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Friday, 1 June 2012

Watch The Right One

I previously ‘reviewed’ this without seeing the film because of my outrage at the original being remade, but I knew that was unfair, I’m glad that I have seen ‘Let Me In’ now. For one thing I think the title is better than ‘Let The Right One In’ which is a straight lift from the book. ‘Let Me In’ has the same muted palate as the original film and looks just as atmospherically grimy and dark. For me Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee are not quite as engaging as Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant in the lead roles. It’s easy to see why Smit-McPhee’s character would be picked on and is called ‘little girl’ by the bullies because of his androgynous quality, but I think that quality is unnecessary for the story.

Elias Koteas - Kodi Smit-McPhee
In terms of the setting, on the one hand it is to director Matt Reeves’ credit that the feel is not overtly American. Other than some of the accents there is none of the flag waving, none of the trappings of the US of A (notwithstanding the Pledge of Allegiance, which didn’t jar for me), and Elias Koteas presence plus Ritchie Coster’s Slavic(?) gym teacher as central characters at least provide some link to the European original.

It’s clear that ‘Let Me In’ benefits from the ‘advantage’ of a bigger budget, but the occasional CGI almost acts as a barrier between the audience and the film. The car crash is a positive inclusion, very effectively done and quite a jump when it happens, then again the underpass scene is inferior, less convincing than the original for me.
Ultimately it’s a different film, more of a horror story and less of the fairy tale than the original is, and to me that says that Matt Reeves has, either deliberately or through misunderstanding the original, taken a different path, despite many of the scenes being lifted directly from Tomas Alfredsson’s film. To be kinder you could say they are lifted from the original screenplay, to the extent that John Ajvide Lindqvist is credited prominently. I find it quite objectionable that the credit is ‘written for the screen by Matt Reeves’ because the vast majority of the work was done by Tomas Alfredson and John Ajvide Lindqvist before him, and there is very little that is new, it is clearly a remake of the film and not a new adaptation of the book.

Richard Jenkins
For all that I did enjoy ‘Let Me In’, the performances of Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas are excellent, and the central relationship between Owen and Abby is well handled and nicely played, but in the end I think ‘Let Me In’ succeeds because of the utterly engaging original story and brilliant source material, and only served to remind me how good the original film is. If you haven’t seen either film, treat yourself to ‘Let The Right One In’ first.

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