Wow, the Americans didn’t screw up for once!

But first, a public service announcement.  I really didn’t see this as a “remake” (and won’t characterize it as such).  They didn’t remake the original film, from what I’ve read.  Rather, and according to the ending credits, it was adapted from both the novel Let the Right One In and the screenplay for the movie.  Now, if they instead had “adapted from the film”, then we’d be more into remake territory.

Now, I won’t repeat much here, since a lot of stuff I covered was already discussed in the previous review, for Let The Right One In.  Once again it’s up to the lead actors to pull off the isolation of their respective characters (changed from Oskar and Eli to Owen and Abby, respectively), and they manage it quite well.  Kodi Smit-McPhee is becoming quite a good actor, both from this and what I saw of him in The Road late last year (which I think I’ll rent and write about in full length).  Chloe Moretz (she dropped the “Grace” apparently, but I’m sticking with the full name for tagging purposes) is proving to be a dominant child actor, given this role and her brilliant performance from Kick Ass earlier this year.  Richard Jenkins plays the father figure for Abby exactly as it should be played: a tired old man nearing the end of his life, pondering his existence as a caregiver for a vampire.  His role is quite haunting.

There are some changes that do work out for the film: the setting was moved to a snow covered 1980s New Mexico.  Some of the backing characters are removed or muted, with a police detective playing a central role in investigating the death of a former high school student.  The creepiness is still there – the film is beautifully shot, and the music adds to the atmosphere.  Probably the best sequence is during the second botched attempt of the father trying to get blood for Abby: he escapes with a victim in a stolen car, driving backwards and twisting around before being hit and careened off the side of a highway.  It lasts about 40 seconds or so, but the seemingly single take of this sequence – all from the back seat of the car – was very impressive.  That said, some of the special effects are downright horrible, mostly involving two of Abby’s kills (almost reaching the unintentional hilarity of the cat scene in Let The Right One In).

In the end, it comes down to whether the film needed an American version.  Probably not – the overall message of isolation, bullying and anti-bullying, and issues of existence doesn’t change – but it is made competently, and hopefully will let Americans to go out and search the sources of this movie, mainly the book and the Swedish film.

B+

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