killings breaks out in Los Alamos, just as Owen gains a new neighbor in his apartment complex: Abby (Chloe Moretz,) a shoeless and enigmatic young lady. Is Abby somehow connected to the murders? I'll give you two guesses.
Also unsurprising about LET ME IN is the fact that after two weeks in wide release, it's made barely $9,000,000, recouping not even half its production budget. For all the effort put into taking a cult film and instantly/slavishly adapting it for American audiences, American audiences still don't care to make this more than a cult film. All the attention that's clearly gone into this faithful remake, and the underlying question is 'why?' Why go through all this trouble, to come out with a product that's so similar to its source, and still too strange for most of our great nation's moviegoers? So that we don't have to read subtitles? Give us a little credit. We did invent jazz, and The Snuggie.
But for each gold star, there's a notch in the negative column too, at least according to this admirer of the first film... Elias Koteas' detective character, another new addition, is finally redundant; the original's Lacke, best described as 'Van Helsing as pathetic drunk,' was a far more interesting, and tragic character. And most egregiously, the original film's holy-shit exhilarating climax is mussed up here. It's a difference of degrees, a difference you may very well not give a breadfuck about - and one I won't delve too deeply into, in case you're eating right now - but let's just say that the Swedes did mayhem just right, and the Americans, perhaps unsurprisingly, overdo it just a tad. But a tad's a tad!
If you're looking for a smart, unsettling slice of occult fiction, head out to the theater now to see LET ME IN. Like, literally, right now. This movie will be gone in about 36 seconds, in order to maximize DVD revenue... But if you've got Netflix streaming, and don't mind suffering subtitles, the original film is ready to watch, instantly, and it is still THE RIGHT ONE.