“Let Me In”
Yes, I know, we’ve all seen enough
vampire movies lately to last us a while.
And this one is a remake of the Swedish version (“Let The Right One
In”) released just two years ago. And,
it relies heavily on child actors, which is always a risky proposition in a
major film. But somehow it
works. Perhaps because
Linqvist’s original screenplay actually contains a real story, which
delivers this particular horror movie from the smash-and-rip gorefest of the
current American genre of shockflicks.
Kodi Smit-McPhee (the kid in “The
Road”) plays Owen, a frail, introverted boy who lives in Los Alamos, New
Mexico, in a small apartment building with his mother, who always seems
preoccupied, talks angrily on the phone with her estranged husband about
terms of the divorce, drinks a lot of wine in the evening, and whose face is
usually concealed, or her back turned, or she’s shouting from the next
room. Yes, the distance that
Owen feels from her is palpable. There
is only one conversation with his Dad, over the phone, which is a real
heartbreaker, because he’s asking his Dad for help, and his father is all
too ready to blame whatever problem Owen may have on his “crazy” mother,
who’s “brainwashing” him. The
distant Dad apologizes for his recent absence, and promises to do better,
and Owen hangs up with “I love you,” barely choking back the torrent of
tears that comes immediately afterwards.
And we wonder how many conversations there are in
right now, just like that.
Kodi likes to hang out on the
playground, outside, and there’s something about the starkness of the
empty jungle gym, covered with snow, that accentuates how startled he is
when suddenly a girl appears beside him, barefoot.
He literally did not see her coming, and that’s a metaphor for the
whole relationship which follows. She,
too, is 12 years old, though she says “more or less”, and he wonders
what she means by that. She,
too, seems quiet, and appears to avoid contact with others.
She, too, lives only with one parent (Richard Jenkins), and he also
seems mostly distracted and often exhausted.
Abby (Chloe Moretz) tries to tell him that she doesn’t make
friends, and perhaps he should have listened.
Because Kodi finds himself surrounded by stories of strange
disappearances, and brutal murders, even of kids at his school.
But going to school is a miserable
experience for Kodi, because he’s constantly bullied by three bigger boys.
And even seeing their “leader” in turn being bullied by his older
brother hardly compensates for Kodi’s restless sense of isolation and
It would have been better to have seen
this movie with fresh eyes, so the plot development would be a surprise, but
with so many bloggers eager to give away plot themes, you probably already
know that the little girl is, in fact, a vampire.
The balance of the film involves Kodi coming to grips with a reality
he can hardly even understand, much less appreciate.
Yes, of course, there are moments of
sudden violence. And yes, there
is a hint of romance between these awkward prepubescents.
But what really hooks the viewer is the central story of a lonely
little boy trying to find his way in a cold, uncaring world with few
resources except his own lights, reaching for whatever emotional connection
he can find, which may describe most of us more than we’re willing to
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace
Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas