A remake of Tomas Alfredson's Swedish cult classic 'Let the Right One In', and adapted from a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, this latest take on an eerie and compelling story is likely to be remembered for all the right reasons.
Set in the 1980s, Owen (Smit-McPhee) is a young boy who is struggling to cope. He is a social outcast, bullied at school and semi-neglected at home by a mother who is struggling to come to terms with her marriage break-up. He lives in what must be one of the dreariest apartment complexes ever, and he doesn't seem to have anyone to call a friend. So when new neighbours move in, Owen is understandably curious. The young girl, Abby (Moretz), seems about the same age as him and is the first person in a long time to show any real interest in him when they meet in the courtyard of the apartment block, maybe because she doesn't really seem to fit in either. But Abby is not what she seems and a dark secret will soon test the strength of Owen's bond with her.
The story follows the horror suffered by Owen at the hands of the mean boys in school, his increasing dependence on Abby to escape the reality of his own world and the shocking lengths that Abby herself must go to each day, just to survive. The story is both fascinating and shocking. Its appeal lies mostly in the simplicity of the relationship between Owen and Abby in their otherwise very complicated worlds.
Kodi Smit-McPhee (who previously appeared in 'The Road') delivers a heartbreaking performance as the kid who just wants to be accepted by somebody, while his fellow lead Chloe Moretz (one of the stars of 'Kick-Ass') is exceptional in the role of his strange neighbour. Richard Jenkins' portrayal of her father is also worthy of praise, with the actor bringing the right amounts of desperation and devotion to the role.
'Let Me In' is intense, creepy and yet still, somehow, beautiful. Although a grim shadow hangs over proceedings, an unmistakable charm still manages to shine through.
There will be plenty who will question the wisdom of Matt Reeves' remake, referring to the old 'if it's not broken' mantra or asking why you would make something new that is so faithful to the old? You could try to find fault on those grounds, but as a stand-alone movie this is too powerful to be overshadowed by such petty qualms. The acting is superb, it's shot faultlessly and it will, most probably, reach a wider audience this time 'round because of language/translation issues. Those are not bad things.
Watch it, marvel a bit. Then watch it again.