When I saw the previews for Let Me In, the American remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma), I was curious to see how the dark, sad vampire movie set in the suburbs of Stockholm would translate to an American setting and an American audience. Based on the trailers, the movie looked like it was mostly the same, but slightly more violent.
Let Me In focuses on Owen, a twelve-year old boy who is being bullied at school. On a cold, snowy night Owen meets his new neighbor, Abby, a somber girl who lives with her guardian, but is often left alone. As neither has any other friends, they quickly grow close. Abby encourages Owen to fight back against the bullies, but as Owen discovers that Abby needs to drink blood to live, he has much bigger concerns. Let Me In is largely not a vampire movie focused on scaring the audience; rather it’s a hauntingly sad story of young friendship and struggling with unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances.
Let Me In makes some changes from Let the Right One In, but the two are mostly similar, both in plot and style. As Owen and Abby, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz are exceptional. Their performances include the combination of childlikeness and worry that gives the script its wonderful haunted quality. While some of the subplots from Let the Right One In are substantially smaller in Let Me In, I didn’t think that these changes significantly altered the experience of the movie. The problem, for me, was that somehow the bareness of the setting in Let the Right One In, which enhanced the mood of the movie so well, did not translate the same way in Let Me In. Generally, Let Me In was not different enough or good enough for me to understand why they made it. Let the Right One In is a fantastic movie with wonderful cinematography, superb performances, and an engaging script. Although Let Me In is fine, it’s not as good as the original and it seems like the only reason it was made was so that American audiences wouldn’t have to read subtitles. 3.5/5 stars
Let Me In was written and directed by Matt Reeves, based on the novel and screenplay Låt den rätte komma by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It runs 116 minutes and is rated R for strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation.
In addition to a remake, I also saw a scary sequel. Recently, Paranormal Activity 2 broke the record for most ticket sales at a midnight opening of an R-rated movie. I had just gotten the courage to watch last year’s Paranormal Activity the day I saw Paranormal Activity 2 and I was impressed by the ingenious way the two movies intersect.
Much like the first movie, Paranormal Activity 2 is shot through security cameras in a family home, capturing moments in which the family experiences bizarre and frightening disturbances. The family is made up of the sister and brother-in-law of Katie, the primary victim of the first movie, and their two children—a teen daughter from a previous marriage, and a baby son. They also have a very trusty guard dog, who happens to be one of the most interesting characters in the film. Unlike the first movie, the family does not install the cameras with the intent of capturing the paranormal activity. Instead, they return from vacation to find that their house has been trashed and as a result trump up their home security. What they end up capturing on film, however, is far scarier than any mere burglary. The security footage is also augmented by the family’s home videos.
Unlike the first movie, there were a lot of moments in Paranormal Activity 2 that had me seriously questioning why the family was taping them. While a lot of the on-camera exchanges are helpful to the plot, they were not moments that people normally use as home videos, which made the production feel really contrived. At least in Paranormal Activity there was a clear reason why the camera was rolling. That said, there are some really fun and really scary moments in this movie. Sure, it was kind of stupid, but for the genre it was also effective.
What I was most impressed with, however, was the way the sequel didn’t just follow the first movie, it worked along side it so that the two stories of these two sisters intertwine giving the first movie more context and the second a pretty decent surprise ending. It was good storytelling and made for a more engaging experience. 3/5 stars
Paranormal Activity 2 was written by Michael R Perry, Christopher Landon, and Tom Pabst, based on the movie Paranormal Activity by Oren Peli, and directed by Tod Williams. It runs 91 minutes and is rated R for some language and brief violent material.