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Film / Let Me In

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Let Me In is a 2010 horror film by Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame), starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, and Elias Koteas. It is an English-language remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In, based on the book of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It is produced by Hammer Horror, making this their first movie in decades.

In 1982, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, young Owen is tormented by bullies and frustrated with his parents, who are too wrapped up in their divorce to offer him much sympathy. Everything changes for him when Abby moves into the apartment next door. However, Abby is not what she seems, and as Owen strikes up a friendship with her, he is soon drawn into her dangerous life.

For tropes on the original book, see Let the Right One In. For tropes on the Swedish film, see here.


This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Thomas in this version seems to have been divorced from the clear pedophile storyline of Håkan in the book and the softened version of it from the Swedish film. Here there is a scene revealing that his counterpart met Abby when he was a child.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Jimmy is much more of a Big Brother Bully here, mocking Kenny for his injury, and basically threatening him into giving him his keys, which he seemed a lot more casual about in the Swedish film.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Abby's intentions with Owen are a lot more ambiguous in this version. While Håkan was recruited by Eli when he was an adult, Thomas has been Abby's caretaker since he was a child. This implies that she is just seeing Owen as a replacement, and he is doomed to become a murderer who will eventually be replaced as well. According to Chloe Grace Moretz, Abby does love Owen, but is also manipulative so that she can have him to herself.
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  • Adaptation Distillation: This version distills the plot further than the Swedish version did. Barely any characters other than the boy and the vampire even register, and one Composite Character is created to fulfill the function of one of the demoted characters at the climax. The film also adds more scenes between Owen and Abby, such as when he confides in her that his parents are getting divorced, and later tells her about how miserable he feels in Los Alamos and just wants to leave.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In Let the Right One In, Eli had dark hair and Oskar was blonde. In this film, Owen has dark hair and Abby is the blonde.
  • Adaptation Name Change: A lot of characters had their names changed to fit in better in America than Sweden. Oskar became Owen. Eli became Abby. Hakan became Thomas. Conny became Kenny (ironically his original name in the book was Jonny).
  • Adults Are Useless: Owen gets blamed for hitting Kenny on the ice, despite acting in self-defense, with the principal threatening to suspend him over the incident. There's no mention of Kenny getting in trouble for threatening to drown him.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Thomas still has a sad ending, despite the fact that in this version he's still a serial killer, holding a sobbing Abby in his arms and letting her feed on him before falling out the hospital window to his death. Especially considering what he does to his face to keep Abby safe beforehand.
  • The Alcoholic: Owen's mother, making her a Composite Character of Oskar's parents in the novel and Swedish film.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Abby has been roaming the suburbs of New Mexico.
  • Asshole Victim: Owen's bullies. Abby might be rather brutal when tearing them apart, but even if some of them expressed uncertainty about their final attacks on him, they were threatening to either drown Owen or leave him half-blind.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Abby's slaughter of the bullies at the climax is obscured; the camera remains underwater and focused on Owen the whole time.
  • Berserk Button: Whatever you do, don't try to hurt the boy the vampire likes.
  • Big Bad: Kenny, Owen's persistent tormentor.
  • Big Brother Bully: Kenny's older brother Jimmy. It's implied that it's because of him that Kenny became a bully himself, since he calls Kenny a "little girl" to mock him in much the same way Kenny does to Owen. He's also the one who leads the bullies and threatens Owen with either drowning him or picking out one of his eyes, to the objections of Kenny and his friends who think he's going too far.
  • Blatant Lies: When Owen's mother demands to know where he's been after being out with Abby, Owen unconvincingly claims he's been there the whole time. She seems to buy it.
  • Blood from Every Orifice: If Abby enters a place without being invited in first, she bleeds from everywhere.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In the remake, the bullies attack Owen until he wets himself.
  • Blood Oath: Owen cuts his hand and suggests this to Abby. Abby, being a vampire, takes it somewhat less than calmly.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The Swedish film relied a lot on long shots to not focus as much on the gory aspects. This film was more open to those aspects.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: A charming story where the bullied boy meets a charming vampire when she moves in next door.
  • Bully Brutality: The bullies that harass Owen and end up almost drowning him.
  • Children Are Innocent: Averted with the bullies and Abby being cruel and homicidal.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Oddly heartwarming. Kind of.
  • Creepy Child: Abby counts as one giving how she murders people on screen. Although she's been a child for a long time.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: One of the most intense sequences in the film has Thomas hiding in the backseat of a car in order to kill someone for Abby to feed on.
  • Dark Secret: The audience knows that Abby is a vampire the entire time; Owen finds out eventually. Stemming from this, Abby tries to hide the more gruesome aspects of her affliction from her new friend (such as what happens when she enters a house without permission, and what she does while sleeping/recuperating in the bathroom), but Owen deals with each in turn.
  • Darkness = Death: The finale pool scene starts out bright just like it was in the Swedish film but once the bullies come in they turn out the lights where the entire pool area let alone the pool is ridiculously dark as the violence is about to pick up.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The remake has two instances of this, since it takes place in the 1980s. The first being Kenny being forced to do laps for sexually harassing a classmate. If the movie had taken place in modern day, his punishment would have been much more severe. Another one was Owen being able to buy a knife at only 12-years-old, which would not fly as easily in the post-Columbine society.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of the mid level characters from previous versions are excluded from this version.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Owen has definitely hit this when Abby leaves him after killing the policeman. As he watches her go, he seems in shock and can't even show emotion. The next day, he just stares out the window at the empty jungle gym, crying his heart out.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Let Me In they try to kill Owen for splitting Kenny's ear, in self defense no less. This is distilled from the book where there was an ongoing series of events to get there, but this is the same level as from the Swedish film.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Owen is at first brutually targeted by the bullies until after Abby's encouragement he finally strikes back splitting Kenny's ear in the process.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Owen and Thomas to Abby, if you consider Abby evil. Kenny and Jimmy to each other.
  • Eye Scream: Referenced; Kenny's older brother threatens to put one of Owen's eyes out.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Thomas, after pouring acid on his face, looks all the worse for it when he is in the hospital.
    • Virginia, who is not only vampiric but getting rapidly burned by the sun.
  • The Faceless: Used to signify that this is principally a tale about childhood (more or less), with adult characters mostly peripheral and often fleeting. Owen's island-like status is emphasized by his absent father only making one scene by telephone, and his mother – a fairly constant presence in the book – appears numerous times yet is never once seen properly on camera: she varies from being a distant figure, a ghostly reflection or obscured by a door, to fully visible yet thrown way out of focus or seen only from the neck down; even a passport-type photo glimpsed in her wallet is crumpled to the point of indistinguishability.
  • First Kiss: Abby kisses Owen on the cheek after he tells her how he stood up to Kenny.
  • Foreign Remake: Let Me In is an American remake of the film version of Let The Right One In.
  • Foreshadowing: At one point, Owen tells Abby how much he hates Los Alamos, and that he just wants to leave and never come back. In response, Abby takes his hand as if inviting him to leave with her. He does just that at the end.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied that the reason why Kenny bullies Owen more harshly than the others is because he himself is being bullied by his big brother. His brother even calls him a "little girl" which is what Kenny has been calling Owen.
  • Gender Flip: Abby here is 100% female. Her counterpart in the book and Swedish film, Eli, was a castrated boy who for his/her reasons presented or was assumed to be a girl.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In a deleted scene, it's revealed Abby's uncle was a vampire who turned her after apparently raping her.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Owen's mother is clearly completely detached from his life due her own alcoholism and despondency over her failed marriage. She is completely unaware that Owen is being physically and emotionally tortured by bullies every day at school and is developing psychological quirks at home due to his sheer loneliness. She thinks everything is just fine and dandy with him. Owen's father, meanwhile, hasn't even seen him for an undetermined amount of time and is also oblivious to his plight. It's an ironic point that Abby, a vampire, shows more genuine concern for Owen's well-being than either of his parents. It makes Owen's decision to leave with Abby at the end of the film completely understandable.
  • It's All About Me: After he learns that Abby's a vampire, Owen calls his father and asks him whether people can be evil. His father assumes this is something Owen's mother is telling him to try to turn Owen against him.
  • Kubrick Stare: Abby does one while feeding on the man in the tunnel.
  • Lighter and Softer: Ironically in the same film that didn't mind showing more blood several characters are less morally murky in this film than the book and Swedish film. Owen is still a bullied kid who has a knife who thinks about attacking his bullies, yet he doesn't do a fraction of the stuff book Oskar did from shoplifting and setting a fire at his school. Thomas is separated out from Hakan by dropping all the pedophile storyline in favor of him having met Abby similar to how Owen did when he was younger.
  • Man on Fire: Virginia again although this remake shows it more gradually compared to the other versions.
  • Moment Killer: After Owen vents about how much he wants to leave town, Abby tenderly takes his hand, and it seems it might be heading toward a kiss... when Owen's mother calls out to him. Owen's reaction really sells it.
  • Must Be Invited: The movie universe takes this rule very seriously. When Abby violates it, the results are very bloody.
  • Nightmare Face: Played deadly straight with Abby.
  • Pastiche: Reeves cited E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as a stylistic influence on the film.
  • Prequel: The comic Let Me In: Crossroads, which John Ajvide Lindqvist did not want made (he unknowingly sold the comic rights.)
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": At the end, Kenny can be heard pleading with Abby in this fashion before she kills him off screen.
  • Reality Ensues: Owen pulls his knife on the four bullies when they corner him in the locker room... which does absolutely no good, as it's too small to do much damage. The bullies laugh it off, overpower him and throw him into the pool anyway.
  • The Renfield: Thomas procures blood for Abby. As such Owen appears to have taken over this role for the future.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Owen's expression in one scene plays off this trope. He worries he is being groomed to be this once he sees a picture of Thomas and Abby together when he was younger.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Abby slaughters Owen's bullies in order to save him from being drowned.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Owen's bedroom has a space theme, with posters of outer space and a space shuttle prominently displayed. According to Kodi Smit-McPhee, this is to symbolize both Owen's sense of isolation and his desire to escape from his surroundings. He also said that Owen's silver jacket is meant to look similar to an astronaut's spacesuit.
  • Sadistic Choice: The climax involves a sadistic contest of Owen being held underwater; if he can spend 3 minutes below the surface he just gets a cut on his cheek but if he can't spend 3 minutes below the surface, he gets his eye gouged out. Mind you he is also being held down by a bigger teen's hand which could also drown him instead. Ultimately it's subverted though a third option, as Owen's vampire lover comes to even the score.
  • Tears of Blood: If Abby enters a place uninvited, she bleeds from her eyes... and her nose... and her mouth... and pretty much everywhere else.
  • Theme Naming: A lot of the titles on the soundtrack album are based on quotes from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Undead Barefooter: Abby never wears any shoes.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Abby pulls one of these in order to lure in a victim, pretending to have been injured so that he'll pick her up, allowing her to feed on him.

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