Let Me In (2010)

It is with a heavy heart that I bring you this, the last vampire movie of the 2011 edition of the 31 Flavors. Sigh.

On the plus side, it gives me the perfect opportunity to ask a question: how many more fucking Twilight movies can there possibly be? How did four books turn into a decade-long nightmare of filmic mediocrity? I was sure the final chapter came out last year and should therefore be well on its way to DVD oblivion by now. To then find out the first half of the last movie hasn’t even hit theaters yet? Words cannot describe my surprise. It’s like Groundhog Day, except of instead of waking up to Andie MacDowell every morning, I’m surrounded by billboards of sallow-faced heartthrobs engaged in an eternal pouting contest. MAKE IT STOP.

What bugs me about Twilight, and to a lesser degree True Blood, is how damn apologetic the “good” vampires are. I’m not saying they should enjoy torturing and killing people, but neither is it wrong to eat the only nutrient that will keep you alive. Condemning a vampire for hunting people is like throwing red paint on someone for having a delicious steak.

I say treat vampires like any other carnivore. If they get to be a problem, issue hunting licenses to control the population. They’ll learn to kill on a subsistence basis and people will learn to avoid their habitats. And if people still choose to cut through Vlad’s courtyard in the middle of the night, they deserve to suffer the same fate as the idiots who surf in shark-infested waters.

Aw.

The story: 12-year-old Owen is one sad little dude. He lives with his soon-to-be divorced mom in a crappy apartment complex in 1983 New Mexico (apparently a much colder and snowier place than I would have thought). He doesn’t have any friends, but he gets plenty of attention at school from the most sadistic bullies since Johnny swept the leg.

Things start looking up for the lonely adolescent when a father and daughter move in next door. He forges a tenuous bond with the quiet young girl, Abby, who at first cryptically insists they can’t be friends. It soon becomes clear that Abby is an unusual child, and not just because of her penchant for going shoeless in the snow. The pale skinned little girl is never seen outside in the daytime, and her gruff father spends his nights driving around with a case full of strange tools. But as any pre-teen outcast will attest, you can’t let little things get in the way of making a friend.

Cooties are the least of your worries.

Biggest letdown: I fell in love with Let the Right One In, the 2008 Swedish film based on the novel of the same name. I try not decry American remakes of foreign films as a matter of course, but the best thing Let Me In has going for it is that it’s an extremely faithful copy of its beautiful progenitor. Broadening the market of a popular foreign film is one of the primary reasons for American remakes (that and the promise of increasing box office receipts by order of magnitude). In that regard, at least, Let Me In succeeds.

There are two main elements that are new in this version. Neither addition makes the movie’s existence necessary, and one actually detracts from the overall quality. The first new feature is the very American device of a dogged police investigator to drive the action. While I enjoy anything that gets Elias Koteas in more movies, the choice adds little more than an excuse for someone to wave a gun around. Although I have to admit I love the detective’s totally ’80s assumption that Abby’s victims are the work of a satanic cult. Satan was huge in those days.

I could never stay mad at you, Casey Jones.

More disappointing is the little vampire herself. Though the spunky Hit Girl from Kick-Ass turns in a perfectly fine performance, she’s too obviously a girl. That may sound like a strange complaint but the Swedish vampire was portrayed as completely androgynous, almost to the point of suggesting the creature was never female, even as a mortal. It’s exactly that sort of sanitizing that removes the wonderful weirdness of a foreign film and makes people hate American adaptations.

One last thing: the CG animations of Abby’s attacks are horrendous. They look like the troll fight from the first Harry Potter movie. For a film that goes out of its way to avoid genre clichés, bad effects are an unacceptable blemish.

Yeah, can I borrow a shirt?

Why you should watch: Whether you’ve seen the original or not, Let Me In remains an excellent vampire movie, carried off with a patient sincerity that most mainstream movies, let alone most horror movies, all too often lack. It’s refreshing to see a vampire who, while not taking pleasure in the brutality of her dietary needs, doesn’t spend her life plotting blood bank robberies or inventing synthetic substitutes. Nor does restrict herself to feeding on the blood of the wicked. She merely decides, as we all do, that she should not starve so her food can live. Every species kills to stay alive. It’s disturbing and frightening to see human beings on the shitty end of the food chain but, just like a shark eating a surfer, the predator’s actions can hardly be labeled evil.

No bitesies. Pinky swear.

Memorable Moment: We all know vampires can’t enter a house unless they’re invited, right? In almost all fiction, the lack of an invitation functions as an invisible force field that repels any entering vampire. Like its source material, Let Me In imagines this concept a little differently. When Owen asks what happens if he doesn’t invite her, Abby calmly steps inside and shows him. It is…unpleasant.

Choice quote: “May I come in?”

About the Rating System

5 Responses to “Let Me In (2010)”

  1. Let the Right One In was one of the best movies I have ever seen, scary or otherwise. Now I’m ready to see this one, too. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. […] Let Me In – So I can bite your face off. […]

  3. couldn’t they add a “please” to “let me in”? geez…manners these days.

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