An awful lot of trouble to go to just because some people don’t like subtitles, director Matt Reeves’ instant xerox of Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is about as doggedly loyal as remakes get. Let Me In is a dutiful, reverent replication, but I still can’t for the life of me figure out why this movie karaoke exists.
Taking a dim view of tweener interspecies swooning, the films (both adapted from a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also penned the screenplay for the Swedish original) upend Stephenie Meyer's romantic notions of vampire cuddling, with a bullied child falling under the spell of the undead gal next door.
Copy-catting Alfredson’s stark, wintery compositions and early 1980’s latchkey-kid malaise, Let Me In stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as our tremulous protagonist, whimpering his way into the affections of Chloe Grace Moretz’s Nosferatu-by-way-of-Juno. Dad’s out of the picture and Mom’s a born-again Jesus-freak, and after daily drubbings in the schoolyard, Smit-McPhee spends his evenings awkwardly bonding with Moretz, never suspecting her rather large secret. Things can’t stay sweet for very long.
As in the previous picture, a mood of ominous despair prevails. But Reeves is less trusting of silences, enlisting a cacophonous score by Michael Giacchino to ramp up the tension at odd intervals.
Moretz, so marvelous as instant icon Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, is slightly more accessible than her guttural, growling predecessor. But Reeves can’t be accused of soft-pedaling the gore. Or the cheap CGI effects.
If you’ve never seen Let the Right One In, this might all seem wonderful. But if you have, it’s just secondhand material with no personality or ideas of its own.