Let Me In
Meatballs, furniture, Eurovision, vampire films… DOMINIC KEEN finds one more thing that the Swedes do better than Hollywood.
Directed by Matt Reeves
Click images to enlarge
For a film that revels in the explosion of claret from juicy jugulars and decapitated heads, Let Me In is a peculiarly bloodless affair.
A perpetually snowed in New Mexico town provides an isolated canvass of icy grey hues at daytime punctuated by the streetlight glare of the night. Here the story is centred on the growing relationship between Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Owen, and Chloe Moretz’ Abbey, whose mysterious arrival to the town at the dead of night along with an older man doesn’t go unnoticed from Owen’s probing telescope lens. Pretty soon a local schoolboy is found dead, followed by neighbours of twelve-year-old Owen, who finds himself increasingly alienated during school hours at the hands of three larger bullies.
At the heart of the film lies the breakdown of a family, and with an absent father only encountered through phone-line – as well as a perennially frustrated single-mother – Owen quickly forms a bond with the strange barefooted girl next door. If you have seen the trailer, then you will be aware that this is a vampire film, and furthermore that Abbey is a vampire – something acknowledged by the director as the audience is made privy to murders and blood-scrounging before any of the unwitting characters.
Matt Reeves, of Cloverfield fame, seems a strange directorial choice for a film that focuses more on teen angst and brooding self-loathing than the kinetic dynamism of being thrown from a helicopter by a 300 storey alien. That said, the best parts of the film are the visual flourishes that Reeves brings with him: locking the camera in place inside moving vehicles and adding a Hitchcockian style of suspense to several scenes, the director’s style has a spectacularly chaotic and frenzied payoff.
Unfortunately any such energy feels stilted by a script that employs a story told through powerful images and mute performances. Whilst both Moretz (teen star of the even more controversial Kick-Ass) and Smit-McPhee (The Road) are comfortably the best things in the film, there just seems to be something missing, a void of material or idea. Prolonged islands of silence in the script backfire, and what should feel like dramatic tension feels more often like absurd pretension.
Owing to the fact that this is a Hollywood remake of the last year’s Swedish hit Let The Right One In, Let Me In possesses the passive air of a film that doesn’t feel it needs to justify its own existence, or even to make a point. It ends neatly as the film completes its elliptical journey from flashback to the present, and is essentially a feel-good tale of friendship conquering (superhuman) adversity.
Unfortunately, the film just never overcomes the feeling that it is the tofu equivalent of a meatier, bloodier Scandinavian sibling.