Sunday, 17 October 2010

Review for 'Let Me In'

So I went to a special screening of Matt Reeve’s latest film Let Me In at the BFI Film Festival yesterday and have come back a different person.

To start with I reviewed Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In last year when it came out and it was definitely one of the best films of the year, if not the best. So when I and every other fan heard that good ol’ Hollywood were going to get their greasy paws on it for the audiences who can’t read subtitles, we were not happy. I also have read the John Ajvide Lindqvist book, so I am in somewhat a good position to judge this movie.

For those who don’t know the story, it centres on newly named Owen and Abby. Set in the snow covered hills of Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1983; Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) a troubled youth who by night becomes a knife wielding peeping tom but by day is bullied and humiliated by school bully Kenny (Dylan Minnette) on a daily basis. Owen’s only friend is his single fundamentalist Christian mother until a mysterious girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz) moves in next door. After a few rocky moments it only takes a Rubix Cube to begin their deep friendship. However, Abby isn’t all that she seems to be, whilst she acts like a sweet girl there’s something that lies beneath the surface. This brilliant coming of age story is heightened by the horror at which at times can make the true horror fan jump.

Whilst the film is a remake, it is surprisingly interesting. Remakes have a bad name which is only their own faults, and whilst this can’t hold a light to its original counterpart Reeve’s has done a respectable job. The several differences in motivations and character archetypes than Let the Right One In had given the fans of the original enough to come back for seconds. Whilst the film can stand on its own, it is not without its flaws and the biggest one is its script written by Reeves. In true American fashion the pacing never slows down and keeps going on and on, and whilst this doesn’t sound like a bad thing it is a complete change of pace from the first film. The original was slow to show how mundane Oskar’s life is and the progression in time; with Let Me In it feels like this is happening within a week. Reeve has also fiddled about with all of the character’s names, which is strange to say the least. But the most disturbing change is the fact that two characters now wear masks which is a surprising turn which attempts to make the film something of a slasher movie. One of them looks like Leather Face which the other looks like a bin man with a rubbish bag over his face.

Whilst some characters roles have been dramatically diluted, for example the character of Virginia (Sasha Barrese), other characters have stolen scenes in a fairly convoluted what, i.e. the detective (Elias Koteas). Whilst some may see this as a bad thing, it is more apparent that Reeve’s wanted to focus on the relationship of seemingly innocent Owen and Abby.

Then you come to the awkward acting. Surprisingly Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz do a somewhat disappointing portrayal of the two lead characters as they try to mimic the relationship of Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson’s Oskar and Eli. This leaves their relationship stale and forced and is a problem in some scenes. Then there is Richard Jenkins who is a normally a capable actor, however is questionable when playing Hakan, now simply named the ‘Father’, who ambles around the film swearing and being a moody old man who we do not sympathies with.

Produced by the revitalised studios Hammer Films who are known for such vampire classics as Brides of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972 and Vampire Circus this is by no means a flop. The Cloverfield director has made an artistic and interesting view on the book which will not disappointing any true vampire fans. Abby can proudly stand among the likes of Christopher Lee’s Dracula. This incarnation of adaption is also far more explicit and will please those who have a strong blood lust. I recommend buying Tomas Alfredson’s original Let the Right One In, however Let Me In is not such a disgrace, and is probably one of the better films emerging around Halloween.

Anticipation - 2
Enjoyment - 3
Retrospect - 3

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