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Let Me In

Let Me In

What She said:

She

Just when I thought I was going to make it through the week without seeing a vampire movie or tv show Let Me In popped up OnDemand to save me from such a life void of bloodsucking, hissing, and brooding gazes.  Let Me In is a little different, though.  It tells the story of a child vampire, rather than the 30-something stereotype that we’re all used to seeing by now.  It is also quite serious, dealing with themes such as bullying, broken families, the innocence of first love, and justifiable homicide.  In fact, there are a lot of complex feelings in this film, including those of the viewer.

The plot revolves around 12 year-old Owen, who may be one of the skinniest kids I’ve ever seen.  It seems the school bullies have picked up on this as well and continually harass the poor boy, beating him up and calling him a girl.  Owen dreams of getting retribution, and sort of strikes you as a future serial killer in training.  But you’ll feel bad for him because these kids really hound him.  As if things at school aren’t bad enough, Owen’s home life is not much better.  His parents are in the middle of a divorce and he lives with his self-destructive mother in a pretty dive apartment complex.  One evening, a girl named Abby and a man move in.  Owen begins to encounter the girl regularly at night and learns that she’s his age.  At first she tries to avoid friendship but they quickly begin to like each other.  Soon they’re even “going steady.”  At the same time, people within the town begin disappearing and turning up murdered.  Owen slowly comes to the realization that Abby is not your typical pre-teen; she’s a vampire.  Owen is forced to decide where his loyalties lie.

This movie is kind of sad.  Everything is so hopeless and dismal.  We know from the get-go that Abby is not going to be around long.  She and her guardian must travel a lot because of what they do, so we know there isn’t much hope for a long term relationship between Abby and Owen.  Plus, there’s the fact that she’s a vampire.  That kind of complicates things.  Owen learns all the wrong lessons from Abby about how to deal with tough issues like bullying.  But then again, you kind of want him to beat the snot out of his antagonists.  And yet at the root of everything is this pure childhood love.  The whole thing is so complex.  You even have to ask yourself, is Abby just using Owen?

Anyway, the kids put in good performances.  I just wish I didn’t feel so down after this movie.  I yearned several times for Colin Farrell to pop-in and put a comedic spin on the vampirism.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

I can honestly say that I have never seen a vampire movie quite like Let Me In.  Interview with the Vampire did have a younger vampire in the movie, but she was not the focal point. On the surface, this may sound uninteresting to some. But I can assure you that the youth and the everyday types of issues they face play a very important part in the movie.  It adds a new dynamic to the vampire genre, all while still maintaining its horror roots.

Chloë Moretz plays Abby. She is a reclusive and mysterious girl who is new in town. She also happens to be a vampire. She is a real deal, blood-sucking, vampire.  Abby isn’t one of those wussy vampires who only feeds on bad people, animals, or nobody at all. She doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight. She eats people and has no qualms doing so.  

She isn’t completely void of sympathy though. Think of it this way, she seems to feed only out of necessity. She doesn’t draw some sadistic pleasure from it, but is simply eating much in the same way man would animal. She’s also trapped in this kind of eternal childhood. You can see aspects her of personality that are stuck in – and sometimes even long for – aspects of her youth, but deep down she has lived a very long time. She is a 12-year old girl, but one who has the life experience of someone much older.

Moretz pulls of the contrasting nature of that character’s personality very well. I’m really interested in seeing what becomes of her career, as I see some great promise in her. Her performance reminds me of Natalie Portman’s in Leon: The Professional.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a troubled young man who lives next door to her. His parents in the process of a divorce and he also has a major problem with bullies; which is beginning to show some signs of serious psychological trauma.  But when this new girl moves next door, there seems to be some hope. He likes her and luckily for him, she begins to take a liking to him (not in that “I’m going to eat you” way either).

Like Moretz, this young man is very good at portraying the youth, innocence, and somti,es dark aspects of this character’s personality. He has a very child-like appearance and demeanor; much younger than the character’s actual age. But the problems in his life are beginning to show signs of some very potentially violent behavior. He basically just wants to be a regular kid and would be if it were not for these outside factors.

I have to say though that Kodi Smit-McPhee needs to eat a cheeseburger (or 10). I thought he was skinny in The Road because of the setting. I figured maybe they did some makeup and digital work to make him appear sickly, but he really is that skinny!  Rant over.

As time goes on and bodies begin to pile up, Owen begins to put the pieces together. He suspects that his new friend has something to do with it. He still remains intrigued by the young woman though and their dynamic continues to develop. It’s just a testament to how screwed up this kid’s life is. How bad does somebody have it if the “normal” part of their day involves hanging around with a vampire? Many a talk show host would have a field day with this.

If this all sounds kind of hokey, I can assure you it is not. This is a very serious drama/horror flick. Like The Road, this movie isn’t always the happiest of movies, but it’s a quality one nonetheless.

I’d also like to quickly pay my respects to the young men playing Owen’s bullies. These were some of the meanest kids I’ve ever seen on screen. They made it very easy to hate them. Very good job playing the types of roles that don’t always get the credit they deserve.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 23, 2012.