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

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