Let Me In
October 15, 2010
Chilling, edgy, and intimate, Let Me In is a heart breaking, heartwarming vampire drama that left me stirred.
When the school weakling meets the new girl next door, he is rocked by a haunting discovery. Chilling, edgy, and intimate, Let Me In is a heart breaking, heartwarming vampire drama that left me stirred.
Going to school is a daunting exercise for Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Small, meek, and introverted, Owen is constantly picked on by bullies in his school. At night, he sits, alone, on the play equipment in his apartment complex. On one of those lonely nights, he is joined by the girl Abby (Chloe Mortez), who recently moved in next door with an older man (Richard Jenkins). They strike up a gentle and tenuous friendship. Slowly, they both reveal their true nature to each other, making sacrifices for each other. As they begin to unmask, the reality of the people around them becomes clearer.
Writer-director Matt Reeves and writer John Ajvide Lindqvist (also the author the book” Låt den rätte komma in” on which the movie is based) develop all the characters in Let Me In with a rich and fluid complexity that moves the audience’s feelings about them between nurturing and nasty. Both Owen and Abby are painfully fragile and freakishly strong. All of the characters are repulsive, and yet, somehow lovingly relatable. Even the situation they find themselves leaves the audience wondering if they should be rooting for or against the characters. The weight of their decisions and the cost of making them is the most terrifying part of Let Me In. The intimacy of the characters is not about physical intercourse but true essential exposure – a truly scary proposition for us all.
As director Matt Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser successfully create a somber atmosphere for the audience to start their journey, but they don’t leave us standing sadly in dark scenery. Whenever the direction or cinematography can be used to enhance the feeling of a scene, Reeves and Fraser carefully use it to direct not just the eye but the heart. One moment the camera is telling you to cry and the next second, a simple change of angle or lighting makes the audience feel hopeful.
There is an incredible car chase scene that left everyone in the audience breathless. It may have been run of the mill if not for the placement of the camera. It felt like I was a passenger in the car, completely out of control, scared I might die. It was exceptional.
The supernatural elements in Let Me In are handled with a salty, uncomfortable, realism. Instead of being sparkling and glamorous blood suckers who kill without consequence; the people around the vampires pay a huge toll for their association. The boundaries and extent of love and dedication are constantly tested.
Let Me In has one chink in its armor: the truly obnoxious 80’s product placement. It is set in the 1980’s and there are numerous lingering nostalgia shots. At one point, the director makes a point of showing an old twenty dollar bill by keeping the camera on it for 3 seconds. In real life, three seconds isn’t very long, but in a movie, it is longer than Julia Roberts’ smile gets cumulatively in any movie. The placement is so pervasive, it sort of morphs into an unnecessary character in the story. By the end I wanted to shout, “Yes, Yes, I get it! It is the 80’s!”
Misplaced romantic attachment to yester-year aside, Let Me In is a captivating, complex, emotive thriller. The characters tapped me on the shoulder, the visuals grabbed me by the shoulders, and the story shook me. Let Me In is a series of gentle, ghastly, beautiful, entrancing paradoxes.