Less an unnecessary remake than a reimagining, Let Me In
twists the story of the original version just slightly, turning a moody Swedish coming-of-age cum horror story into a social commentary-tinged American horror tale with the coming-of-age plot, while still there, pushed a bit to the side in favor of some unspoken but very much made implications about the characters histories and motivations. Chloe Grace Moretz
gives us an Abby who is alternately heartbreakingly sympathetic and brutally monstrous, while Kodi Smit-McPhee(The Road
) turns in a nuanced but affecting performance that manages to make Owen seem more unstable than Oskar, an achievement which is nothing to laugh at.
Screenwriter and director Matt Reeves(Cloverfield
) adapted his version from author John Ajvide Lindqvist's original screenplay, and of course, some Americanization was inevitable. The setting has been switched from the European suburb of Blackėborg to a frigid Los Alamos winter, and the town's history as the site of the Manhattan Project seems to cast a pall over everything, with a odd sense of apathy coming across throughout most of the film's establishing shots.
With the changes to location and names also came some changes to the story. The "group of adult friends" storyline is excised in favor of a streamlined way of linking Abby's appearance to Owen's school and the detective invesigating the murders, and Owen's home life is changed to make him even more isolated and vulnerable. The bullies, as well, come across as more typically American in their ready use of physicality. The violence of Abby's attacks is increased slightly, but not to today's "gore" levels, with most of it coming during the pool scene, which continues on for roughly twice the length of the original, but with Reeves utilizing shadows and lighting to disguise most of the carnage.
All in all, it's easy to see how this got an 89% at Rotten Tomatoes
. It's not a slavish, shot-by-shot remake, nor is it heedless of its source material. It's obvious that Reeves was simply a fan who wanted to bring the story to a wider audience, and he did an admirable job, not least by securing the two young leads.