Sunday 27 March 2011

LET ME IN Blu-Ray review

Based on the Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (not to mention the original film version by Tomas Alfredson, Let The Right One In), Let Me In is an interesting spin on the vampire myth. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Set in New Mexico in 1983, Let Me In tells the story of Owen and Abby (Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz), a pair of young friends with complex backgrounds. Owen's a lonely young boy from a broken home, just starting to show some worrying social deviencies when he meets the new neighbour, Abby. What Owen doesn't know is that Abby isn't quite as innocent as she first seems, needing to feed on human blood in order to survive.

Owen is a troubled boy who needs a friend like Abby to support him. At the start of the film his main hobbies are spying on the neighbours and taking his anger out on a tree with a knife. Bullied at school and lacking the emotional support he needs from his mother, Owen has the potential to turn into the monster he thinks he already is, just like the creepy mask he wears when alone in his bedroom.

Owen and Abby may be a bit too young for it (Well, Owen at least), but their relationship is full of the signs of first love. Owen sweetly asks Abby if she'd like to 'go steady' with him, but neither have any real idea of what that means. As seen in their visit to the amusement arcade, Abby enjoys acting like a normal little girl, but knows that it's something she never can be, and is aware of the burden she may be placing onto Owen through their friendship.

Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas are both solid in what are the only two real adult roles, reflecting two possible outcomes of what could become of Owen. Barring the receptionist at the Hospital, there isn't any adult female characters on screen. Owen's mother is always obscured from view or shown out of focus, leaving Abby as the one reliable presence in his life. The film really does belong to its two lead child actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz. Both put in excellent performances and added to what they've already achieved, they're both talents to watch in the future. 

Although many scenes bear a close resemblance to its Swedish language counterpart, Let Me In does introduce some interesting elements into the narrative. The black bag mask Richard Jenkins' unnamed Father wears is truly terrifying, and the highlight of the film could well be the unexpected and creatively shot car crash. Of the parts that don't work as well, the swimming pool set finale may carry the same emotional resonance as the Swedish version, but it just doesn't look as good. Overall, Let Me In has managed to avoid the dreaded 'Hollywoodisation', but when Abby's blood lust takes over and she attacks the local residents, it looks too CGI enhanced and other-worldly, losing some of the shock value because of it.

Included in the special features on the disc is a behind the scenes documentary that goes to great lengths to flatter the original book and its author, but fails to acknowledge the existence of the original film. It's grossly unfair of them to overlook Let The Right One In when discussing the creation of this version, especially when it's clear it was never far from the minds of the filmmakers during production of this (let's face it) remake.

It's a shame their failure to acknowledge the original tarnishes the experience to a point, as this is a thought provoking and impressively made meditation on the nature of childhood, and the strength that can be found in having a friend. If you're a fan of the original film you may find this version lacking something in comparison, but if you're new to the material, Let Me In is an enjoyable, mature and well executed antidote to the saccharine banality of modern day Vampire films.


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