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Movie Review

Let Me In also known as “Let the Right One In”

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Very Offensive
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Primary Audience:
Suspense Thriller Romance Horror Drama Remake
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 1, 2010 (wide—2,000+ theaters)
DVD: February 1, 2011
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Overture Films

ETERNAL LIFE—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

eternal death in the Bible


sin and the fall of man


final judgment



VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

Christian living

What is goodness?

FEAR and anxiety—What does the Bible say? Answer

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer

What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer

Featuring: Chloe Moretz (Abby), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Owen), Richard Jenkins (The Father), Elias Koteas (The Policeman), Sasha Barrese (Virginia), more »
Director: Matt Reeves—“Cloverfield
Producer: EFTI (Sweden), Hammer Film Productions (England), Overture Films, more »
Distributor: Overture Films

“Innocence dies. Abby doesn’t.”

If Ingmar Bergman made a vampire flick, it might have been the 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In” (“Lat den ratte komma in”). Besides being set in the Swedish auteur’s homeland, the film deals with the similar themes of love, death and the nature of evil in the world.

The film was actually helmed by Swedish filmmaker Thomas Alfredson.

Like a Bergman film “Let the Right One In” kinda floats around the points of a story rather than having a solid linear structure. This is one of the key differences between foreign films and more narrative driven American films. In the horror genre, the differences are akin to the difference between Jazz and Rock. American horror has a definite rhythm, which, in musical terms, goes one, two, three… scare; one, two, three… shock. While foreign films tend to rely on atmospheric tension and somber tones.

When American directors try to remake foreign horror films, something often gets lost in translation, and you get an amalgamated creature that doesn’t function in either world (for a good example of a poor remake of a brilliant foreign film watch the Netherlands/French version of “The Vanishing”—1988, then try to sit through the 1993 remake with Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock—surprisingly the remake was directed by the same director, but produced by American studios). So when director Matt (“Cloverfield”) Reeves stepped up to direct the remake of the international hit film, precedent was not on his side.

Let me first satiate the curiosities of those who saw the original Swedish film, this remake is very much like the original, and those who liked the original will not be disappointed by this rendition. There are a few minor changes, but, for the most part, the story of a solitary and awkward boy becoming befriended by the new girl in town who ends up being a vampire is the same.

The first change is the story’s locale. Though the location for “Let Me In” looks remarkably similar to the Stockholm setting, it is actually thousands of miles away in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Secondly, the two leads have had their names changed from Oskar and Eli to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee—“The Road”) and Abby (Chloe Moretz—“500 Days of Summer” and “Hit Girl” from “Kick-Ass”). For the sake of this review, I will be referring to the characters as Owen and Abby, however since the story is 95% spot-on with the original, most of the comments can easily pertain to Oskar and Eli, as well.

The story is about a young, picked-upon adolescent boy named Owen who lives with his mother who is in the midst of a divorce and a losing battle with alcohol. Owen pretty much stays to himself, and one evening while playing in the snow of the courtyard is approached by the new girl, Abby. Owen quickly finds out one of Abby’s interests is puzzles and offers to let her solve his Rubik’s Cube. Later, when he desires to become a life-long friend of hers and cuts his finger to form a pact in blood, he discovers her other interest, or more like craving, the taste for human blood.

Owen is the target of teasing and beatings by a group of his school peers who constantly berate him by referring to him as a girl and viciously threatening him. With his mother caught up in a custody battle with Owen’s father, Owen confides his troubles to Abby who advises him to “hit them back harder than they hit you.”

While Owen and Abby are bonding, there appears to be a pattern forming in a series of mysterious disappearances in this small, Southwestern community.

The story is far richer and the relationship between Owen and Abby is much deeper than your standard variety vampire story (and they are abundant these days). Though this remake definitely plays upon the horror aspects, the original was marketed as a “romantic vampire” film, and the innocent affection the two share takes the film a step above your generic vampire flick. I would say this is one of the areas that makes the remake better than the original. Both Smit-McPhee and Moretz demonstrate a competence in their roles that defies their young ages. Moretz is a talent to watch and is emerging as a young actress that can easily become the next Dakota Fanning or Jodie Foster.

The themes of the film are a bit deeper than your generic vampire film, as well. There is a real spiritual tone to this movie, and the question of the nature of evil permeates throughout the story. The film takes place in 1983, and, in a scene which serves as the film’s jump off point, a TV is broadcasting a speech given by former President Ronald Reagan who is talking about the existence of “real evil” in the world. Later, Owen is at home, and the TV is on and turned to a station where a televangelist talks about “spiritual evil.” Evil and temptation become prevalent themes, as Owen finds out more than he desires about Abby’s identity.

Objectionable Material

The film is rated “R” and lives up to its rating, as it is definitely not intended for children. Though there is a clear spiritual underlying theme to the film, the subject matter of vampirism will no doubt offend many Christian viewers. There are a handful of profane words including more than a dozen F-words and at least a dozen utterances of the Lord’s name in vain (“Jesus Christ”—5, “Jesus”—2, “God”—2, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”—2, plus “G*d d*mn” and “Oh my G*d”). A woman’s breast is exposed during a brief love scene that Owen voyeuristically oversees from his bedroom window. Abby strips naked in Owen’s bedroom (not explicitly shown), and then gets under the covers with him. Apparently, nothing physical happens between them. In another scene, bloody Abby kisses Owen on the lips after murdering another person, leaving blood on Owen’s mouth.

Just as one would expect in any modern horror/vampire flick, there is a pretty substantial amount of gruesomeness and violence.

Violence: There is a scene of a man being hung upside down and having his throat slit in order to be eviscerated, a scene where a man pours acid on his face and the after effects of this act, multiple scenes of throats getting bitten, cut and ripped open; physical attacks of a horrific nature and the aftermath of a man jumping to his death from a ten story window. Those who saw the original will no doubt remember the pool scene. The scene remains intact in the remake and contains more appendages being removed from bodies than the original.

There is an element in the original film that dealt with the androgynous nature of Eli. In that film, there is a famous, and to some shocking, scene which deals with the character’s gender (or lack there of). In this film, that element is only hinted at in an elusive reference that Abby makes about her gender that never really comes up again.

As far as production quality, there is a lot this stylistic remake has to offer, starting with the dynamic performances of the leads. The snow-covered terrain of New Mexico is pleasantly cinematic, when not saturated in blood. As mentioned, fans of the original will find much familiar territory in the remake, however, in some instances, the remake fills in some holes that were left open in the first film.

“Let Me In” is a film solely for fans of this type of film. Though the adolescent affection that Owen and Abby share for one another would rival that of Edward and Bella, this is definitely not “Twilight.” Audience members that are easily upset with scenes of violence and gore should definitely avoid this, and this film should definitely be avoided by children and younger teens. However, if this type of film is more to your fancy, and particularly if you enjoyed the original this remake and the performances of its young actors will definitely not disappoint.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I would agree that after being bombarded with the Twilight movies for so long, and no other alternative “Let me in” was welcome relief. I personally enjoyed the movie for many reasons, and it’s rare to see a vampire movie with characters that you really care about and like to watch as their relationship develops.

Not to give much away, I’ll just say that it is well written, with great picks in actors. More a suspense then Horror movie, with most emphasis on the forming friendship between Owen and Abby rather then on the blood and gore. This isn’t your typical, predictable story.

Objectionable content: Anyone who knows about these moves already knows there will be blood. However, in “Let me in,” overall, there wasn’t much compared to others of the genre. The reviewer basically outlines the objectionable content, so I would just add that if you’re a fan of this genre, this is a rare example of a good story, and is worth watching. Christians should know what to expect before heading to the theatre, so if you are hesitant after reading the review, then you should probably not see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andrew, age 28 (USA)
Positive—Three reasons you might like this movie: 1) Vampire stuff, the way they were intended: animal-like, (human) blood-thirsty undead creatures and not too fond of Vitamin D. In the age of all things “Twilight”, this is a welcome break from the peace-loving hippies of Stephanie Meyer’s world.

2) The girl, in spite of using her love interests for her own dirty work, genuinely cares about her guys. Instead of being one-dimensional (Feed Me! OR else…), she actually reciprocates. She’s fiercely protective and remarkably docile to those closest to her. In direct contrast with item 1, and yet not too soft to be a “Twilight” gimmick, this requited love is actually kind of endearing.

3) I need more opinions on the whole “faceless” mom. Reasons why people (to include christians) will denounce this film: 1) Vampires 2) Gore 3) The young actress plays an incredibly old being (i.e. a very seasoned adult). Like “Kick-***”, this is where Hollywood is pushing it. Putting younger and younger boys 'n girls in very grown-up situations, even if fictional.

This is a scary trend, and I readily agree with anyone else that voices a similar concern. But I challenge you. Consider what other comparable films you’ve seen, and then weigh the pros and cons. This is not a scary movie, but then again, a HORROR movie needn’t be. If something is horrifying or downright abysmal, then that fits the bill, e.g. “Fraility.” There’s a movie that turned my insides out. Scary it was but not on account of cheap jump scares or monsters lurking around every corner. Rather, 'twas the idea of dad turning your picture-perfect life upside down in a heartbeat—that’s truly terrifying. Same idea applies here. This young boy lived a stable, happy life. Then came the divorce, the bullies, and the desire to retaliate against something vulnerable.

In walks in an unsuspecting entity with a tremendous set of burdens to share, and the boy’s future is flushed down the toilet in an instant. Instead of having a loving dad and mom to usher him into manhood, the boy is thrown into a vicious cycle of mutual dependence, time, and presumably a fair-sized laundry list of other young suitors, all having had to shoulder too much too soon. This is what the movie suggests, and it’s sad. What sort of thankless, unscrupulous existence is that? To be rushed into an impromptu marriage at such a young age literally 'til death do you part. To always be on the run, to be routinely killing? A scary yet sad thought indeed.

That’s what makes “Let Me In” a horror film. It’s different; it’s certainly less black 'n white than the industry’s standard for the genre, and for that, I dig it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Positive—…LET ME IN is one of the most beautiful films of the year, and probably THE best remake that I have ever seen. LET ME IN is based on the Swedish film, “Let the Right One In,” which was released two years ago to monumental acclaim from both critics and art-house audiences alike. This touching story, concerning a young man’s crush on a 12 year old vampire named Eli, captured the hearts and minds of everyone who was lucky enough to see it. If Ingmar Bergman were to direct a vampire-themed film, it would look a lot like this. However, one should not think of the film as yet another entry into the recent “vampire” craze. It is much more than that.

This is the film that Twilight only wishes that it could be. The remake deviates structurally from the original, only in that the opening is a bit different, and a few minor characters have been altered or dropped altogether. The integrity of the storytelling remains intact, and as a result, much of the remake resembles the original in all of it’s snow-drenched glory.

Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Owen, a lonely young man who is constantly bullied at school in the most brutal fashion. He spends his evenings at home playing with knives, and spying on the attractive neighbor next door. He also has an almost addictive fondness for Now and Laters, and constantly eats the candy throughout the film. Chloe Moretz plays Abby, the young girl who moves in next door with her “dad”. The two meet on the playground one night, and bond over a Rubick’s Cube. Soon, Owen develops a crush on his new friend, oblivious that Abby is really a vampire, and that her “dad” is merely a serial killer, who creeps out into the night, stalking and killing random victims in order to bring buckets of blood back to Abby, so that she can survive.

Meanwhile, an older cop is on the case, trying to figure out who the mysterious killer is, as the bodies continue to surface. The bullying continues, however Owen realizes that he can stand up for himself, in one of the film’s most shocking sequences. It doesn’t take long for Owen to realize who and what Abby really is. In all of his fright and confusion, he decides to stay by her side…and as a result, Abby vows to protect Owen in the only way that she knows how.

As I said, it is one of the best films of the year. Both of the leads deserve Oscar nominations for their layered performances. The score is beautiful, although there are moments in the film that could do without a background score. This is my only criticism of this otherwise perfect film. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) has crafted a worthy tribute with LET ME IN. The box office numbers have not been kind to LET ME IN. See it before it’s gone!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 28 (USA)
Neutral—As one of the elders in our church, I am compelled to use this movie as a tool to be used as a source of moral lessons. I learned about the original movie “Let the Right One In” as I chanced upon the trailer online and was intrigued by the originality of the script—this was a year ago. A few days before the 2010 remake came out, I did a lot of research about the film(s) trying to connect the dots, and it later became a fascination. Somehow, before watching “Let Me In” 2 days ago with my wife; I already had the dots connected of how the story would progress, so I wasn’t really surprised. I would like to share my observations and hope that it would be constructive to everyone who would read it: ***MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS AHEAD***

1. Divorce in the U.S. is getting from bad to worse, it is the major source of increasing dysfunctional families here. People should not wonder why the moral values have deteriorated, I do believe that 49.7 divorce rate is one (2005 survey), if not the main source. Matthew 19:8 states that divorce is only feasible if the other person committed adultery, sexual immorality during marriage. Everywhere, people file for divorce like returning merchandise to the store. We learn this influenced Owen to look for affection somewhere else and ended up with Abby. She had numerous opportunities to kill Owen but decided not to. Was it affection or self-preservation?

2. The devil can masquerade himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). It wasn’t clear if Abby truly had legitimate affection with Owen or did she see him as the next slave to be. Did she just preserve him to replace an aging servant? The devil doesn’t really care once his needs are met. It is survival over emotion all the more if you cannot “produce” the goods. Besides divorce, we see Owen getting bullied in school—he needs someone who can protect him. His parents should be there but no, they were not.

3. Abby asked Owen the question, “would you still like me if I wasn’t a girl.” I am not sure if demons do not have genders but clearly, this statement sounds demonic. The devil prowls like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

4. I have trouble watching pre-teens saying the “F” word even if we know it’s just a film. Chances are they practice it in real life and this is a fact with most young people today. Seeing adults don’t bother me but kids practicing it indicate that there is something wrong with our culture. Does this explain why the United States is nowhere to be found in the end times? One reviewer on “Kick-A**” where Chloe Moretz also starred, she said it didn’t bother her with the foul language and all and this is to be expected. How can a Christian not be bothered by a pre-teen saying the F-word—common!

5. If you choose to serve evil, there is no happy ending. Somehow, before seeing the film I have a pretty good gut feel of what Abby’s “father” was and how he got there. The movie confirmed this and it was a sad ending for anyone who chooses evil over what God has to offer.

6. There was a little light in the film wherein Owen’s mom appeared to be Christian as they always prayed before every meal. It sure was sad for her to lose her only son because of bitter divorce.

7. Sometimes, the real monsters in the world are those who appear gentle. My mom used to tell me, “son, if a person is surprisingly nice to you then you have to be twice as careful.” The devil knows man’s vulnerability and will explore every inch of it to his advantage—classic example “Garden of Eden.” God can turn something bad to something good and it is my intention to do likewise.

The 2010 remake was nicely done and the actors protrayed their characters well but the movie was not without holes. I asked myself, how can there only be 1 police officer in the entire movie? One man witnessed his girlfriend was attached by a vampire, he didn’t have the urgency to report it. In the end, it seems that the cycle will just continue with Abby. There will always be a deceiver and the one being deceived, how many more Owens in the world will turn up?

I am planning to see the original version in a few days. I recommend this film only to adults, I think it is a tragice movice—neither horror or romantic one. --Maranatha!--
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Tades Jacob, age 42 (USA)
Neutral—In my lifetime, I have seen many films. Some were really good, some ok, and there have been some that I shouldn’t have seen. But none have left me with such a disturbing feeling as this did. It’s been about two months now, since I saw this, and, I kid you not when I say that, I came out of the theatre feeling like I had been whopped in the head. And the feeling has stayed with me since then. Such to the point, where I have literally spent more time in the Word and in prayer than I ever have in my life. What was it that I found so disturbing? After thinking it through, the main thing was that I identified to some extent with the Owen character.

As a matter of a fact, I was that age in early '83. I was bullied, I was lonely, I had no self-esteem. My parents hadn’t divorced yet, but they might as well had been. My father traveled all the time, and left mom to raise me and my sister, and she was an emotional wreck most of the time back then. The difference for me though, was that I had a church family, youth group, and pastor that kept me from going all the way into the darkness, something that I’ve learned to be thankful for over the years. Owen didn’t have that unfortunately and it’s disturbing that he got to the point to where he thought that Abby, although an embodiment of evil, could be the only thing that cared about him. But what’s even more disturbing. Despite the conflict that existed within Owen, he still had some sense of a conscience.

After he discovers what Abby is, he actually tries to seek help in calling his father for advice. For most of my life, I heard different pastors refer to Mark 9:42, where Christ talks about “causing one of these little ones to sin.” I never really knew what that meant until now. Instead of trying to help his son, or trying to find someone that could, Owen’s father just tosses him aside, leaving him to figure it out on his own. From this, I was encouraged: if a child/young person ever comes to me and asks me about evil, I will do my best to help them—and if I can’t—I will find them someone who can.

I hope any adult Christian reading this will do the same. Although I don’t think this was ever the director’s intent, this film did encourage me to start taking my faith and convictions seriously, in the fact that there really is evil in the world.

There is no such thing as vampires, but there is such a thing as demons (essentially a vampire is the humanization of a demon), and they can take many forms: drugs, alcoholism, bad relationships… things that seem like a good thing at the start—the list is long. Should you see this film? Well… that has to be up to you. I guess the question would be—what does Christ and your convictions say?

Me personally, I don’t think I could see it again, given the way I felt after the first time. There is a good chance that other Christians will see it and be so disturbed by what they see that they’ll draw closer to Christ as a result. Maybe.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Will Crissman, age 41 (USA)
Negative—I felt compelled to write this short review, simply because of my dislike of this remake compared to the Swedish film “Let the Right One In.” The actors give great performances, and the film is well made, but the message was completely perverted from the original.

How was the message so changed? By making the female lead into a deceiver as opposed to the more innocent character from the original film.

***SMALL SPOILERS BELOW*** In the original, the girl’s caretaker’s past was never revealed. Although that made me a bit uneasy and question whether she was simply looking for a replacement, the film itself never authoritatively gave an answer.

Personally, I like to think that the caretaker of the original film was probably the same as the source material, in which case he was not one of a line of guys this girl groomed to be her helper. But in the American version, the caretaker became a past relationship she nurtured until eventually he was discarded and replaced. This completely changed the innocent relationship between the two children and left the film with a 'doomed' epilogue. The innocent “girl” from the original film, acting on feelings deeply felt, has now become a shallow deceiver, who apparently preys upon the vulnerable.

No wonder a pastor likes to use this film as a teaching tool on the seduction of evil. Furthermore, unlike in the original, the American version didn’t have the scene where the girl makes it clear she is simply trying to survive and kills because she has to.

Overall, I was severely disappointed with this remake. No doubt the film was well made, but that alone isn’t a reason to see “Let Me In.” Especially when you can watch the far superior original.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Jed, age 32 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—I wish I never watched it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Simone, age 17 (USA)