Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let Me In = the real awkward teen falls for vampire story.

Let Me In", set in 1983, tells the woeful story of Owen (Kodi Smith-Mcphee) who is not exactly living the dream of adolescence. In addition to being thin, awkward and bullied, his fractured home life is anything but a refuge. Into his life comes new neighbors who will change everything. An older man and young girl move next door to Owen and he can easily eavesdrop on them from his bedroom. Owen soon makes friends with the young girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz) and almost instantly senses a soul mate. At first she is presented as timid, insecure and possibly neglected. The story moves pretty quickly and doesn't really try to hide that Chloe is actually a vampire, older than she appears and as much vicious killer as timid perpetual adolescent.

There, now we've done the set up; so let's dissect this movie. The atmosphere in "Let Me In" is stark and never lets you rest from the sense of foreboding and that is exactly as it should be in this type of movie. I commend the director for keeping the gore and blood at a level that satisfies without turning off the viewer. He replaces some of the visuals for sound. Just know, when Abby feeds her need, you will have no doubt what is happening even though it may be shot in the shadows or off camera. 

The acting is good all around but success rests on the four characters who take up a majority of the screen time.  I am in awe of Kodi Smith-Mcphee's portrayal of Owen.  I instantly connected with the character and Mcphee's ability to play both the hopelessness and rage of a victim. His bullying at school is the most humiliating sort and is lead by a student who I will describe as a sadistic, future closet-case who is pretty scary despite having Justin Bieber hair. Chloe Moretz would really surprise at this point if she failed to deliver an excellent performance.  You will, I think, also be blown away by how she conveys tenderness toward Owen at one moment and animalistic need for blood the next. Richard Jenkins, a chameleon like actor who in his career has done the silliest of comedies and the tautest of dramas, plays Abby's shadowy protector who has obviously sacrificed his life to feed her endless appetite and protect her from the consequences. Owen's mother is played by Cara Bouno and don't worry if you don't recognize her. She is excellently shot the entire movie out of focus with a glass of wine in hand or nearby in a way that clearly says the parents are unimportant in this story.

I'll close by saying that "Let Me In" is a dark, delicious Halloween treat that I highly recommend.