Most of the time, I go to the movies alone. I like it that way. However, when I go with friends, I often end up seeing something I would not have normally seen, usually ‘horror’. Last time around the boyfriend picked The Last Exorcism. We both hated it (but it bought me rights to pick all of our movies through the end of the year). This time around, one of my girlfriends and I saw Let Me In. I was pleasantly surprised.
Let Me In is a variation of the classic tale – Boy meets girl. Boy lose girl. Boy gets girl back. This time around, it’s boy meets girl, then boy finds out girl is a violent blood-sucking vampire and finally boy deals with the consequences. The boy in question is 12-year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). He’s introverted and painfully shy. His parents are divorcing and he’s also the victim of a pack of merciless bullies at school. He could really use a friend.
When Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), another 12-year old and her ‘father’ (Richard Jenkins) move into to Owen’s depressing apartment complex, he finds a friend, despite her insistence when they first meet that they can’t be friends. Yet, their friendship and even love blossoms. When the truth of who Abby really is is revealed, Owen has to do more thinking than most boys his age, thinking about the nature of evil and of love.
Let Me In is set in northern New Mexico in 1983. So Owen and Abby don’t live in a world of desensitized video violence or in the Twilight/Harry Potter era of romanticized vampires and dark arts. This doesn’t mean that Owen isn’t familiar with vampire lore. Of course he is but it would have been a different film had it had a modern setting.
As it is, Let Me In manages to be both sweet and unsettling and at times downright scary. Abby gives Owen the friend he desperately needs and the strength to stand up for himself. He gives her the safety and acceptance to be exactly who she is, in all of its gory excess. But even stories of young love work best when there is a triangle. Richard Jenkins is the man that loves Abby and takes on the grim task of getting her the blood she needs. It’s a horrific job but one he’s gladly done for her over the years. He rightly sees Owen as a threat. A tender scene between Abby and Jenkin’s character hint at the nature of their relationship and it did sort of creep me out.
However, Let Me In is a tale of love and acceptance interspersed with moments of true horror and violence. As it ended, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness at what was inevitably to come.