Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let Me In

Let Me In

Let Me In
Poster for Let Me In

This weekend I gave in and saw Let Me In, the American remake of Let the Right One In. Let the Right One In is probably one of the best horror films in the last ten years. The idea of a remake just did not sit well with me and I had mixed emotions about seeing this film.

Anyone who has talked to me about movies for any length of time knows how I feel about remakes. To clarify, remakes are never necessary, there are plenty of original projects that never get made, or never get funded. Art and creativity take second place to profits. That said I have to admit there have been some good remakes, some like John Carpenter’s The Thing are arguably better than the original. Let Me In while not a horrible film does not manage to surpass the original. It actually came close to being a great film but was hindered by some major flaws.

One thing I have to credit director Matt Reeves with is that he didn’t Americanize it too much. In fact I think this actually may have hurt the film at the box office. The trailers and previews made this appear to be your standard American horror film. Likewise I think many upon hearing it was a vampire love story expected the sparkly emo vampires of Twilight. Instead Reeves gave us a bloody, disturbing tale very similar to the original.

Let Me In does simplify the relationship between Abby and her human protector. At first this bothered me as the relationship between Hakan and Eli was much darker and disturbing, and most of it was left up to the viewers own imagination. Those who have read the book know the true relationship, but it is never revealed in the film.

Let Me In takes a simpler approach and through a few subtle hints establishes a relationship that Abby’s guardian was once her boyfriend. At first this didn’t sit well but after viewing the entire film, I actually like this decision. It makes Abby a more tragic character, as well as adding a feeling of hopelessness to her relationship with Owen. Romeo and Juliet is referenced several times in the film and Anny and Owen truly are star crossed lovers with little hope for happiness.

I can’t find anything bad to say about the two lead actors. Both Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen and Chloe Moretz played their part well and made the roles their own. While it is impossible to watch Let Me In without comparing it to Let The Right One In, it I think it is a disservice to compare the actors too closely. The two young actors did a wonderful job and were probably the brightest thing about the film.

Probably the biggest, and honestly only real problem with the film was the CGI. I had been warned the CGI was bad but I was in no way prepared for how bad. Without the CGI, which was entirely unneeded, I would have easily rated this film four stars out of five. The effects were so bad, and in my opinion, so damaging to the film I can’t give it four and even three seems generous.

Why did the filmmakers feel it was necessary to turn Abby into a monster when she attacked? Wouldn’t it have been even more disturbing to see the innocent looking child viciously attacking a victim? While we do need to see her as a bloodthirsty killer, I think it would have been more powerful and better for the story to have seen her still looking mostly human during the attacks.

The other CGI that I noticed was in the hospital fire scene. While I can’t attack them for using CGI in this instance instead of setting someone on fire, I can attack them for using such obviously fake CGI. This is the 21st century, if your effects team can’t visually trick me into believing a person is on fire, you need to hire a new team.

Other than the CGI, I really thought Let Me In was a beautiful film. There were some other small things I wasn’t crazy about such as the length of the pool scene. I really liked the less violent version in Let The Right One In. The shock of seeing the aftermath was more than enough, all the extra carnage really wasn’t needed, but wasn’t a game killer.

The subject of Abby’s sexuality was avoided in Let Me In and I can only assume this was done so as not to offend American sensibilities. They did leave in several of the lines that allude to her true nature, but the one pivotal scene that reinforces the truth is left out. In all defense, the original only hints to it with the exception of the one “nude” scene.

So should you see Let Me In? My advice would be to only see it after you see Let The Right One In. While you might enjoy it better without having the original, you are doing yourself, and cinema, an injustice if you don’t see the original. Let The Right One In is truly one of the best “horror” films in recent years. I think it will go down as one of the top fifty horror films of all time. Run to the video shop to rent Let The Right One In and then stroll leisurely down to the theater and catch Let Me In. While it comes nowhere near the first film, it is still a decent attempt at a remake.

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