With the recent outbreak of vampire movies in the last couple years, it's always nice when a film comes along with an inspiring take on the genre. Let Me In is that film, but, because it's a remake of a Swedish film, it can't take all the credit. This film comes from director Matt Reeves, of Cloverfield fame, who wanted to remake a 2008 Swedish film called Let the Right One In so it could reach a wider audience. Just as Cloverfield was a refreshing take on big monster movies, Let Me In is an inventive take on the vampire genre. This film gives fans of blood suckers what they have been looking for with the right mix of mystery, humanity and good old fashioned bloody deaths.
The film, set in the winter of 1983, follows 12-year-old Owen, a skinny loner and constant target for school bullies, who lives in an apartment complex in Los Alamos, New Mexico. One night, a strange little girl named Abby and her guardian move in next door. Shortly after they move in the bodies begin to pile up in the small town. Abby and Owen start some kind of 12 year old romance that is more genuine than what Bella and Edward have going. However, Owen begins to pick up on the fact that his new girlfriend only comes out at night, has to be invited into someone's home in order to enter, and has to drink blood to survive. Sorry Owen, but you're dating a vamp.
Let Me In could have gone in the wrong direction if the cast wasn't as great as it is. You might recognize Chloe Moretz who plays Abby as the girl who played Hit Girl in Kick-Ass earlier this year. Even at 13 this girl has already shown incredible range as an actress with the best performance in the film. Her ability to go from a shy innocent little girl to a vicious killing force is such a surprise to watch every time. She makes you fall in love with her one minute, just as Owen does, and the next minute she's going for the jugular. Moretz's co-star is another up-and-coming actor named Kodi Smit-McPhee who plays Owen. Like Moretz, Smit-McPhee really charms the audience with his portrayal of the school bully's punching bag. The film isn't all serious business though, as Smit-McPhee's awkwardness around girls provides some great comic relief and makes the audience laugh out loud or awe at the cute factor.
One of the things that sold me on this movie was the vampire lore used and how it was shown. The regular stuff applies: sunlight kills, blood to survive, immortality, crazy speed and strength. Thankfully, there's no use of garlic and religious crosses, but Let Me In does use a very uncommon part of vampire lore where a vampire must be invited into your home in order to enter (hence the film's title). In my opinion this hasn't been demonstrated effectively in other vampire mediums. For example, in the fantastic vampire television show True Blood, when a vampire is uninvited from a person's home they literally get sucked out like a vacuum by some kind of invisible force (lame). I won't give it away but Let Me In does this part of vampire lore right. The film even does away with the stereotypical vampire fangs, but it's not a problem because they're replaced by a very gnarly demon-like face instead.
Despite the subject matter, this film won't scare you, but it will entertain you. Don't skip it out just because it's a vampire movie, check it out because it's a good story, has great acting, and it has the guy that played Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtles movies in it.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.