Thursday, 31 March 2011

Let Me In (2010) - Matt Reeves

Americans and their remakes, they seem to just love 'em. It feels like every other week some film or other is being remodeled or is a sequel/prequel of some sort? Still just because something's a remake it doesn't automatically make it bad, does it? After all just look at The Maltese Falcon, or Hitchcock's retinkering of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much. Gems both. But what we're talking about here is more the American obsession with remaking already perfectly fine films, just because they have the nerve to not be in English. Bloody foreigners eh.

Anyway sometimes it works, The Ring for instance managed to convince that it deserved a life away from it's overseas sibling, as did Vanilla Sky to a lesser extent. More often than not though they fail horribly, especially horror flicks. Look at what happened to The Vanishing and Nightwatch, or the slew of Japanese horror remakes from the past decade. So what chance has this film got then?

The original Swedish film (Låt den rätte komma in) was an intricate and original take on the age old vampire yarn. It was just as much about the relationship between a 12 year old boy with the new girl in his building as it was about those pointy teeth types. If I'm honest I wasn't all that keen on the original the first time round, I blame the hype, since now I see it as a bit of a diamond. The biggest problem with Let Me In, is that it will always suffer comparisons with the better original film.

Reeves has kept pretty much everything from Låt den rätte komma in, although it now takes place in America (New Mexico to be exact), but he's kept the 80's setting, the basic story and even the pacing of the original. In fact very little is different, which does beggar the question why bother remaking it in the first place if you don't really have anything new to bring to to the table? We still have a young boy (Owen) from a typically Spielbergian broken home falling for the vampire girl next door (Abby). All the awkwardness that comes with puberty is present and correct, the bullying sub plot is still in there too, even if the local drunks (so memorable in the original), only have walk on part in this one.

The things that do work are lifted wholesale from Låt den rätte komma in, sometimes almost shot for shot - both the swimming pool and hospital sequences for instance. The acting is fine, and the whole thing looks lovely (much darker than the original), it just that it feels so bloody pointless. There are some nice touches, such as never really seeing Owen's mother properly, just glimpsing bits and pieces of her face, which neatly reflects his fractured home life. This might be the thought behind not having Owen's father as anything more than a voice on the end of the phone too. There's also a wonderful long take in this film that directing wise is far more showy than anything in the original. Reeves has also snuck in a few references to those other famous doomed lovers Romeo & Juliet throughout the film. Wink wink.

If you haven't seen the original then you'll find this an exceptionally good American horror film, it's easily one of the best non splatter types from the last ten years. If you've seen Låt den rätte komma in though, this will just feel like a decent photocopy. All well and good, just don't look to closely.

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