Monday, February 28, 2011

Let Me In (2010)

Let Me In (2010)

My Synopsis: Wimpy human boy meets tough vampire girl who turns him into a man. The movie ‘Twilight’ should have been; dark, disturbing, and with more blood.

If you listen to the Creepercast ( most of last year you would have heard me raving about the fact this movie was made in the state I now reside. You also would have heard me gush about my love for the Swedish original 'Let the Right One In' (2008) and express concerns about an American remake. Mostly I questioned why it was the needed. The original is brilliant in every way, all it could possible be lacking for the American audience is to be in their language and maybe an over abundance of blood and gore. To its credit, the original's DVD release does contain an English overdub track to make it sound more pleasing to he average American's ears. Personally I found it annoying and reminiscent of the old Japanese martial arts movies in which overdub adds a level of humor that is befitting of the films content. That is to say, over the top and unintentionally comedic fight scenes purely for the sake of having said scenes. Therefore I was more than happy to read subtitles in favor of watching this melodrama without thinking of Bruce Lee. Yet I digress as usual, the point is that my expectations of the remake were 50/50. I really wanted it to be spectacular but was apprehensive as to whether it could be any better or would even do the original justice.

Guess I should explain, I am a firm believer that remakes (for the person who has seen the original - there's a reason I make this distinction) should both stay true to the original while adding something (new interpretation, cinematically, characterization, etc) that in some way makes it better than or adds too the original. Take 'Dawn of the Dead' for instance... The remake ramped up the blood and gore, added smarter harder to kill zombies, expanded the characters individual plot lines, and took some major cinematic strides. Though I don't feel it replaces the original it undoubtedly made the story better and added much to the mythos it created. When educating a friend on zombie movies last year it's the first one we showed her before going back to 'Night of the Living Dead' for origination. I didn't go into 'Dawn' for a discussion on zombies though. It was just an example of what people who watch originals come to expect from remakes.

Now back to 'Let Me In,' the child actors were dead on, the movie was almost shot for shot the same only the English dialog matched their lips. In fact, with the notable exception of more blood, a more frantic pacing (as opposed to the deliberately slow build interrupted by scenes of unrest) at least one rearranged scene and several small omissions (I say small when actually they seemed integral to the boy/girl relationship that was blossoming although never to be, and I don't think the relationship between the girl and the old man was really understandable) this would almost be the same exact movie. So, no real addition to the original.

As to the Americanization of the story, it was filmed and takes place in Los Lunas, New Mexico (a fact I constantly raved about) during winter; whereas the original was obviously in a Swiss winter wonderland. The main operative theme deals with isolation. The boy is ostracized by his peers, pretty much ignored by mother, his father is absent, and he lives in place locked into ice most of the time. This is an important dynamic to character that I feel loses potency. First, the average snow fall for Los Lunas, N.M. is about 6 inches from December to March with the highest recorded month of February getting near 14 inches, which is a lot for New Mexico, but hardly constitutes an arctic isolation. Maybe these statistics only matter to me because I live here. Even so, the isolation factor is severely limited. Although I do give the cinematographers props for making it look like an artic wasteland, it isn’t really. And since I mentioned the absentee father in this paragraph I will address it here as well. In the original the father makes an appearance and we discover that he is probably gay, on the same token his mother is a religious zealot. Very important elements that molded this boys character that are absent from the remake.

Now I made a distinction earlier between those who have the original and those who have not. Here’s why… for those who haven’t seen the original, or despise subtitles and don’t want to be distracted by comedic overdub, this is a fantastic movie. Chloe Moretz is more than able to be convincing as the girl vampire and Kodi Smitz-McPhee is an exact duplicate to the troubled outcast boy. Like I mentioned before, it is almost an exact replica to the original in many of the ways that matter. The 80’s time period becomes a even more integral backdrop and the relationship between the two actors is amazing chemistry. This is the movie that ‘Twilight’ should have been, troubled adolescence and a volatile relationship developing between a vampire and a human. We have a real stereotypical vampire and a real stereotypical troubled boy (who could have easily become Dexter if the right conditions were met). Also we have Richard Jenkins as the vampire companion. He’s a perfect duplicate to the original even though the story seems quiet vague as to what his involvement with the girl really is; while the original is pretty obvious.

In all, if you haven’t seen the original, and have to see it as a Hollywood movie that meets the conditions I mentioned earlier (no subs or bad overdub) than it is a must see. But if you want a better understanding of the story that the film is presenting, and are a purist in anyway, this remake has nothing for you. In fact it is cheating you of some integral story points, fantastic acting and exact re-enactments aside.

Notice I didn’t really tell you much about the story. That’s because the summary pretty much fills you in and what I left out is important to be witnessed oneself. As I mentioned before, my expectations were 50/50 on this movie and it delivered. That being the case I can not outwardly condone it because, like I said, if you cant stand the presentation of the original but still want a worthwhile vampire movie then I am all for it. The closest thing I could compare it to is ‘Twilight’ and as far as a worthy addition to the Vampire mythos I am going to back up ‘Let Me In.’ But if I were to choose between the two versions on merit and worth I’m a purist. That being the case, I will leave it up to you to decide which you’d rather see but strongly suggest if you watch the remake and like it, give the original a shot. There’s so much more to the story than the remake can give you.

Farewell from the beasts and I,

Please purchase this or any other movie I have mentioned via the Creepercast amazon link. This one can be found at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

My synopsis: The guy from Supernatural faces off against a murderous miner, twice! Only to find they are intimately connected (cue dramatic music)!

So, not wanting to buy into the hype this last Valentines Day, Sara and I decided to stay in. I made an (dare I say) awesome spaghetti dinner and using my usual sick sense of humor decided it was finally time to watch the remake of another one of those 80's reboots of slasher films that didn't need it. Yes, I have seen the original (1981) but it has been long enough that I pretty much forgot about what it was about. That is other than a crazy miner killing people on what just happened to be Valentines Day. No, I haven't watched it since seeing this remake. So I will be treating it as a work unto itself. That much said, as usual, my sense of morbidity once again ended in torture. But as I've said before, I do it all for you!

On a side note: am I the only one that is bugged by the fact it's called Valentines Day when it is actually Valentine's Day? It's a day that belongs to someone, not a day in which you receive anything, although Saint Valentine might have given himself to a lot of people. In the form we use it today I imagine it is actually a yearly get together in which the Valentine family gets together for a cook out, play horse shoes, an meet the significant others of cousins they remember as babies. But I digress, this is a movie review after all...

Ok, quick recent history, 2007 is when the great James Cameron and friends revitalized the amazing world of 3D video. Those who listen to the Creepercast ( already know my opinion on this 'rebirth' so I won't get into that now (I know, I know, this from the guy that spouted off about Valentine(')s Day) but just like following it's original conception the horror movie industry was quick to jump on that band wagon. Who wouldn't want to experience the 'real' action of a pick axe flying right at you! Absolutely, everyone! And that's what the makers of My Bloody Valentine was counting when they became one of the first to adapt the new 3D technology. Was this a good ploy? I can't say for sure since we saw it in normal TV D. But it was a fun game guessing where the 3D was. Maybe fun isn't the word, funny is more like it since it was pretty obvious and not very original. It did alleviate boredom though. I'm sure the original theater goers loved the campy-ness even though I don't think they meant it to be funny. That's also where this movie fails the most, it seems to take itself way to serious. Which, when it comes to 3D horror and as I've said before, is an oxymoron (see Piranha 3D (2010) for how it should be). But enough about 3D, this review is in normal D.

First I must admit my stupidity, when I initially saw the main character I thought it was Casper Van Dean. For anyone who knows who he is you understand why I immediately knew that the movie was going to take it self ridiculously serious (for those who don't know who he is I suggest watching Starship Troopers (1997) which brilliantly takes itself seriously, on purpose). I continued to believe it was him because the first ten minutes totally delivered on that expectation. Yes there was great pick axe dismemberments, although an impressive use of the weapon it was really bad effects. Yes, I did eventually realize it was the Supernatural guy, which only caused me to lament his involvement in the rest of the movie. Sadly, he is also the only actor of note, at least to me three days later. There were a few familiar faces. You know, whatshisname/hername that are in everything? Yeah, them.

Ok, let's see, I mentioned Valentine's Day, remake, 3D, and Casper. Whats next? Oh yeah!  The story!

Ever since Halloween (1978) successfully built a franchise around a slasher attack that just happened to coincide with a holiday there has been unsuccessful copycats. Mostly because they work so hard to incorporate the holiday whereas Carpenter somehow managed to make it look like a happy accident. Even so, you'd think fully working the holiday in and a title like My Bloody Valentine would be brilliant! I mean just imagine the possibilities! But, this isn't really. 

As previously mentioned the premise is based on a miner that, while trapped in a cave, freaks out and brutally murders all his companions. We don't get to actually see this, since it is just back back story we get filled in on as the movie the starts. What we get to see is the miner attack and slaughter a bunch of teens that visit the mine some short time later before being shot by a cop that was chasing him.  Now I must admit I don't remember if either of the first attacks happened on Valentines Day, or how much time elapsed from cave freak out to teen slaughter. I do remember the teens being dismembered in interesting ways with a pick axe. It did dominate the first ten minutes which I'm sure contained at least three 3D scenes. Anyway, ten or so years later, somewhere around Valentines Day (we know this because there are Valentines) the only guy to survive the attack (Mr. Supernatural) returns home in the hopes of reuniting with the only girl to survive that use to be his girlfriend before he left. Alas, the rekindle is not meant to be since she has been married to the town Sherif (another guy they more or less grew up with but missed the slaughter). Also, unfortunate for the town and our survivors, the 'dead' freaked out miner has also returned to wreck havoc!

So now we have a Scream style slasher mystery! Complete with bloody Valentines! Now if the history of slasher movies has taught us anything its always to never suspect the obvious culprit and never rule out the least obvious. For those of you who may want to see this movie I won't ruin it, watching the writers try and weave their webs of deception is almost interesting (laughably). What I will say is in the last half hour of the movie they managed to throw a lot of information to confuse, lead, and deceive, only to meet original expectations. Damn, I might have spoiled it for you after all. But come on, the ending is in the title!

So how to rate this one... Well I give it credit for working the Valentines angle although I feel it gave us very little to go on, the love triangle was barely existent and therefor a waste of time. Also no points for making it feel like the holiday was a happy accident since I've already given points for intentionally working that angle (although badly). Giving one acting point for Supernatural guy branching out but taking away two for making me think he was Casper. Going to go five for pick axe killing taking two away for bad effects. Giving ten for campy but they lose seven for taking it too serious (I would have let them keep most of the points taken away if they would have let the camp flow). So that's something like a two out of five. So in final, I'd say if you are believer in the idea that Valentines Day is just another way for greeting card companies, expensive restaurants, jewelers, and florists to make money then spaghetti and this movie isn't a bad substitute. Otherwise maybe you should go to see any chick flick that might avoid you dealing with a bummed out partner. Luckily Sara is understanding about my masochism and enjoys to join in on occasion. At least that is what she let's me think. Best girlfriend ever! Oh, and I did get her a chocolate rose which she finally ate the other night. I have yet to eat the plant she got me, it's just too awesome!

Please purchase this or any other movie I have mentioned via the Creepercast amazon link. This one can be found at