IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 116 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera
Owen is a timid boy who’s isolated at school and is repeatedly bullied. When looking out the window one morning, he spies Abby moving in with a much older man next door. As a series of murders begin in the area, Owen and Abby strike up a friendship, despite Abby actually being a vampire who needs to feed and the man accompanying her is a slave/ protector, known only as The Father, upon who she mostly relies on to provide her with blood. When The Father seems to make some mistakes, Owen gets closer to discovering Abby’s secret….
For no reason in particular, it took me a while to get to see Let The Right One In, in fact it wasn’t until about a year and a half after its release that I finally got to view it. I found a film entirely worthy of the great praise it was getting, both a touching coming of age story and the most interesting take on the vampire in a long long time. Therefore I was most disappointed to hear that bloody Hollywood had decided to remake it so soon after it had been released. Surely they would cock it up? Let The Right One In was a film of unique subtlety, of a very European kind, and of a kind that Hollywood is not usually good at doing. Matt Reeves set himself a huge task with adapting the film and trying to match it. Did he succeed? Well, with a surprising number of good reviews for a remake of a much liked non-English language film, and a lot of good word of mouth, I wasn’t really surprised to find that Let Me In is also a good movie, a film that does no disgrace to the original and in some ways works even better.
However, there’s a big downside. It’s almost the same bloody movie! I made the mistake of viewing the first film a couple of nights ago again and honestly it was almost a case of deja vu watching this one. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with a remake that stays close to it’s predecessor, but Let Me In is virtually a scene for scene copy. Some scenes are relocated or restructured, but some have almost exactly the same staging and even some of the same dialogue. No doubt it was thought this was the best thing to do, and this illustrates why remakes can’t really win – they’re criticised for being lazy and pointless if they stay too close to the original, but if they deviate too much folks say that it’s a travesty which insults the other film and may as well be called something else. Quite a few scenes in Let Me In are unsurprisingly not quite as good as their counterparts in Let The Right One In, but a few do actually improve upon them, such as a burning and a murder in a subway. I was led to believe that the remake totally avoided the low key tone and style of the original, but I wouldn’t say that’s the case. Yes, certain ‘horror ‘aspects are increased a little, such as Micheal Giacchino’s thumping score, but not really that much. Take for example the previously mentioned subway killing. Yes, you now see a very uncanny CG Abby jumping around on the victim’s neck, but the scene is brief and still done mostly in silhouette. And anyway, why is a more overt approach automatically considered inferior to a subtle approach? They’re both valid. There’s plenty about Let Me In that remains understated anyway.
Visually, Let Me In is a little more colourful, with great use of yellow and brown, and in terms of film grammar, Matt Reeves does undoubtedly differ from Thomas Alfredson. Alfredson films much of his movie in painterly master shots, with much emphasis on his character’s surroundings and slow camera movements. This has a distancing effect, with the film seeming almost as chilly as the snow in which most of the events take place, and as if we were witnessing a dark fairy tale being re-enacted. Reeves uses far more close-ups and point of view shots, drawing us into the story more, though unfortunately a few attack scenes do suffer from the horrid thing that is ‘shaky cam’. However, the overall approach helps ensure that the central relationship comes across as being more sentimental and almost romantic, despite the script being almost the same. I actually felt more emotionally involved with the tale as presented here even if it was more typically ‘Hollywood’. The only major noteworthy script differences though are the addition of a pointless cop character, a slight change in the role of The Father [which does work], and the total removal of a homosexual element, including a surprising discovery about the gender of one of the main characters, which I’m told is much more explicit in the original novel. It’s not really missed here, but did give an interesting dimension to the original movie.
If anyone reading this hasn’t actually seen Let The Right One In, then Let Me In is definitely worth a watch. I actually have a feeling that if you see the new film first, you stand a good chance of preferring it. It tells the same story just as well and, although maybe Kodi Smith-McPhee and Chloe Moritz aren’t quite as strong as their predecessors [strange after Moritz’s barnstorming turn in Kick Ass], generally any aspects that are not done as effectively are balanced by things that are or are better. It’s just that, as good as it is, I had a bit of a problem with it being as close to Let The Right One In as it was. I haven’t read the novel, but it seems like there are things unused in the first version which were almost crying out to be used in the second version and would have made it more of its own film.
[pt-filmtitle]Let Me In[/pt-filmtitle]