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Review: Let Me In

Prior to production of Matt Reeve's remake of Let the Right One In, a lot of critics were skeptical as to why there needed to be an English version of a film that was less than two years old. In effort to not get sucked into the is this better, or worse than the original argument, I'll say this: Matt Reeve's adaptation of Let the Right One In is trying to accomplish something different than its Swedish counterpart.

This is not a shot-for-shot remake like Michael Haneke's Funny Games, Reeves keeps what works, but he adds his own vibe to the picture. Worries about the gore being amped up in a U.S. version are all for naught. The violence remains the same as well as the creeping tension of the original.

Owen is the product of a broken home, he keeps to himself and doesn't have many friends. In between classes he is tormented by bullies at school. Abby is the new girl next door and when her "father" isn't out at strange hours, he is skittish toward the locals. The two of them bond over their collective alienation and what strives to tear them apart may make them resort to some terrifying acts.

Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee's performances made it a lot easier to identify with the central characters, which was a problem with the youth from the first film.

Moretz is riding a wave this year with Let Me In and Kick-Ass and she makes Abby, a 300 year old vampire feel as real as Owen, which is no easy task. Portraying a vampire older than the country she inhabits takes the gravitas of an actress twice her age, yet she does not disappoint. Richard Jenkins is given a good role to work with and it's great to see him really sink his teeth into a morally ambiguous character rather than the bumbling father or comedic relief.

This version doesn't cover the sexuality of the original, but for me that's not really a loss, for me at least. It took me out of the film and wrecked its focus on a love story between two children on a subplot that should have been left to subtlety.

A few story flaws that were present in Let the Right One In are corrected here and keeps the film from delving into material that is better left on the cutting room floor. What Let Me In keeps that made the original so compelling is the circumstances we find ourselves in when we are forced to protect those we care about. In the end is Abby any more of a monster for defending who she loves than regular citizens walking down the street? Is Owen?

***/****

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