Let’s all just clear the air and admit that despite this movie being based on a novel, it was kind of weird for it to be made only a year or two after there was another film made based on the same novel. Using the excuse of “being based on a novel” doesn’t mean it’s only a coincidence that this came out after the Swedish film “Let the Right One In” came out, and most people assumed this was just a remake of that film. I enjoyed Let the Right One In, but have still only seen it once, and that was when it was in theaters. I was willing to accept that Let Me In would be different enough from the Swedish movie that I wasn’t going to sit there judging it and comparing it to the other film. Sadly, that task proved to be quite difficult, and it was hard to judge this film on its own merit.
I mean, I’ve heard of girls getting their periods, but COME ON! GROSS!
The film starts with a man being rushed to a hospital due to being covered in horrible chemical burns, and then mysteriously, his dead body is found on the ground after he presumably threw himself from the hospital window. We then get the “two weeks earlier” treatment and see a little boy named Owen, played by Kodi Smith-McPhee, being a loner at home and at school, which causes him to be bullied. One thing that grabs his attention is the new neighbors, a daughter and father, that seem to have a strange relationship. He meets the daughter, Abby, played by Chloe Moretz, and despite appearing to be his age, she warns him that they can’t be friends. We also see the “father”, played by Richard Jenkins, going out at night to commit violent crimes that result in him draining blood from victims. In case you didn’t know already, Abby is a vampire who, rather than getting blood herself, forces Richard Jenkins’s character to do it for her. Abby withholds this information from Owen for as long as she can, but he learns the truth, and accepts her for it. They form a deep friendship, that eventually turns romantic, or at least as romantic as two 12 year olds can be, and Abby feels the need to protect Owen. When the two weeks pass, we learn that it was the “father” who killed himself, causing Abby to leave Owen. After her inspiration to defend himself against bullies, and going so far as to injure one, the bullies find they need to take revenge and attempt to drown Owen in a swimming pool. Clearly Abby didn’t actually leave, as we see lots of violence that results in Owen’s safety, reaffirming their deep connection. The two then board a train to leave town together, with Owen committing his life to the protection of Abby.
The big advantage to this version was it had Elias Koteas. But sometimes, you need a little bit more than Elias Koteas…
The reason it was hard to judge this film on its own merit is because it was so incredibly similar to the Swedish version of this film, just not as good. The two children were good actors, but the film itself didn’t try anything different from what was successful with the Swedish film. Some shots were virtually identical, in theory, just not carried out as well. Another difference that was a little annoying was that in the novel, it is revealed that the female vampire is not a female at all, but rather a boy who was castrated, possibly in hopes of using the female vulnerability to get people to watch over her. This was completely glazed over in this version of the film, only acknowledging with lines like, “I’m not a girl,” or, “What if I wasn’t a girl?” Supposedly this was done to make the film more accessible for a larger audience, yet it alienated me after knowing the deeper context.This movie was definitely better than some other vampire movies, and I’m sure if you haven’t seen the Swedish version that this version would be totally acceptable, but, not for this guy.
Wolfman Moon Scale