“In a quiet town… Among ordinary people… Something Wicked Lives”
“THE BEST American Horror Film In the Last 20 Years!” –Stephen King
I would have to agree with you on this Mr. King. “Let Me In” has made it into my top ten all time favorite horror films. This 2010 remake of the Swedish original “Let the Right One In” is the hauntingly provocative story of an awkward 12-year-old boy who befriends a mysterious young newcomer in his small New Mexico town, and discovers a dangerous path into adulthood. Young actress, Chloe Grace Moretz steals the spotlight in this romantic thriller. Her acting is so phenomenal in this role; she practically shuts out Chloe completely and morphs into her character, Abby, an adolescent girl turned bloodthirsty vampire. I cannot say enough positive about this young star and the film itself.
Director, Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) captures vampire romanticism in a whole new way. This is not a new concept as millions of us have watched the love affair of Bella and Edward through every sickening kiss and disgusting glance in the “Twilight” sagas. But the love story that develops in “Let Me In,” between two 12-year-olds is both more intense and innocent.
The movie takes place in a desolate town in 1983. A police detective enters the hospital room of a severely burned man and tries to get answers about a recent murder for which he has been made a suspect. The conversation is interrupted by a phone call that prompts the detective to step out of the room. While on the phone in the hallway, a scream is heard, and the detective rushes back to the room to find that the suspect has either fallen or jumped out of the hospital window to his death. So begins the story…
Now the movie flashes back two weeks prior to the hospital incident. We are introduced to twelve-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) that plays a very pathetic character. Owen is a product of a broken home. He is a lonely boy who is always being picked and beat on by a group of three kids, one of which is especially violent. One evening, when Owen is alone in the courtyard of his run-down apartment complex, he is approached by Abby who has moved into the apartment next door. Talk about an odd introduction, right away Abby informs Owen they cannot be friends. Despite her words, they begin meeting in the courtyard each night and the relationship blossoms into an unbreakable bond. She encourages him to stand up to his bullies and fight back, which he does.
Abby’s supposed “father”, Thomas (Richard Jenkins), often sneaks out at night and kills local residents of the town to drain blood from their body’s in order to feed Abby. One night in particular her father failed to produce human blood. She was forced to go out and attack an innocent victim for herself. Sitting in the dark alone, curled up under a bridge, a passer by approached to see if she was injured. She plays the perfect predator as a young, trustworthy little girl. Her victims fall prey to her innocent face and she attacks at the most vulnerable moment. The attack scene is quote chilling. Her movements turn into unnatural, stealth-like, darting motions and the noises are disturbing.
On yet another occasion, Thomas hides in the back of a high school student’s car in order to kill him for blood. The student picks up a passenger, leaving Thomas’s plan spinning out of control. They stop at a gas station and the driver gets out and goes inside. With Thomas hiding in the back, he makes the snap decision to subdue the young man in the passenger seat with acid and then speeds away in the car. He crashes and the car plummets over a large embankment. Thomas finds himself trapped inside. This next part was difficult to watch. In an attempt to conceal his identity and protect Abby, he douses his face with acid. This leads us back to the hospital scene at the beginning of the movie. The severely burned man turns out to be Abby’s “father.” Abby hears about the accident on the radio and rushes to be by her father’s side. Unable to get into the restricted hospital room, she resorts to flying up to the ten-story room to see Thomas. He joins her at the window where he offers his neck to her for his blood. After drinking his blood, he falls to his death out the window. She returns home and is now staying at the apartment alone. This was a very emotional scene.
At this point, Owen and Abby are spending a tremendous amount of time with each other. He takes her to an abandoned part of the apartment complex where he cuts his finger to make a blood pact with her. With the scent of fresh blood in the air, Abby turns into her vampiric self and runs out to resist the temptation to attack Owen. Now fanatically craving blood, she darts into the open courtyard where she attacks an innocent woman who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even after witnessing this, Owen goes to her apartment and confronts Abby about being a vampire. He also learns that Thomas is not her father, but a man she has known since he was a boy. He has aged, but she has remained 12 years old for an unmentioned matter of years. Abby’s physical appearance when she “turns” is so creepy. Her eyes turn white and her skin goes pale. Her appearance is truly bone chilling when this happens. I can’t seem to get that image out of mind when she looked up at him after his blood starts dripping onto the floor. *shudder*
If you’re wondering what the title of the movie means, “Let Me In,” it is revealed now when Abby cannot enter a home without being invited. Owen must literally invite her through the threshold of his home or she will begin bleeding uncontrollably. I think this was an interesting addition to the story.
The ending to this movie is fantastic. During an evening gym class, Owen is confronted by the tormenting bullies who are now back to seek revenge on him. As Owen is held underwater, chaos arises as Abby slaughter the bullies. You see blood and body parts being thrown everywhere! They then make their escape together. In the last scene, Owen is shown sitting on a train with a large trunk beside him. Abby is inside so that she is protected from the sunlight. They tap out a brief message to each other in Morse code as the film ends.
In keeping with the usual horror movie sensations of dread, anxiety, and disgust, it’s also full of charming affection and tenderness. You realize Abby is a blood-sucking, undead, vicious predator… but viewers cannot help but fall in love with her. It is a true testament to how strong the bonds of friendship and love are at such a young, impressionable age.
Even if you think you’ve had enough vampirization to last a lifetime from pop culture (Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and so on), please find room in your heart for this one. You won’t be disappointed!
“She will keep you close, she will keep you safe, she will keep you forever.”