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Matt's Let Me In Review

Updated on May 15, 2011

What with all the vampire movies and TV shows out there these days, I personally have been actively avoiding most of it for the past couple of years.  Really, enough is enough already.  Having seen Interview with the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel – what I would call the last generation of vampire stories – the new batch from the current craze triggered by Twilight seemed somewhat lackluster by comparison.  That Let Me In was such an outstanding film does not entirely change my opinion on the general state of the vampire genre, but it is a notable lighthouse in the middle of a dark sea of mediocrity.  

Observations

- I was completely floored by the level of depth in this film. Let Me In takes many of the old themes and motifs we’ve seen before in various vampire stories and presents them in a fresh light. The best vampire stories are never about vampires. Vampirism is used here as a backdrop of a story about the pain of adolescence, and in particular the loneliness that goes along with being an outcast at that age.

- The main character Owen is bullied mercilessly over the course of the film. The viewer is left to decide what the most malevolent form of evil in this film is, the vampires or the people.

- This film is very slow and deliberately paced. I have no problem with the pacing, but it could be a turn-off for impatient viewers. This film relies heavily on the performances (particularly Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Chloe Moretz) and atmosphere.

(For my final bullet-point for this section, I’d like to talk about the ending. Obviously there will be SPOILERS, so those of you who have not seen the film are strongly advised to move on to the “Performances” section of the article.)

- Let me say upfront, I really liked the ending of this film. Owen’s eventual fate is left very open to interpretation. The popular theory seems to be that Owen eventually replaces Thomas as Abbey’s caretaker, providing her with blood. I, however, am a romantic at heart, and I think Owen will eventually be turned into a vampire. What I like about the “turning” idea is that it validates their relationship. If Owen does not turn then Abbey is simply a manipulator using him to survive, like Thomas.

No matter which theory you decide holds more water, the ending is tragic. Owen leaves town with her because he literally has no one else – his mother is clearly an alcoholic, his father is absent, and he has no other friends. Still there is something beautiful about the tragedy of the ending.

Performances

Let Me In rests squarely on the shoulders of the two leads, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz, and they both pull off their roles beautifully. They are both promising young talents, I’ll be very interested to see how their careers progress.

- I saw Kodi Smit-Mcphee in The Road not so long ago, and I thought it was incredible that he held his own opposite a heavy-weight like Viggo Mortensen. Now I know that wasn’t a fluke, he’s just that good. He plays Owen, a young, meek, and angry kid who is bullied on a daily basis. It’s a rare thing to see a film centered on such a character, and it works well here.

- Chloe Moretz is also fantastic in this film. There’s something very natural and effortless about the way she carries herself on film, and her delivery. Her character, Abbey, is played with a ton of vulnerability and a viciousness that borders on primal. It was a much more nuanced performance than I would have expected from most 12 year old actresses. I’m very impressed.

Music, Cinematography and Special Effects

- The music in this film is composed by Michael Giacchino, who I think will prove to be one of the best composers in the business. His work on Star Trek (2009) was inspired, and his score for Let Me In caught my attention. It augments the very palpable atmosphere of the film. Actually, it reminded me a bit of Elliot Goldenthal’s score for Interview with the Vampire in places. Fantastic!

- Cinematography – this isn’t a flashy film. As one would imagine, most of this film takes place at night, so it’s a dark film lighting-wise. I think the darker setting adds to the fairytale quality of the movie.

- This is not a flashy film effects-wise. Lot of blood, lot of make-up, all done convincingly. There were no bad effects in the film that took me out of the story. The movie will age better that way.

The Bottom Line

I really liked this movie.  I got a lot more than I was expecting, especially thematically.  The characters were well-drawn and well-acted, the script was good, the atmosphere was fantastic, there was a lot of tension, and the pacing was nice and steady.  This is the best vampire movie I’ve seen since Interview with the Vampire.  Let Me In will make you cringe one minute, and melt your heart the next.  Best of all, it will stick with you after you see it.  Highly recommended!  9/10

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