One thing about Let Me In (Overture, opening today) that’s getting through to moviegoers who read movie blogs or reviews is that it’s only superficially a “horror film.” The horror genre belongs to the wallowers and the animals and the Eli Roth-fiends, and this is a film that some genre fans are going to feel confused by. Why aren’t there more boo scares? Why isn’t there more of a sense of an accelerating nightmare? Why do the characters speak so softly to each other?
Let Me In is too good, too classic-minded, too well acted, too sensitive and too gradually paced to qualify as a “horror film,” or at least what that term tends to mean in the minds of most moviegoers. It uses the trappings of horror — vampires, drinking of blood, killings, ominous atmospheres — but it’s about love and loneliness and the needing of emotional comfort by children (okay, tweeners) whose families have fallen away and failed to provide.
Please take note of this, Academy members. There hasn’t been a “horror film” nominated for Best Picture since The Exorcist (forget the feminist-minded psychological FBI thriller The Silence of the Lambs), but the time has come to go back to this dark well and let a horror film “in” by nominating it for Best Picture. You can refuse to consider this film because it adheres to conventions of what you regard as a disgraced genre, but you really, really shouldn’t do this. Not this time.
Boiled down, Let Me In is a highly unusual and deeply affecting young-love story. It’s been made with restraint, sensitivity and high levels of intelligence. Please open your minds and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Director Matt Reeves has created a distinguished exception to the rule.