Saturday, 13 November 2010



It's remake time again! Here we go, taking yet another much-loved classic for our times and trashing it and stripping it of all its magic, diluting its power, casting the wrong people and generally murdering it in its bed and defecating on it from a great height, because that's what appeals to "dimbo multiplex livestock" (to borrow a Charlie Brooker phrase), and all that the thicko audience demographic can mentally cope with. Erm, except that no, they haven't. Surprisingly, they've actually done a pretty good job with this reworking of the 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In. Is this new version better? Probably not, but it's not the unholy desecration it might have been.

Given the existence of the original, it's true that we probably didn't need Let Me In. But they've done it anyway and it does follow, pretty faithfully, the story of the original: a lonely bullied kid meets and forms a fragile friendship with a lonely vampire kid; the latter's guardian goes out and kills for blood to keep the vampire alive, but he's human and getting too old, while the vampire, being permanently twelve, isn't able to survive alone. And nor is the human kid, really: bullied and tormented at school in genuinely life-threatening ways and unable to stand up to his persecutors. The two do need each other.

Certainly some of the narrative structure has been changed around, bringing the police into the story; and the most notable change is not the relocation to Los Alamos, New Mexico, but the switch of genders of the child vampire from male to female. Cynics might accuse Matt Reeves of selling out the story's soul for the sake of Middle American cretins who presumably wouldn't touch a movie about the relationship between two young boys, although given that they're twelve there couldn't be any sexual relationship between them so it really wouldn't matter what the genders were. It is about friendship more than anything else and I still think the vampirism is incidental to that core.

As a film, it's actually quite well done - well acted and very well shot. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous; it's one of the best photographed films I've sene this year. On the downside, I think there's too much in the way of musical score and several scenes could have done with playing in silence. Weirdly, it feels as though Reeves doesn't have enough faith in the material and the performaces to trust them to play without the orchestral backing; the result is that it feels needlessly overscored. (Reeves' previous film was Cloverfield, for which Michael Giacchino only got to write about eight minutes of end title music; maybe they're making up for it here but I think to the film's detriment.) And maybe the CGI is a bit dodgy in places but not disastrously so.

The other thing that should be noted is the opening caption: A Hammer Production. Let Me In has been touted as the Rebirth Of Hammer Films: firstly it isn't any such thing (that would be the worthless Beyond The Rave), and secondly it's only A Hammer Film in that it's been co-produced by a company called Hammer. It's not a Hammer film in any cultural sense, and it doesn't have the spirit of Hammer - for one thing, it has no British content, character, style or creative input; it's entirely an American studio film from an American writer-director, set and shot in the USA (remaking a Swedish film adapted from a Swedish book).

But it is certainly worth seeing, both as an effective and occasionally touching horror film in its own right and as a respectful remake of a critically aclaimed film. It's definitely not the grave-robbing sacrilege many feared; it's not in the same league of dishonour as The Wicker Man, for example. Go with an open mind and you should be pleasantly surprised.



Anonymous said...

Good review. I liked it a bit less than you did, but I thin we are on the same page.

Digitalli said...

Ok, shoot me if I have a bizarre pre-re-make Swedish copy, but in my Swedish version it was a young girl vampire too, not a boy. Have been dubious about watching this as I love the original, but feeling friendlier towards it now. Thanks