Sometimes even young love can be truly wicked.
“Let Me In” from director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”), a remake of the Swedish hit “Let The Right One In”, opens this week with a teen vampire tale completely opposite from what’s become the norm on television and in film. This is an extremely dark story focused on a deep examination of love, evil and how quickly the two can intersect, and this thematic focus gives “Let Me In” a deeply satisfying bite.
Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a 12-year-old boy in a remote snowbound town in New Mexico. He struggles with bullies at school and with his parents’ divorce at home. His problems turn him into a loner with nobody to talk to until he meets Abby (Chloe Moretz), a twelve-year-old girl who’s just moved into Kodi’s complex with her father, (Richard Jenkins).
Except Abby is not a girl and her companion is not her father.
Slowly we realize the dark secret they both keep. Her “father” is actually a vicious serial killer, draining his victims of blood. He does this to protect Abby who needs the blood to live. She is a vampire.
As they’ve been in love for a very long time. Almost as long as Abby’s been a twelve-year-old girl.
But he is getting sloppy and as he and Abby begin to drift apart, Abby and Owen grow closer.
“Let Me In” is an incredibly confident thriller. Reeves never lets the tone slip for a moment as the oppressive dreariness of the film permeates its every second. The romance, the tenderness and the moments of innocence can’t escape the unrelenting gloom that hangs over this film, and it serves the picture brilliantly.
And in this darkness, “Let Me In” makes a shocking comment on the nature of evil: That it is normally the product of love. This could be the love of money, power, control and many other things, but in this cynical thriller, love does come without evil as a byproduct.
Abby seems to understand that, and uses love’s manipulative powers to push her romantic prey toward evil. Because she cannot live in the light, she must find a lover to do her bidding and supply her with her life force. She may be 12, but she’s been 12 for a very long time, and through this experience she’s learned what it takes to survive, and she’s willing to offer Owen the missing part of his life he needs in order to get what she must have.
It may be a harsh message, but it’s one delivered impeccably by Reeves in this film. “Let Me In” doesn’t waver for a second, building its tension with each taut set piece until its breathtaking finale brings about the most satisfying climax.
This is a film we can love without feeling evil for it.