Let Me In - Blu-ray Review

'retains the ambiguous morals of the source material: you find yourself naturally rooting for the central duo but consider the actions they and their companions perpetrate throughout'

The merits and de-merits of remakes can be (and probably will be) debated for all eternity but there's always one crucial element that proves difficult to argue around for the naysayers: what if the remake actually turns out to be rather good?

Such is the case with Let Me In, a near shot-for-shot remake of Swedish vampire thriller Let The Right One In, which itself is based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This version, which plays around with the title presumably to distinguish itself from the other versions, is helmed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves who installs Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz as his central duo.

With this trio of two young actors and one young director, the film pulls out its main trump cards over the original. Smit-McPhee and Moretz are clearly hugely talented and bring notes of realism to the left-alone youngsters which their Swedish compatriots sometimes lacked. Smit-McPhee in particular feels like he gives a more well-rounded performance of Owen who isn't entirely likeable, yet has the vulnerability to secure your attachment to him.

Reeves meanwhile shoots the film mainly in the neon-orange glow of soon-to-be burnt out street lights. It lends the whole thing an ethereal yet urban air which, again, sometimes lacked from the original, whose tone felt much more in tune with nature. Reeves' film never does, which is a nice reflection of several of the themes the plot goes on to explore. He's also careful to retain the ambiguous morals of the source material: you find yourself naturally rooting for the central duo but consider the actions they and their companions perpetrate throughout.

Where this pales in comparison to Tomas Alfredson's (back in cinemas this week with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) original is when directly comparing the key shots. The concluding moment in the hospital isn't as shocking or as hurtfully beautiful. The exploration of the apartment by the detective (in this version a terrific Elias Koteas) isn't as tense. The subway attack is marred by some horrible CGI and the final scene, so so beautifully done by Alfredson, feels rushed and flawed.

Like most adaptations of the same source material, Let Me In and Let The Right One In hit different notes of success to different degrees but those notes of success are there in each version. Neither is reduced by the other one's presence and, at the very least, Reeves here has produced a more than acceptable homage to Alfredson's work. On its own, it stands up as a difficult and challenging vampire thriller, which is proud to tread the road less travelled within the genre.

Look further...

'may not quite reach the ethereal depth of Alfredson’s film, but LET ME IN is one of the few remakes that truly stands on its own merits and even works as a horror film, something Alfredson’s movie didn’t do' - The Final Girl Project


  1. great review! i've never seen let the right one in, but i own and ADORE let me in. it really is an amazing film for every reason you said (so much more eloquently than i can). i was shocked to find myself rooting for the mc's as well. it's a special kind of cinema magic that can take us beyond suspension of belief- to suspension of beliefs.

  2. Well, I actually think your last sentence is incredibly eloquent! If you get chance, check out LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I'd be very interested to hear what you thought of it seeing as you're a big fan of the remake.

  3. I loved both versions. I thought that Let Me In raised a more interesting question. Who is the "father" figure. The photo booth photos posed the possibility that he is the previous "Owen" and that his fate awaits all Abby's companions.

  4. I felt about this one about the same as I felt about the original: well made, dark, intelligent, a nice step away from what conversation horror and just vampire movies in general have become but not the groundbreaking masterpiece some have claimed it to be. Good review.

  5. John - missed that completely. Incredible reading. Completely changes the way you not only see their relationship but the way you see the entire driving mechanisms of the film. I need a second viewing of both now!

    Mike - I wouldn't disagree with any of that. I think both versions are really solid horror films but they do have their noticeable flaws. Still, as you say, nice to get back to a proper vampiric narrative.