PG Cooper: Let Me In Review

Posted: October 2, 2010 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Let Me In is based on the critically acclaimed 2008 Swedish horror film, Let The Right One In. Not only that, but it’s written and directed by Matt Reeves, the director of another acclaimed 2008 horror film, Cloverfield. With so many other films tied to this, a lot of expectations have fallen on this film. However, I haven’t seen any of those films, so I went into this with no preconceived bias or expectations. So did I enjoy Let Me In?

Let Me In takes place in a small New Mexico town in 1983. The film centers around a young boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Owen has it rough. His parents are going through a divorce, he lives with his mom, who neglects him, he doesn’t have any friends, and he is frequently bullied at school. Things start to look up for Owen however, when a little girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz) movies in next door. Owen and Abby slowly build a bond and become very close. But Abby isn’t normal. Abby isn’t even human. Abby is a vampire.

“Nobody likes little kids, especially ones that can’t act. It’s the kiss of death for your movie”-Plinket. Why am I quoting Plinket you may ask? Well, because this movie heavily relies on it’s two lead actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz. Both of them are under fifteen years old. So do they serve as the “kiss of death” for the film. Quite the contrary. Both are fantastic and their performances are definite highlights of the film. McPhee does a really good job of capturing Owens emotions from his vulnerability to his anger to his sadness. McPhee also does a good job at eliciting the audience’s sympathies. You feel sorry for Owen and you want things to work out for him. Moretz has her second great performance of the year (the first being Hit-Girl in Kick Ass). Abby is a character the audience has mixed feelings for. On one hand, she does seem an innocent kid and does treat Owen very well. On the other hand, she is dangerous and we see Abby kill innocent people multiple times in order to survive. All in all, Moretz manages to make Abby someone we care about, as well as someone we are afraid of.

While the two leads in this are fantastic, the other performances are significantly less grand. I was really disappointed with Elias Koteas as the policeman investigating a few mysterious murders (committed by Abby’s father.) While he is in the film a lot, he doesn’t play nearly as big a role in the film as he should. On top of that, his character has no real personality. The rest of the cast is solid. Most of the performances are solid, but nothing here really special. The only supporting actor that holds a candle to our leads is Richard Jenkins as Abby’s mysterious father. His character was actually really interesting. Everyone else here is just okay.

I really liked the story in this. Owen and Abby’s relationship is with out a doubt the heart of the film and is done really well. You really have no idea where their relationship is gonna go. Their scenes together are almost tragic to watch when you see how much they like each other, but you know Abby is dangerous. Other elements of the story, like Owen’s neglecting  mother, and Owen being bullied at school are also done well. The only story element I didn’t care for was the policeman investigating the mysterious murders. Like the character itself, this plot line had very little development and could have used some work.

The direction here is great. Reeves does a great job of creating suspense and setting atmosphere. The film is very dark, visually speaking. A lot of the film  takes place at night, Owen and Abby are both very pale, and the scenes in daylight have sort of a grayish look to them. The atmosphere here is perfect for this type of film. On top of that, Reeves manages to amplify the tension in several scenes by taking his time and playing with the audience.

Let Me In is a pretty brutal movie. For one, we have the scenes where Abby or her father kill, and then drain the bodies of their blood. While these scenes were violent, there were some scenes that actually felt even more brutal to me. These scenes would be the ones where we see Owen being bullied. They don’t hold back on the violence in these scenes. The bullies abuse Owen, both physically and verbally. Part of what made these scenes more brutal to me, is the fact that bullying does happen in real life (though admittedly, I have never seen bullying this extreme). The violence may turn some off, but I think it works in favor for the film.

As much as I enjoyed this, Let Me In does have some problems. I’ve already mentioned my disappointment over the policeman character and the lack of development to him and his story. On top of that, none of the other characters are really well developed. Yes, this is undeniably Owen and Abby’s story, but more well-developed characters would have been nice. Another major problem I have with this is the scenes where Abby attacks her victims. They use CGI and the CGI is terrible. It looks so cartoonish and silly it’s embarrassing. I usually wouldn’t be that mad about poor CGI in a film where almost everything else is done so well, but it’s used when Abby attacks, which is pretty important to the movie and to her character.

At the end of the day, Let Me In is a very effective thriller with two great performances and great direction. But despite my praise, I can’t shake the feeling that this had so much more potential. Still, what Let Me In does well, it does very well. If you are uncomfortable with violence and/or blood, then this is more of a rental. If not, then I do recommend  you check this out in theaters.

8.5/10

Comments
  1. ianthecool says:

    Great review PG. Though I do wish you had seen the original in order to tell me if going to see this is worth it for someone who has. However,m for those who haven’t, it sounds like it is one to see.

    And you should really check out Cloverfield. I just watched it last night actually. Great movie.

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