That’s the only description that I can come up with for the film Let Me In, a re-make of the 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In. Set in the pre-Internet world of 1983, the film explores the relationship between a young boy who is being bullied by bigger mean boys and a seemingly young girl who moves in next door but turns out to be a vampire. They’re both 12 years old, only she’s 12 forever. The boy, Owen, is played by Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee who certainly looks the part of a small-for-his-age, wimpy, lonely kid. The vampire who befriends him is played by Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), whose parents obviously don’t mind their daughter playing killers. When she’s not vamped-out, she’s an eerily beautiful, sad-looking girl. Her vamped-out persona is butt-ugly.
There are gruesome, bloody scenes for sure, which the preview crowd seemed to enjoy immensely. But the real focus of the film appears to be the budding relationship between two lonely, alienated young tweens – one by natural circumstance, the other by super-natural circumstance. Owen’s parents are involved in a contentious divorce. Mom drinks herself to sleep every night. Dad is nowhere to be seen. How and when Abby became a vampire is not revealed, which was a weakness in the film for me. She seems to follow the standard vampire rules: no sunlight, can’t come in unless she’s invited, abnormally strong and fast, becomes an ugly monster if she doesn’t get her regular blood fix -- you know the drill.
Uneven cinematography hurts the film. It’s as if director Matt Reeves couldn’t decide whether he wanted to make a surrealistic film or a straight-up horror flick. It’s a visual war between eerily-lighted and colored “arty” shots and realistic scenes appropriate to the place and season. It’s winter, and there’s lots of snow and a starkness that emphasizes the emotional wasteland in which Owen lives. There are some uncomfortable sexual undertones, and the bullying scenes are extreme and disturbing. If I were a kid, this film would give me nightmares. It’s rated “R” for a good reason. Unfortunately, there were some children in the preview audience. Like most of the adults in the film, some parents are completely clueless. The film is not bad; it’s just not that good. The preview audience seemed split into sections: the maybe ¼ who applauded at the end, the ¼ who said they liked it but couldn’t really say why, the ¼ who were disappointed that it wasn’t Twilight, and the ¼ who were totally grossed out. Should you shell out your hard-earned cash to see it?