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Let Me In

This is the first time I've reviewed a direct remake, so if this is sub par, it will be due to me not quite knowing how to do it I tried to review it without any comparison to the original film or novel, but it was impossible for me to do. Therefore, this is more of a comparison, I feel as though that's inevitable? But anyway, here it is, my review of Let Me In! I'll drop the link to the review of Let the Right One In at the bottom, since I'll refer to it throughout the duration of this review!

I could have just sent the link to my Let the Right One In review right here, but that wouldn't be right, because its positives were not transferred to this film. With that being said, the technicalities of the film are on par with the original. It is nice to look at, and evidently harnesses the modern technology that its budget granted it access to, but then again, I still think that LTROI was more complex and better in this regard, because its cinematography and mise-en-scene worked in combination with a multitude of other factors. Let Me In is more disjointed, but I will sharply get on to that!

But moving on to the acting, I do feel that some of the cast deserve praise. Particularly Kodi Smit Mcphee who portrayed a tortured soul desperate for some form of companionship rather well. Was he as good as the original Kåre Hedebrant? I'd say he is, but Hedebrant had a significantly stronger script to work with, which levels it out somewhat since Oskar out trumps Owen.

One varying approach this film took which was interesting was its soundtrack. Instead of using a romantic, hopefully enchanting score, they take some inspiration from this, but largely use a more expected, darker one. Nevertheless, it used rather effectively.

As for the film's other merits, and I'm sorry for being blunt, they're only in there because of the work of the original Swedish production and novel.

This is going to be lengthy, so bare with me to begin with, I felt the film tried too hard to be scary or frightening. Everything was so dark, or at least tried to be, not just in regard to the lighting, but especially in regards to Chloe Moretz as "Abby". From the first moment we see her, she wears this threatening expression that just isn't because she's a pre-adolescent girl that is barely five foot tall. She is clad in dark clothing to convey how she's oh so mysterious and brooding, and oh god, the CGI... it stuck out like a sore thumb. It made me cringe out of embarrassment, because it made scenes feel gratuitously over the top, with this banshee leaping everywhere whilst attacking someone. I'd compare it to someone gushing whilst accepting an award, you understand that they're happy, but they're doing it very forcefully and not quite knowing where to stop, leaving you wishing it would just end instead.
They had it right in LTROI, we knew Eli was different because of her greasy hair, and her limited wardrobe that left her barely covered in a Stockholm winter which didn't seem to affect her. But for whatever reason, they make sure Abby's hair is pristine, her skin is pristine, she's heavily clothed etc. (bar her shoeless first scene) it doesn't make much sense to me.

It's also nowhere as dark as it tries to be, and this irritated me beyond belief, because it removed anything remotely offensive that could be found in the original film or book. Immediately, this created a problem, because it desperately did not want to offend anyone, but it tried to be disturbing. It was never going to work. What made LTROI so memorable and brilliant was partly due to its capacity to explore extremely dark themes like paedophilia, child abuse, and gender dysphoria in children with no restraint, whilst still creating a bittersweet outcome that was original and innovative. Literally all of this was removed. Abby sometimes hints she's not a girl, but she sounds like a young girl (unlike Eli), and sometimes counteracts these claims with cheap lines i.e. "I'm not a girl, I am nothing". Her care taker is no longer her sort of lover, so he's surrounded in mystery and is given no explanation for why he risks his livelihood for Abby. Owen's father is no longer a raging alcoholic, but a compassionate, adoring father, which leaves Owen's character not quite as isolated or lonely as his Swedish counterpart, Oskar, meaning it's more difficult to pity him.
Even the title was changed out of fear Let the Right One In was too long they assume the viewer is ignorant, and can't or won't handle the original material. Basically, the result is that a substantial amount of sub plots are removed entirely, and a range of crucial characters in the original material are reduced to cameos, despite the impact of their scenes in the original production (Virginia's torturous transformation and death is vastly reduced to a young, mute model who is on screen for less than 5 minutes). The vast majority of supporting characters have their depth stripped away from them here.

What this effectively results in is a film that does not know what approach to take, so it instead relies upon traditional tropes or signifiers to attempt to make it disturbing. Which, for me, makes it forgettable, because we've seen stuff like it countless times before.

In other words, Let the Right One in was subtle and complex, and occupied a haunting presence throughout every scene with ease. Let Me In takes what was subtle, and shoves it in your face, and comes across as a run of the mill horror. I'll illustrate this by posting the pool scenes in each film, because I think they perfectly embody what I'm attempting to say

88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.2 on IMDb is obscene for a film that disregards its original piece to such a considerable degree, leaving it a confused jumble of a film that never figures out what it wants to be, or what direction it wishes to take. Just watch Let the Right One In instead, or if you don't like subtitles, read the book, because this film does neither of them any justice.

Remakes create an opportunity as well, I think, to add something new to the film, or to include elements of the source material that its predecessor didn't. This opportunity was wasted, and the fact Matt Reeves takes credit for writing and directing the film is a bit insulting when he takes the original film, and simply somewhat butchers it. There's nothing new, just a lot of stuff lost.

Moral of the story: pandering down to avoid offending people won't work for anything remotely related to horror.

Let the Right One In review!