Fans of brilliant Swedish vampire thriller Let the Right One In understandably shuddered when news broke that Hollywood planned to do a remake. It would be shocking, wouldn’t it? And not in a good way.
Well, contrary to expectation, Let Me In isn’t the travesty so many feared. In fact, writer-director Matt Reeves (maker of YouTube-style horror hit Cloverfield) has come up with a movie that does the original justice – and works in its own right.
The story – bullied pre-adolescent boy befriends a vampire – remains the same. But the plot’s been carefully transplanted from the original setting of grim 1980s small-town Sweden to the no less resonant locale of wintry Los Alamos, New Mexico – home of the Manhattan Project and the site where the US developed the first atomic bombs.
It’s 1983 and Ronald Reagan is on the TV news, fulminating against the Evil Empire. “There is evil in the world”, he warns, but “America is good.”
Tell that to 12-year-old Owen, a lonely boy from a broken home, who is being bullied mercilessly by a trio of thugs at school. Things look up for Owen, however, after he encounters the mysterious Abby, a girl of seemingly his age, who has just moved into the apartment next door.
Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Viggo Morensen’s son in the apocalyptic The Road), and Abby, played by Chloë Grace Moretz (Hit Girl in Kick-Ass), each recognises in the other a fellow outsider and their friendship blossoms. Yet Abby, who only comes out at night, and who smells a little funny, is actually a centuries-old vampire…
Let Me In doesn’t quite measure up to Let the Right One In. Armed with a bigger budget and catering for a different audience, Reeves ramps up the action in places and spells out some things that were only hinted at by his Swedish precursors. But even if his version is more of an out-and-out horror film than the more ambiguous original, it remains chilling and touching in equal measure.
Add to this, fantastic performances from the young leads, solid support from stalwart character actors Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas, and the backing of the newly revived, back-from-the-dead Hammer Films, and you have a vampire romance that has more thrills – and more heart – than the Twilight saga.
On general release from 5th November.