Let Me In: Meet The Next Bloody Brilliant Vampire Thriller

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Move over Bella and Edward, a whole new vampire franchise is about to take the country by storm. And for those who have been dying for a sneak peek: The red band trailer just launched today via facebook. Check it out here.

I love how we get just a glimpse of this little girl, scaling the tree. A fleeting vision of an image that is absolutely bizarre.

I saw even more of the new Hammer film, Let Me In, this past weekend at Comic-Con. It’s hard to think of any other movie that came into this year’s festival with more skeptics, or left with more new fans.

A brief overview of what took place Saturday, for those who may know nothing about the controversy. Back in 2008, vampire buffs around the globe started raving about a quiet little foreign vampire thriller called Let the Right One In. In America, the movie started to catch people’s attention when it won the Tribeca Film Festival. After all, it’s not every day that a genre film wins a mainstream film fest.

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What set this Swedish import apart was its young leads, and solemn veneer. This was a quiet, sad, dark story of children vampires, less about the thrill of the chase or the ecstasy of the kill but the isolation of knowing that you will never fit in – the pain of knowing that given your lifestyle, you will always be an outcast. Now combine that vampire loneliness with the consternation of a coming-of-age drama, of being a fanged teenager in search of identity and acceptance. As a young boy befriends a young girl/vampire, the emotions roil, and as the violent scenes of bloodletting play out in the shadows, the horror takes on a palpable sense of dread and despair. This is not a horror film that trades in shocks or jolts, but one that meditates on the true agony of living out a cursed existence.

Anyway, so when it was announced that an English-language remake would be made, more than a few of us fans wondered whether they would butcher the story’s tender sensibilities, in favor of something more overt, and typical. After all, Americans supposedly bore easily, yes? And when they announced director Matt Reeves, of Cloverfield fame, we wondered if that meant the stylized, gothic façade would be replaced with shaky-cam uber-realism.

How wrong we were.

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Reeves took to the stage Saturday, flanked by young stars Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), as well as Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), all jumping at the chance to prove the naysayers wrong. And also to prove that they had their own twist to bring to the material, their own spin to the story. They brought two extended clips with them, and I walked away not only convinced that they had upheld the spirit of the original, but that this is going to be one of the most compelling films of the year.

The second clip featured an extended attack sequence, in which caretaker Jenkins sets out to drain some blood for young Moretz. A creepy, impressively visual, almost silent sequence of Jenkins lying in wait in the back seat of a car for his unsuspecting victim, it not only was a departure from the source material, representing an entirely new scene, but incredibly suspenseful.

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It was the first clip, though, that sent shivers up my spine. Reeves said he wanted to show all of us at Comic-Con the quality of acting that he was getting out of his young leads. And if that was the goal, well, he nailed it. Sharing with all of us the scene in which Smit-McPhee finally lets his feelings for Moretz show through, all in a gas station as they shop for candy, the pathos and patience on display here can’t be faked. These are strong actors, breathing life into confused and emotionally ravaged characters, conveying more with their silent anxiety than with their words. And the silence is palpable, deafening, gripping. They have nailed the tone of the picture just right, all the while transporting the action to 1980s New Mexico and allowing Moretz to capture a slightly different spin on the character, seeing the young vampire as an insecure monster, as having less control over her own actions.

It was only eight or ten minutes of footage, but I walked away absolutely convinced. The makers of Let Me In get it. They have appreciated the same things about Let the Right One In that made us all fall in love in the first place. They’ve connected on the same level. And they are in the midst of finalizing a film that I think we’ll all be talking about a whole lot more come autumn.

I know the Avengers announcement was the talk of the town this past weekend, but personally, Let Me In was my highlight. (A clip from Let the Right One In below)

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