Let Me In is a great film with solid performances all around and a story that, for someone not so enamored with the vampire subgenre, really worked. Matt Reeves as a director was also impressive establishing truly scary and creepy shots without going overboard. It’s kind of a shame the film didn’t do better here but now on DVD and Blu-ray it’s well worth at least checking out.
Genre(s): Drama, Horror
Anchor Bay | R – 115 min. – $39.99 | February 1, 2011
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Writer(s): John Lindqvist (novel/original screenplay); Matt Reeves (written for the screen)
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Elias Koteas, Richard Jenkins
Theatrical Release Date: October 1, 2010
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Trailers, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 4/5
Obviously doing remakes is nothing new in Hollywood but I’ve noticed a minor trend in remaking recent movies as well for either a certain demographic (Death at a Funeral) or a different culture/country (Insomnia). This leads me to Let Me In, a vampire horror-drama based off of a book and Swedish movie entitled Let the Right One In. That version received universal praise which sometimes leads to disaster when a remake is done (see: The Vanishing), and yet this version – from someone who has not seen the original AND has a slight intolerance for the vampire subgenre – was pretty damn good.
The story primarily centers on a weird/loner kid named Owen (KODI SMITH-MCPHEE). He lives in small town New Mexico where his parents are going through a bitter divorce and he’s bullied virtually every day at school. Things get real interesting for the boy when in the middle of the night what looks like a father and his young daughter move in next door to Owen and his mother. The girl, Abby (CHLOE GRACE MORETZ), seems to be just as strange as he when he first meets her in the apartment courtyard as she walks around in the snow with her bare feet and although seems like she wants to be left alone stating she and Owen can never be friends, begins to hang out with him more and more. When Owen asks her how old she is, she replies: “12, more or less.”
On Abby’s side, we see that things are a bit strange between her and her father (RICHARD JENKINS). Our introduction to him (he’s only credited as “The Father”) is him hiding in the backseat of a car with a mask made out of a garbage bag over his head waiting. When the gal gets in and stops at a railroad crossing, he strikes knocking her unconscious and takes her into the woods, string her upside down, slits her throat and captures the draining blood into a container. We can all see where this is going, yes? Not sure how this differentiates from the original, but Matt Reeves (who also served as the writer) doesn’t waste much time in letting the audience know what Abby’s secret is… yeah, she’s a vampire.
Much like Twilight before it (although the novel for “Let the Right One In” actually came out a year before in 2004), Let Me In has an unusual romance that buds between two characters with vastly different lineages. In this case, it’s a little more innocent and thanks to how Matt Reeves directed these scenes providing a bit of Hitchockian suspense that takes the film far above any vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time.
As for the cast, I was really impressed with the two child/young teen actors who take on the majority of the film. Most often I can become quite annoyed with child actors as they either are terrible actors who look like they’re merely reading off of cue cards or trying to get their lines out before they forget them. With Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz, however, they come off as believable (a great feat for Moretz) and have good on-screen chemistry with just enough background to make the audience care about what happens to them and their circumstances.
The supporting cast fills in their roles well enough, though nothing outstanding. Elias Koteas plays your typical detective knocking on doors and finding witnesses to the grisly murders trying to find that missing puzzle piece of catch the culprit, so you’re not going to get much background from him. Meanwhile, Richard Jenkins deserves some kudos with a role that starts out as menacing before turning into something else halfway through. He doesn’t have a whole lot to do but as a veteran actor he manages to do just enough to further the characters along on their own paths.
As I mentioned before, Matt Reeves was impressive with his direction here right from the get-go. After the main title, the scene opens with some heavy bass beats and an overhead shot of two police cars escorting an ambulance down a winding road through mountains before going inside the ambulance to see a heavily scarred man as paramedics’ frantically work to save him. It’s not a terribly frightening scene per se but it grabs your attention and is important to the plot rather than something thrown in to scare the audience.
Reeves’ previous effort, the much hyped Cloverfield, was a fantastic piece of work mainly for the amount of special and visual effects done on a fairly limited budget and with Let Me In, there’s the same kind of efficiency with the shots that not only moves the plot along but keeps a consistent level of suspense and intrigue throughout.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
Audio Commentary – Writer/Director Matt Reeves provides an informative track laying out how the remake came to be, various shots and the story overall. It’s a subdued commentary and maybe adding another person in the booth would’ve helped things, but Reeves manages to keep going with minimal amount of quiet spots.
Dissecting Let Me In is a picture-in-picture feature that offers up behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with filmmakers and cast members while the film plays, some of which was used in the “From the Inside” featurette. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
From the Inside: A Look at the Making of Let Me In (17:04; HD) – This is a featurette covering the origins of the remake with comments from members of the cast and crew talking about the story, characters and other various aspects of the film. Although it is better than the typical EPK featurettes I tend to see, it’s also more of a primer than a comprehensive ‘making-of’.
The Art of Special Effects (6:29; HD) – This is a breakdown of the effects used from the animation, sim, FX, lighting to the final composition. It’s pretty cool to watch though having a commentary with someone in the VFX department would’ve been nice.
Car Crash Sequence Step-by-Step (5:34; HD) examines one of the film’s marquee scenes in which it looks like one shot in which the car flips over and over but mixing live action shots with visual effects. This is accompanied with comments by Matt Reeves (over the phone it sounds like).
Deleted Scenes (5:05; SD/HD) – There are 3 scenes here with only one of value that shows how Abby became a vampire. It does come with an optional commentary with Matt Reeves.
Under Trailer Gallery we get the Greenband Trailer (2:22; HD) and the Redband Trailer (2:27; HD). There’s also a Poster and Still Gallery for you to peruse.
There are also previews for Stone and Jack Goes Boating as well as a second disc with the digital copy.
VIDEO – 4/5
Let Me In comes to Blu-ray with a 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition. The picture isn’t mind-blowing but still detail levels looks good and the video is smooth and free of particles. As you can imagine this is a dark movie (even during the daylight scenes) but the colors still look about right without being too faded or too bright.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The disc comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which is effective especially early on during the opening and the aforementioned subwoofer thumps as well as Michael Giacchino’s (upcoming Captain America and Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol) haunting but beautiful score which utilizes each channel while dialogue comes from the center channel crystal clear without having to adjust the volume.
OVERALL – 4/5
Overall, Let Me In is a great film with solid performances all around and a story that, for someone not so enamored with the vampire subgenre, really worked. Matt Reeves as a director was also impressive establishing truly scary and creepy shots without going overboard (it reminded me of what Gore Verbinski did with The Ring remake). It’s kind of a shame the film didn’t do better here but now on DVD and Blu-ray it’s well worth at least checking out.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.