Set in a sleepy old fashioned suburb where prayers are said before dinner and the pledge of allegiance is repeated in school, Let Me In is the story of lonely young boy who is drawn to his new neighbour. However the twelve year old girl hides a deadly secret.
A tense thriller that builds momentum gradually, everything is done meticulously. The careful placement of a pen and paper, the slow draining of a victim’s blood even the burgeoning relationship of Owen and Abby begins at a snail’s pace. While this works well in the beginning towards the end it starts to feel arduous, the goal always seems out of reach until everything explodes at once in a frustrating finale.
Another trick director Matt Reeves uses to increase the tension is that shots are out of focus, the camera too close to the subject or blurry around the edges, forcing your attention to the desired place. Indeed most of the violence takes place off screen or in the shadows, only the gruesome outcome visible.
Dark not just in its overall tone but also in the way it is lit, Let Me In is a beautifully shot film. One instance of a grisly mess on the alabaster ground is not so much gruesome as striking, the contrast between the bright crimson and dull white is like a brutal Rorschach test. The majority of the action takes place at night where the icy roads twinkle mesmerically in the dark and its snow covered world is a joy to behold. However the washed out pallet is continued throughout the day or during any inside shots, all are dull and dreary.
Adding to the excellent cinematography are the two young leads. Both Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-Mcphee are perfect for their roles. Kodi is convincing as the anxious and unsocial Owen and from her very first scene you feel Abby’s reticence, not just in how she delivers her lines but in her shuffling away from Owen, she is a timid presence until the CGI kicks in. The CGI however is a big let-down it is noticeably fake and while used sparingly it’s a jarring presence whenever on show.
Another downside is the underdeveloped theme of the existence of evil, after seeing Abby’s true nature Owen asks his dad this but no answer is forthcoming from his dad or indeed the film, it promises much but like the violence leaves most things up to the viewer’s imagination.
Verdict: Let Me In has a lot going for it; the early tension is expertly handled with some distinctly eerie music, out of focus shots and some absolutely gorgeous cinematography unfortunately the slow pace that works so well at the beginning is a crutch as the film drags towards an unsatisfying end. Three out of five.