Let Me In

Hollywood has an uncanny knack of turning the silk purses of world cinema into the tatty sows' ears of English language remakes.

Look no further than the clumsy re-imaginings of Bangkok Dangerous, Dark Water, Diabolique, The Ring, Swept Away and Vanilla Sky.

So it is no surprise that Matt Reeves's remake of the dazzling Swedish coming of age story, Lat Den Ratte Komma In (Let The Right One In), has been taking flak from ardent fans of Tomas Alfredson's original film.

It comes as an exceedingly pleasant surprise that Let Me In remains faithful to the previous incarnation while making enough alternations to the story structure to merit a new adaptation for audiences averse to subtitles.

Reeves relocates his version to 1983 New Mexico, to an apartment complex where 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives with his mother (Cara Buono).

Bullied mercilessly at school by classmate Kenny (Dylan Minnette) and sidekicks Mark (Jimmy Pinchak) and Donald (Nicolai Dorian), Owen harbours fantasies of stabbing his tormentors with a penknife and spies on the neighbours with his telescope.

Late one night, he watches with interest as a girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father (Richard Jenkins) move into the apartment next door.

The two children meet the following day on the snow-laden climbing frame in the courtyard.

'Just so you know, I can't be your friend,' says Abby, no flicker of emotion on her face.

'Why not?' asks Owen.

'That's just the way it is,' replies the girl matter-of-factly.

When the latest beating from Kenny draws blood, Abby tells Owen to hit back hard - harder than he dares - and pledges her support to end the cycle of verbal and physical intimidation.

'But you're a girl,' scoffs Owen.

'I'm a lot stronger than you think I am,' she counters.

Let Me In charts the extraordinary friendship between a boy and a vampire against a backdrop of paranoia and social change in Reagan-era America.

Reeves achieves a melancholic mood through cinematographer Greig Fraser's chilly colour palette and stunning performances from Smit-McPhee and Moretz.

The director keeps his camera focused tightly on his young stars - so much so, we never see the face of Owen's mother and the comical coterie of residents from Alfredson's version has been excised almost entirely, so there is no replay of the notorious cat sequence.

Instead, the writer-director adds a soundtrack and fashions of the era (a store clerk dressed in Boy George garb) plus a terrific car crash filmed entirely within the vehicle as it tumbles down a grass embankment.

However, the reliance on digital effects lets the film down badly - the CGI version of Abby bears scant resemblance to the morose little girl, who has 'been 12 for a very long time'.

  • Release Date: Friday 5 November 2010

  • Certificate: 15

  • Runtime: 116mins

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