Seeing as how I picked the original Swedish film, Låt den rätte komma in, as the #1 DVD Release for 2009, I had vehemently sided with the group who truculently cried foul about an American remake...a year after the original...for seemingly no other reason than the "language barrier." So, yeah, I began the film with my arms folded, stubborn, bordering on disgusted. I might have muttered once or twice about how pointless the effort was. But, man, was this an excellent movie, let alone the absolute best remake I've ever seen, bar none.
And to think: Let Me In is helmed by Matt Reeves, director of Cloverfield, which I truly did not care for. Could be, I was at the end of my tolerance for overly shaky hand-held cam movies, but Cloverfield just didn't do it for me. Enough about that, though; I'm a Matt Reeves fan now. Just like that! Two new favorite directors within one week: first Adam Green and now Matt Reeves. This is some of the best cinematography I've seen in American horror. Terrific angles, superb lighting. Reeves captures and maintains the snow-laden bleakness and the 1980s setting of the novel (surely by now it's well known that this is a remake of a movie that was an adaptation of a novel), despite moving the locale from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. The only visual design I wish had been omitted was Abby's (i.e. Eli's) ocular effects and her erratic X-Menesque movements, both of which took a bathetic dip toward cheesy.
Aside from being beautifully shot, Reeves did a great job with the tone of the film. Somehow (and this is something I was worried about) the film tends more toward a darker, more horror genre film without losing the slow-burn coming-of-age character drama. The two genres are well balanced. There are moments, especially during the procurement of lifeblood, that are brilliantly chilling. And the tension between Owen and the bullies at school is so perfectly depicted, that, by the end, I felt terrified for Owen, the tension was palpable in a way I actually did not feel with the original. Furthermore, the film renders the sadness of Abby's harrowing existential situation and Owen's disheartening filial dilemmas. It's been a while since I've seen a horror movie that can both chill my skin and and genuinely tug at my emotions.
This is absolutely worth checking out. A big thank-you to Carl over at I Like Horror Movies for talking me into watching Let Me In with his recent review. Even if you're an Original Film Puritan, get a copy and give it a chance. This is a remake done right!