Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Movie Review: Let Me In (by Dave Machado)

Remakes are a very hard group of movies to properly review. I believe that the only way a remake can be deemed "successful" is if it is able to tell roughly the same story as the original but make everything so fresh and new that it almost seems like a different movie altogether. This may seem like a tall order but every once in a while, a movie succeeds at this task. Examples include The Thing, The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and even Dawn of the Dead. Let Me In however does not belong in this small group. While it may be amazing to someone who has yet to experience the original (Let The Right One In), this remake simply follows the same storyline and visual style far too much for it to be considered as a worthy remake.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie. I just felt that the it played like a great but very strict cover song. All the same beats were hit in the same style as the original except a few minor changes here and there that really add nothing to the story except to say it had some differences. Nothing from the original is "topped" in this movie but there are times where it comes very close to at least equaling it. The superb acting in this movie by the two kids Owen and Abby (Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz) along with Abby's "guardian" (Richard Jenkins) really saved the movie for me. Without their amazing performances, there would have been very little to enjoy about the flick other than the parts that I already loved from the original.

I really hate to bash Let Me In because if it wasn't a remake and was the first movie to adapt this story, it would probably be in the top 10 of 2010 for me. But I just can't get over the fact that an American studio felt the need to remake a foreign movie not even 5 years old. I am at least thankful that everyone involved did a great job with the movie because it easily could have been made into a terrible cliche vampire film. Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) gets some really great performances and some amazing scenery on screen (aside from some very cartoony cgi) and seems to hold the original in high regard. I actually think the issue is that perhaps he holds Let The Right One In in too high of a regard because he seemed afraid to take a chance and try something radically different with the story. 

I've heard a lot of critics say that if you have't seen Let The Right One In, then they highly recommend Let Me In. I disagree. I think that if you haven't seen Let The Right One In, then I highly recommend you see Let The Right One In. We don't live in a society where foreign movies are hard to find anymore. You can log on Amazon and have the original shipped to your house in just a few days or simply get it from Netflix (It's part of the "Watch Now" catalog!). As for Let Me In, I wouldn't hurry to see it in the theaters. I still recommend giving it a try at some point on DVD simply for the perfect performances but I do so with hesitation. Studios need to try making more original movies and to stop taking foreign films and "Americanizing" them simply because some idiots won't watch a movie with subtitles. If you are going to remake a movie, prove the remake's existence by having it be its own movie, not a dull copy. I hate to say this about such a well made movie but even if the end result is good, the reasoning behind it's creation is incorrect.

You're Welcome,


  1. Do you feel the same way about The Departed, True Lies, The Ring, and Vanilla Sky? Or would you argue that they were more distinct from the original versions than LMI is to LTROI?

    I think that LMI is quite different from LTROI. A color palette that is heavily yellow and black instead of blue and white. The excision of the bar gang characters and their world. Parents sidelined. Very different interpretations of Oskar and especially Eli. Owen shows more outward emotion. 'Normal' Abby is more feminine than androgynous (as with Eli) and 'bloodlust' form is monstrous instead of adult/aged. Caretaker character is developed and provided a backstory (that is different from the book). The bullying is more brutal. More pop culture cues situating it in the 80s.

    Think of the two movies as companions. Whether we loved or hated LMI - or simply thought it unnecessary - we can have fun comparing scenes between the two versions when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray.

  2. Good points. I can't really speak on the 4 examples you give because I never saw the original and then the remake for any of them. I will admit to really enjoying The Departed and The Ring though and I consider them movies that were worthy of their remake (though I saw the remakes before the original, so it may have tainted my opinion.).

    You also bring up good points regarding the subtle differences between LMI and LTROI. I still think the overarching story was too similar. I may have been a bit too quick to judge the movie though because I've found that the relationship between Abby and her caretaker has really stuck with me (a lot more so than in LRTOI). I contribute that to the amazing acting of Richard Jenkins.

    I'll definitely rewatch both movies at some point later down the line and maybe will be able to consider them companions of each other. Until, I stick by my opinion that while LMI was well made, it wasn't needed. I'm glad you liked it though. I never want to root for a movie to outright fail so I'm glad some are sticking up for it.