Let Me In
In bleak New Mexico, a lonely, bullied boy, Owen (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) forms a unique bond with his mysterious new neighbor, Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) who moves from town to town with a man who appears to be her father. (Richard Jenkins) Trapped in the body of a child, however, Abby is forced to hide a horrific secret of bloodthirsty survival. But in a world of both tenderness and terror, how can you invite the one friend who may unleash the ultimate nightmare?
U.S Adaptation of Let the Right One In
The back of the box does not do the movie justice. The first ten minutes have us in a calm landscape covered in snow and are rushed in to a high stress ambulance ride where we learn the man in the ambulance is a criminal that covered himself in acid once he was being caught. Once at the hospital, a detective comes in and tries to question him. When the detective leaves he writes, I’m sorry Abby, on a note pad and jumps out of a window.
Then we are introduced to Owen and his family. We are never shown the parents full face, the mom is drinking wine at dinner, and the father calls and they start fighting immediately. The next few minutes of the movie are for you to see life from the Owen’s perspective.
I really like this sequence, because most movies, horror or not, try and prey on our natural instinct to protect kids and portrays kids as stupid and unaware, but this sequence lets you know that Owen is aware of his surroundings. He knows the feelings of loneliness and the drive of sex, even if he doesn’t fully understand it. He knows what the problems in his life are and, how he wishes he could take care of them. Yes you want to help him, but you also want him to help himself. You feel the rage under the helplessness.
We are introduced to Abby. No shoes, just a jacket, observing. They both want a quiet space to be alone. We know Abby isn’t normal. If you know anything about lore you can guess what she is right off the bat. Also, without saying it aloud, they implement the fictional limitations of vampires throughout the film. The first being that she doesn’t drink dead blood. The man she is with drains a man before he kills him, and she snaps a man’s neck, after drinking form him.
You start to see how companionship and support can helps Owen grow. He is a kid and doesn’t understand his options, he only knows what he is presented with. When he meets someone he wants to impress, he starts looking for improvement . He asks his coach about strength training and you see his outlook change and his mood shift.
It appears that, in order to survive, Abby has never experienced the outside world. We are never told how old she is, but she has never heard of Romeo and Juliet or seen a rubix cube. She is clearly older than she looks, but retains her childlike wonder and curiosity. She also begins to change herself in order to impress Owen. Cleaning up, wearing shoes and the like.
They also show how her partner has to take people and how he is not a professional killer, but they do this without making it comical. They actually portray it as a stressful and risky process. Most people romanticize the killings of vampires, but this one makes it gruesome and anxiety filled as he waits in the back of peoples cars for an opportunity.
The most stress inducing killing, and rightly so, is his last, when his victim picks up another passenger and unwittingly sees him as he grabs his bag from the back seat. They tease you with suspense as the driver is paying for his gas and talking to friends while his passenger is attacked. In the Panic and confusion, the attacker crashes the car, is pinned, and burns his own face with acid to avoid giving Abby away.
You can tell that Abby' and her partners relationship has strained through time, but the love is there. The understanding is there. We move to real time, when we are in the hospital and the ‘suicide’ takes place, which we find out the reason he fell, is because he offers himself to her as a meal and his last offering to her. They also introduce another trope when she asks permission to come in. I think that there was a relief in death for him, but also remembering why he started the journey in the first place.
She goes back to Owen. She also seems happy that she can move on and start new. Life for Owen shines confident as he is confronted by the bully, but threatens to hit him if he tries anything.
Then they have the reveal of Abby as a monster to Owen. It’s more subtle CGI. Many movies rely on it too much and it just ends up translating poorly. They only ad CGI where it’s necessary and they mix it with practical effects and fx makeup. To avoid hurting Owen, Abby attacks the neighbor. Later it shows that the disease is transferable and that sunlight makes a big fire. Abby goes to talk to Owen and we are shown what happens if Abby is not invited in.
The detective makes his way to the apartment complex and knocks on Abby’s door. Owen had spent the night, and makes a noise that causes the detective to believe someone is inside. He enters by force, and finds Abby in the tub in a makeshift blanket cocoon. They use very soft noises and avoid harsh string throughout the entire film, so when you hear Abby’s high pitched screams, it is very jarring. That, and the sight of a small child covered in blood always makes for a terrifying image.
Near the end with the pool seen was the only time in the movie I actually felt dread. They get the bullies older brother to help. They drag Owen across the floor in nothing but his swim trunks and throw him in the pool. threaten to take out an eye and hold him under water. Then Abby comes. They never show too much, but imply that many limbs are being torn and that death is being ensued. After being saved, he looks at her, and it is implied that she is in wings and all, but he isn’t scared.
The final scene is on the train with her trunk and Owen riding along. the setting is very calm and happy. Owen eating his favorite candy and talking to Abby, in the trunk, in morse code.
The Story Overall:
The overall story is great. It leaves you with question, but a sense of completion. It makes you wonder how many times she has gone through this cycle and if the end result was always her plan. Does she actually have feelings for her caretakers, or does she merely see them as a means to an end? I don’t mean to say that she planned every step, but did she play Owen’s wants to her advantage or was it all genuine?
You don’t care what happens to the parents, because you saw how they ignored him, you don’t care about the bullies, because you saw what they did to him, and you don’t really care about the detective, because you were never introduced to his personal life. You might feel bad for the first care taker, but the thought of the older man with a twelve year old girl probably made you happy he was out of the picture. Leaving a lonely child with a lonely child, but with the understanding that the cycle will start again.
It draws you in with horror and keeps you with caring. Overall, a great movie. Did it scare me? Not really, but that is kind of the point. There are many categories in horror and this one did have moments of dread and nothing makes you feel more dread than knowing the feeling of hope right before you realize the inevitable.
This isn’t a movie for people who want jump scares and an linear story. This movie is for people that want to become engrossed in atmosphere and have something to talk about after the film.