Twelve year old Owen is a lonely boy with no friends and a destructive household. So when Abby, a young girl, moves into the neighboring apartment, the two quickly form a close bond. Little does he know, however, that the child he has befriended is actually a vampire – a very dangerous one at that.
Right alongside movies like Buried, Let Me In is a true gem of a movie that never really got the recognition it deserved when it came out last year. Yes, it’s a horror movie focusing on vampires, so maybe your mind is just immediately processing that thought as, “Twilight! RUN!” Fear not – this movie is certainly no Twilight. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is one of the best vampire movies I’ve seen in a heck of a long time, if only because of just how different it is from other movies of its kind. Take note, horror producers; Let Me In is vampires done right.
The story itself is actually more a combination of horror and romance than just a simple scary vampire movie. Yes, it IS still a horror film, but giving cheap scares is certainly not the focus here – it’s the story of a bond forged between Abby and Owen that’s the real plot. Simply put, Let Me In is a sort of love story between the two characters, one that’s not at all over-done or forced. “Sweet” is a word that comes to mind when I try to describe it, but that may make it sound too much like a kiddie movie/chick flick, so maybe that’s not quite right. Course, well… Neither of those terms are fitting for this movie, believe me.
No, there’s certainly nothing heavy in the romantic aspect of things – it’s a very innocent relationship – but there definitely is a romance present nonetheless. And believe me, you will not be able to help loving the progression of the relationship as it happens – it’s like the two characters are meant for each other.
This is in part because the characters themselves are so endearing. I guarantee you will totally fall in love with Abby (ignoring the times she turns into a blood thirsty monster intent on eating people…. Wait, no, that actually makes her even more lovable). You know the writers have done a good job at making you care about the creature when you’re actually wanting the cop hunting them (who has done nothing wrong at all to warrant “bad guy” status other than doing his job) to die and the actual creature to live. And don’t look at me like I’m some terrible person for wanting that because you know you did too!
Owen is also a character you get pretty attached to – though not quite as much as Abby – as you witness the life he’s forced to deal with on a daily basis: Bullying at school, a drunken, overly religious mother, and a father who doesn’t really care if he lives or dies. He’s actually a sad character all around, but really, looking at the movie from a general basis, most of the characters have their share of tragedy one way or another; whether it’s Owen, Abby, or her father (let’s just say there’s more to the story of the father and Abby than meets the eye).
Of course, the characters couldn’t have this sort of effect on you if the people playing them didn’t fit their roles as incredibly well as they did. I was already a fan of Chloë Moretz’s, the actress who portrayed Abby, before this film because of a little movie called KICK-ASS. Haven’t seen it? Get out of my sight. Anyway, I knew that her part in Let Me In would be a totally different role than she had previously encountered in her acting career so far, a true test for her acting abilities, and her performance did not disappoint in the slightest. I’m calling it now: If this girl plays her cards right, she will absolutely go places with her career. She wasn’t the only one who gave a very convincing and emotional performance; Kodi Smit-McPhee was easily able to carry the main role on his young shoulders, and if this and The Road are any indication, he’s already on his way to greatness, too.
Now, let’s discuss the thing that everyone really cares about: the vampires. For once, a movie centering on these wonderful creatures didn’t totally butcher the subject matter. And believe me, in a world where things like Vampire Diaries and – even if I do enjoy it – Being Human thrive, I think we can all breath a collective sigh of relief at that. No, the vampires in Let Me In aren’t invincible super creatures who have no weaknesses – sure, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t stronger than the average human in some aspects (and, well, I guess I can’t ignore the whole flying thing) but overall, with the way they’re portrayed in this movie, they’re actually weak in many more ways than they are strong. They get violently ill if they ingest anything other than blood, quickly burst into flames and die if they’re ever hit by sunlight (something nice to see considering how many vampire-related things nowadays have conveniently forgotten the “no sunlight” rule out of pure laziness) and… You’ll see what happens when they enter somewhere without first being invited in. Daaamn. I imagine it goes without saying, though, that I really wish vampires were done like the ones in Let Me In more often; it adds a new depth to them that we simply never see anymore.
Let Me In doesn’t have an excessive amount of gore, but when we do see it it’s always extremely well done. Instead of resorting to being hoaky, kills are often not focused on. They are either being shown from a distance or just happening off-screen. This may seem like a cop-out to the sort of person who wants to see these things up close in every horror film, but let me assure you, the way it was done makes it much more effective than had they just gone the normal route and shown everything in a simple manner. The best example of this is at the end, and while I won’t go into too many details because I don’t want to say too many unnecessary spoilers, the shot we see of Abby’s blood-covered feet in front of Owen’s face is both simple and extremely powerful, being just one example of the great camera work used in this film.
Let Me In is one of the few remakes that accomplishes being a fantastic movie by itself and, granted, I haven’t seen the original – I’d say just by going off this alone it did Let the Right One In justice (I really need to see that movie soon). The characters are wonderful, the story manages to be very emotionally powerful, and the way it portrays vampires is amazingly awesome. How can you possibly get better than all that?