Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let Me In

Let Me In is a good movie. The problem is it's a remake of a great one. I don't have the poisonous hatred of remakes that a lot of film fans do, although I do sort of see it as a lack of creativity. Let Me In rarely steps outside the bounds set up by its Swedish counterpart, so what's its purpose for existing? Early box office returns suggest it's not going to end up making that much bigger of a dent in the American public than the original. If I saw it with fresh eyes, I might have been more impressed with it, but I was sort of comparing it to Let the Right One In the whole time, and I don't think most of the differences helped. Matt Reeves proved he can shoot a regular movie, and the cast was very good. Chloƫ Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee have already made impacts in other movies recently (which I need to see), and are pretty much a wash performance-wise with the original kids. Richard Jenkins is one of those great "that guy"s, and he's great as Abby's caretaker. Elias Koteas' character didn't make as much sense as the concerned citizen from the original (why does it seem like he's the only cop in the whole town?), but he does a fine job as well.

Directly comparing the two movies, I would describe a lot of the changes as just being less subtle. I mean, good on them for cutting the cat scene, but everything else is bigger and more directly explained for no real benefit to the story. They felt the need to outdo some of the hospital scenes with more elaborate special effects, and this is even more prevalent with Abby's attacks. It's not enough for her to suddenly pounce, she has to turn into a computer animated monster and get a scary looking face. The original had a nice period feel taking place in the early 80s, with enough clues to give you a sense of time, but the remake hits you over the head with it, creating a soundtrack out of the era's hits, and adding big cameos for an inappropriately placed Kiss shirt and Ronald Reagan. The latter ties into another thing, the sudden adding of a ton of religious stuff seemingly everywhere. It's pervasive and I don't really get it. And people just say and ask things they don't have to, making things more obvious than they need to be.

Visually, I wasn't nearly as impressed. The original was gorgeous, while the new one is merely pretty good looking. It definitely hits the "orange and teal" thing too hard, and that actually kind of hurts the attempt to bring you to the 80s, since it's just not what the world looked like. I will give credit to one big change though, Jenkins' method for getting blood is a lot more interesting than in the original. Neither idea is actually terribly smart, but in the remake it provides for a hell of a lot more tension in those sings as opposed to just creepiness, leading to a remarkable extended shot as impressive as any single take I've seen in a long time. Seriously exceptional moment of filmmaking. I honestly liked the movie, and don't think it's an insult to say it generally just doesn't stack up to its origin. It's a good vampire movie that thankfully doesn't glorify them like a lot of the other crap in theaters these days. I like what Reeves has done in the last few years, and hope his next project is just more original.

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