mon 22/04/2024

DVD: Let Me In | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Let Me In

DVD: Let Me In

This American remake of Swedish vampire flick is too faithful by half

Young horrors: Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz in 'Let Me In'

If you’ve seen Tomas Alfredson’s remarkable Swedish adaptation of John Alfrede Lindqvist’s vampire novel Let the Right One In, then this US remake by Matt Reeves is far from required viewing. He shadows the original so closely, you’ll never be surprised or scared. But like a loving cover version of a favourite hit, there are pleasures in the riffs he plays.

The idea of a lonely, bullied 12-year-old boy bonding with a similarly isolated girl who tells him she’s been 12 “for a very long time”, due to being a vampire, works as well in Los Alamos, New Mexico as on Alfredson’s bleak Swedish housing estate. Kick-Ass’s Chloe Moretz as vampire Abby is blander than Lina Leanderson in the original. In trade-off, The Road’s remarkable Kodi Smit-McPhee digs far deeper into the boy’s misery than Kare Hadebrant, his hurt, hesitant face embodying adolescent pain.

A neon glow dirties the night-time snow in the playground where they meet. It also gives the film the authentic golden glow of Eighties Spielberg films. Alongside Reagan speeches about America and evil in the TV background noise, time and place are set with equal care as in Alfredson. But the relocation also means Reeves is largely replicating Stephen King’s insertion of Gothic horror into suburban and small-town America, which hasn’t been news since his own vampire tale Salem’s Lot, even longer ago. The painfully sad fate in the original of a neighouring couple who are the vampire girl’s innocent victims loses this crucial moral balancing, when Reeves makes them somewhat culpable, letting Abby, and us, off the hook.

Extras include a short making-of doc which studiously avoids mention of Alfredson’s film, and an ITV film premiere puff piece. Deleted scenes include a brief flashback indicating the vampire’s castration in the novel even more subliminally than Alfredson’s half-second shot of the girl’s neutered crotch. The Swedish film comes closer to the novel’s boundary-pushing sexuality and strangeness.

Watch the trailer for Let Me In

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