‘Let Me In’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics have a hard time forgetting 'Let the Right One In,' the Swedish film on which it's based.

2010 has welcomed the twinkly vamps of “Eclipse,” the infected flesh-noshers of “Daybreakers,” the satiric teens of “Vampires Suck” and all manner of supernatural bloodsuckers in “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries” and other small-screen productions.

Vampires, apparently, come in all varieties: some with a taste for blood, others perhaps more interested in sharing doe-eyed love. But you may have seen the vamps in “Let Me In” before, in “Let the Right One In,” the Swedish film on which the new flick is based. Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) has undertaken a remake of that Nordic horror hit, and if you believe the majority of critics, he’s succeeded in his efforts to construct a worthy, English-language companion to the original.

While “Let Me In” will do only a fraction of the business of its fellow box-office newcomer, “The Social Network,” the vampire flick is a worthy option this weekend. But don’t take our word for it: Here’s what the critics are saying.

The Story
“An unusually heavy snowfall blankets New Mexico in 1983, when 12-year-old Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her eerie father (Richard Jenkins) move next door to lonely Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Between his parents’ ugly divorce and the boys who beat him up every afternoon, Owen’s having a tough time. Abby’s an outsider, too, but after centuries as a vampire, she’s got a bit more perspective. She warns him that they shouldn’t be friends; there are simply too many forces — including a nosy policeman (Elias Koteas) and her own blood lust — designed to keep them apart. But alienation proves a powerful bond, and they connect in ways that surprise them both.” — Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

The Adaptation
“It is gratifying to report that ‘Let Me In,’ that inevitable and abrupt American remake by ‘Cloverfield”s Matt Reeves, is more than just okay. It’s actually strong enough to make the case that not all remakes bite. A lot of this is due to smart casting. Just about the only kids you could imagine filling the lonely boots of [original castmembers Kare] Hedebrant and [Lina] Leandersson are ‘The Road”s Kodi Smit-McPhee and ‘Kick-Ass”s Chloe Grace Moretz. Reeves nabbed them both. As both writer and director, working from the original novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Reeves hasn’t strayed far from the original text. He’s changed names, relocated from Stockholm to Los Alamos, New Mexico, and made the story more literal and horrific to suit American tastes. But he hasn’t trampled it.” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

The Performances
“Kodi-Smith McPhee — last seen suffering as ‘The Boy’ in ‘The Road’ — has a spooky quietness as Owen. Chloe Grace Moretz — already astonishingly self-possessed in ‘Kick-Ass’ — is terrifying as thirsty little Abby, and the great Richard Jenkins is one of the few adult presences as a nearly mute Renfield type.” — Stephen Whitty, New Jersey Star-Ledger

The Dissenters
It’s an honorable attempt, but there’s still no genuine need for this film to exist. I almost wish they’d just sicced the vampire girl on Edward Cullen of ‘Twilight’ and called it ‘Let the Right One Win.’ In its defense, ‘Let Me In’ is as cool and controlled as its cinematic source (both movies have their roots in a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist), and response from early reviewers and in the horror-movie blogosphere has been unexpectedly positive. Yet as someone who has seen ‘Let the Right One In’ and therefore can’t un-see it, I kept glimpsing the original behind the tracing paper of the new film and wishing I could tear the paper away.” — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

The Final Word
“As its own film ‘Let Me In’ is very good. At times, almost great. It has elements that are less effective than the original and it has elements that improve on the original. It’s not different enough to have its own identity and if a fan of the original were to ask if it’s worth seeing my answer would depend wholly on what their intentions were. If it were a layperson who wasn’t serious about film I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. If it were a discerning fan of the art I’d tell them to see it only as an experiment after having watched the original. It’s not a shot for shot remake like Gus Van Sant’s horribly ill-advised ‘Psycho’ but it’s also not bold enough to try and forge ahead on its own and have its own life. As remakes go, it’s a very safe play.” — Nick Nunziata, Chud

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