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No one could have predicted the cult and international attention given to Let The Right One In – a small vampire film hailing from Sweden. It had two things working against it. First, it was in a foreign language, and the western world has yet to fully embrace at the box office the treasures of international film. Second, the movie dealt with vampires, to which, thanks to everything from True Blood to the Twilight series, was a tired genre. Yet, this small foreign vampire film about a bullied boy who finds love and revenge through a young female vampire, went on to glorious recognition (it now sits #208 all-time on IMDb.com’s rating system). And for all its interest, when an English speaking version was being shopped around Hollywood, many (if not all) fans prayed that the original remain untouched and un-westernized. Enter Matt Reeves. Reeves had just come off the hugely successful Cloverfield in 2008 when the studio approached him with an offer to direct an English version of a film to which he admittedly had not yet seen. Matt Reeves eventually watched Let The Right One In, and like many of us, fell in love with the film. His only demand back to the studio was that they not bump the age of the two lead characters in an effort to make it more of an adult relating film. The studio agreed and Reeves was given the opportunity to make or break a two year old classic. Let Me In borrows just about everything from the original except the names of the characters. In the English adaptation, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee from last year’s, The Road) is a bullied kid in school who befriends Abby (Chloe Moretz of Kick-Ass), a strange new girl who just moved into his building. Owen has an innocence to his first encounter with Abby when she appears on the playground. He doesn’t probe with too many questions (like why Abby wasn’t wearing any shoes in the cold New Mexico snow). And when Abby quickly testifies, “Just so as you know, I can’t be your friend”, Owen quickly retorts with a school yard comment to deflect his severed feelings. As in the original, their relationship does blossom and Abby and Owen are soon exploring new adolescent emotions towards each other. Meanwhile, Abby still needs to feed, and she relies mostly on her minion only known as The Father (Richard Jenkins). The Father’s role is to murder civilians and drain them of their blood to which he brings back to Abby. But when a kill’s blood is accidentally spilled and another attempt to gather food results in a car accident leaving The Father in the hospital, Abby takes matters into her own hand and begins to hunt human prey for sustenance. This quickly prompts a police officer (Elias Koteas) to investigate the murders. The officer begins with attempting to question The Father who has doused himself with acid making himself unrecognizable and clinging to life. “Are you a Satanist?”, he asks the dying Father in attempt to understand the ritualistic type homicides occurring in his town . As the murders continue, the officer focuses on Owen’s building in an attempt to find the little girl that claimed to be The Father’s daughter. The film could easily just incorporate the police investigation and Abby’s attempts to conceal who she really is while trying to feed in a new town. But a more dramatic storyline follows Owen and his torment by three school bullies that use every chance they get to inflict pain or embarrassment on the overmatched Owen. From towel flicking in the locker room to threats of throwing Owen in the icy waters of the lake, the bullying is real and terrifying in depiction. Comparisons to the original will be impossible to ignore, but Reeve’s adaptation of the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel is just as good as the Swedish counterpart. The setting is moved to 1983, Los Alamos New Mexico, but the feel and the awkwardness and sincerity of the budding relationship is admirably maintained. Reeves does a good job of keeping the feel of the movie in the early 80’s. Everything from Ms. Pac Man and Gorf video games to Culture Club and David Bowie background music remind us that the film is initiated in the Reagan era. There were just a few things that were handled with less finesse than the original. Abby’s vampire movements when attacking humans reminded me of Gollum in Lord of the Rings and her voice became than a demonic sounding adult when agitated. But what Let Me In does right is keeping things simple. Reeves didn’t try to up the body count substantially or cut out subplots in an attempt to satisfy the blood thirsty western box office. Instead, the only difference was the placement of the opening scene which concludes with a title card taking us back “three weeks earlier”. The acting by the two young actors will be enough to generate buzz for the film. Reeves surprised us when he told the audience at the Toronto International Film Festival screening that he had not seen The Road or Kick-Ass prior to casting as both those movies were not available to him. Moretz and Smit-McPhee had more chemistry than many combined Oscar winners in bigger films. Let Me In is not the most frightening vampire film of all time, but it is sure to be one of the most talked about when released in October 2010. It’s exceptional storytelling accompanied by a fantastic original score by Michael Giacchino that reminded me of the musical score in James Cameron’s eerie Aliens (1986). Fans of the original can be assured that the essence of Let The Right One In was captured and that comparisons between the two versions will be hotly debated.