Anchor Bay // 2010 // 115 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 31st, 2011
Terror hits at any age.
Let Me In is based on the Swedish modern day cult classic Let The Right One In, a highly acclaimed horror film that had audiences reeling and critics raving about its solemn (read: nothing like Twilight) portrayal of vampires. Directed by relative newcomer Matt Reeves (who also helmed the hit J.J. Abrams produced monster movie Cloverfield) and starring Richard Jenkins, Chloe Grace Moritz, Elias Koteas and Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In sinks its teeth into Blu-ray care of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Set in a cold New Mexico winter in 1983, Let Me In tells the story of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road), a sullen and bullied young boy who is eking out a very mild existence with his little seen alcoholic and divorced mother in run down apartment complex. Into his life stumbles Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass), newly relocated to Owen's apartment complex with what appears to be her homely father (Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins, The Visitor, Eat Love Pray). Tentatively, Owen and Abby strike up a friendship as odd occurrences start taking place around the town, including the disappearance of locals into the deep freeze of the New Mexico woodlands. As Owen's young friendship with Abby deepens, he finds himself drawn into her otherworldly life that also draws the attention of a detective (Elias Koteas, The Fourth Kind, Zodiac) searching for a killer who may not be what they seem.
Once in a while a movie comes along that you have no expectations about and almost no prior knowledge of what's about to take place when the opening credits begin to roll. That was most certainly the case for Let Me In, a movie that truly took me by surprise. The only things I knew about this film were A) it's a horror film, B) it's a remake of a Swedish original called Let The Right One In, and C) it's about vampires set in a very realistic setting. Otherwise, I was pretty much in the dark as to its content, context and characters.
For those going into Let Me In I will tread carefully because the less known about his film, the better. Firstly, while Let Me In does have undertones of pure, visceral horror -- and often doesn't shy away from showing viewers in gruesome detail -- I wouldn't classify this as a typical 'horror' movie. Let Me In is slow to unfold and is hardly part of the glossy, flashy big budget horror remakes of the past few years. You won't find any quick MTV style editing here ala the recent Nightmare on Elm Street redo. Yes, this is technically a 'remake', but its goal is never to bombard the viewer's senses with grotesque monstrosities or thumping, contemporary music cues. Instead Let Me In focuses tightly on two main characters and very rarely leaves their perspectives, save for a few moments with the vastly underrated Richard Jenkins.
One of the more fascinating aspects about Let Me In is that it takes the vampire mythos and turns it on its ear. Abby's existence is not one of pleasure and fun, but of struggle and loneliness. Chloe Grace Moritz plays the character with just enough life to make her interesting, but what lies behind her eyes is pure sadness at being forced to live life as a 12 year old for the rest of her extremely long existence. The romanticism of most vampire movies is all but absent in Let Me In; Abby's budding friendship with Owen is the only light in her mostly dark world. Some of the same vampire conventions apply here, but they aren't used in the same ways as previous movies, which is what makes a film like Let Me In so special. Instead of focusing on gore or effects, Let Me In is really about atmosphere and the characters and their situations.
As noted, Chloe Grace Moritz is excellent in her role of the little girl with a great big secret. Accolades must also be given to her counterpart, Kodi Smit-McPhee, whose fragile and almost dainty Owen contrasts nicely with Abby's past. Richard Jenkins is an actor who could read the back of a cereal box and still be enthralling, and here he plays Abby's 'father' as a beaten and exhausted man. He and Abby's relationship is complex and, while never fully explained, is made all the haunting by the film's final few moments.
If I have any complaint about Let Me In it's that the subplot with Elias Koteas detective character is never half as interesting as the children's relationship (it feels as if the film would have been tighter had they left him out) and the special effects sometimes boarder a bit too much on CGI cartoon which broke my focus at crucial moments (I don't want to give away these scenes due to critical plot points, but you'll know them when you see them).
Let Me In is going to disappoint the generic horror crowd that only wants bogeymen in masks killing young teens set to a hip, modern soundtrack. To you dear viewers, I say move along and wait for the eventual remake of Leprechaun. For those of you who want something more to your horror film -- an atmospheric and character driven story that uses special effects not as punctuation marks but as a tool to help tell a fascinating story -- then Let Me In is going to be a perfect Friday night rental.
Let Me In is presented in 2.40:1 1080p widescreen. Anchor Bay Entertainment's work on this transfer is almost impeccable -- they've done a fantastic job of making sure the colors (the few that there are) and black levels (lots of 'em) look vibrant, crisp and solid. I noticed no major defects in this transfer (DNR, color bleeding) and found it to be very pleasing to the eye. Fans of the film will be thrilled that this transfer looks as good as it does.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround in English. Much like the video portions of this disc, the audio mix is a very good effort by Anchor Bay. The effectively moody film score by Michael Giacchino filters through all six speakers and the dialogue and effects are excellently rendered. Although this sound mix may not give you the same rollicking workout as some other high end horror films, it gets the job done and serves the film well. Also included on this disc are Spanish and English subtitles.
The extra features include a commentary track with director Matt Reeves (a nice listen for fans of the film, but casual viewers can probably skip it), "From the Inside: A Look at The Making of Let Me In" does a nice job of giving viewers a look at how the film was made (including story, characters, atmosphere and effects), a featurette on the car crash sequence in the film and how it was achieved (impressive to say the least, especially when you see all the different elements that were used to make it happen), a featurette on the special effects in the film, a second featurette titled "Dissecting Let Me In," a few deleted scenes, a poster gallery and a theatrical trailer for the film.
Let Me In is not a typical vampire movie, and that's something viewers should know up front. The film's rumination on childhood and the curse of immortality makes it an even more fascinating movie going experience than normal.
Let Me In is a shining example of how to do a horror remake right. Plus as a bonus, you'll finally find out what that cryptic title is all about.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Poster Gallery
* Cinema Verdict Review
* Podcast: F This Movie! (Let Me In)