Not that many people will have noticed, but the legendary horror studio Hammer has been resurrected quite suddenly for the first time in 25 years, determined to reign supreme over horror once more. Yet if anyone is expecting heaving bosoms, creepy castles and Christopher Lee, prepare for disappointment. Instead, Hammer have chosen to concentrate on some decidedly un-camp vampires with Let Me In, signalling their newfound desire to be taken seriously. Unfortunately for them, the film is a remake of a Swedish original – Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In – that just so happens to be one of the greatest movies of the decade, and as a result, no matter how good the intentions of its makers, it is a film inevitably inferior to its foreign parent.
It tells the story of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely 12 year old boy living with his mother in New Mexico. Frequently bullied by his classmates, his isolation is ended with the arrival to the apartment building of an old man accompanied by a young girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz). The two children gradually become close, but in the process, it becomes clear that Abby may be slightly less innocent than she appears.
Writer/director Matt Reeves has announced publicly how much he loves the original, so it seems a curious decision to try and re-do a film so lacking in flaws. Still, his fidelity and enthusiasm show throughout as he sticks fairly closely to Alfredson’s film in both pacing and tone; indeed, it is somewhat frustrating to see Reeves so reluctant to give his film a more distinctive, individual feel, and at certain points, it begins to feel like little more than a pointlessly loyal translation. Yet while there are certain interesting additions, the only major change Reeves makes in his adaptation is for the worse, as he systematically excises the mysteries and ambiguities that made Let the Right One In so successful.
This essential, fatal flaw totally hobbles Let Me In; it is full of unnecessary simplifications showing an insulting lack of respect for the audience. The most glaring is the decision to tell us exactly why Abby lives with an old man. This move is utterly typical of the film’s timid and infuriating tendency to spoon-feed its audience with answers, and the result is a hollow, un-scary and thoroughly forgettable experience. Seek out the original on DVD instead.