“Are you a vampire?”
I am sincerely against American remakes of foreign horror films. First they poached Japanese horror films (The Ring, The Grudge etc), now they’ve moved a little closer to home. ‘Let Me In’ is a remake of the 2008 Swedish horror film Let The Right One In (apointless name change!), and as always, something has been lost in translation. In general, American horror remakes tend to explain too much, show too much, and fail to capture the atmosphere of the original. And ‘Let Me In’ makes all of those mistakes, and a few more. I wholly agree with the director of ‘Let The Right One In’ when he said that “If one should remake a film, it’s because the original is bad. And I don’t think mine is.” And he’s correct!
If you’ve seen ‘Let The Right One In’ (like I have), then you’ve seen Let Me In. It’s almost a scene for scene remake of ‘Let The Right One In’, albeit set in 1980s America. And we are reminded of this context brutally throughout the film: Regan haunts the film with a presence greater than Abbey. Songs from the 1980s punctuate the (awful) soundtrack, to once again remind us that we are in the 1980s. However, we are also in the realm of ‘Let The Right One In, with strikingly similar locations. It reminded me of the scene-for-scene remake of Psycho that we were ‘treated’ to over a decade ago. Admittedly, some of the cinematography is excellent, and the direction is nothing less than very good. However, the film is less than the sum of its parts.
“You have to invite me in.”
As that Plato chap said once, a copy of an original will be rubbish. Or something along those lines. Let Me In never strays from the original source, so what we get is a typical American remake: more of the same, but excessive gore, swearing, and terrible CGI and makeup. Seriously, I’ve seen better makeup done by the local face painter. A man pours acid on his face, and because it’s an American remake, we have to see the burned face close up. Unfortunately, the prosthetic burns look plastic. The CGI is not any better: a scene involving fire looks like it was animated by a chimpanzee. When Abbey (the vampire of the story) turns into a vampire, her CGI animations are laughable. And we are not protected from the shoddy effects by darkness or cunning lighting: being an American remake, we have to see everything. Not only does this wrench us from the story, it makes us laugh in disbelief. Considering that $20 million was spent on ‘Let Me In’, the effects are worse than those in ‘Let The Right One In’, and that was made for around $4 million. What happened?!?!
It’s hard to review ‘Let Me In’ without comparing it to Let The Right One In, and my companions who hadn’t see the original thought the remake was decent. Nothing special, but decent. And I’m trying my best not to let the original infect my review, and judge the remake on its own merits. The two main leads were very well acted, for example. Chloë Moretz, by far the best thing in the painfully average Kick-Ass, is also the best thing in Let Me In, closely followed by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Chloë Moretz exhibits the incredible age and pathos of Abbey, the vampire who’s lived (almost) forever, yet never ages past twelve. There’s wisdom beyond her years in her dialogue and speech. The rest of the cast leave little imprint on the mind, especially Elias Koteas. He almost does a spot-on reimagining of Gene Hackman in ‘The Conversation,’ yet it doesn’t fit his character! I bet Crash feels so long ago for him…
Do you think there’s such a thing as evil?
The script is sparse, and occasionally brilliant, yet often it feels ponderous and dull. Expletives take away from the effect of key pieces of dialogue. Once more, excess is valued over subtlety. The cinematography and direction are very good; for example, there is a car crash scene that is filmed exclusively from the back of the car involved. Superb. Yet it’s all wasted. And the soundtrack is the typical American horror soundtrack: painfully trying to build up suspense with high strings and violins, yet actually building up to nothing. Excessive gore will please fans of excessive gore, yet that’s all it is, at the end of the day: excessive gore.
I admit, I cannot review Let Me In without a bias. And, like I said, my friends enjoyed it. However, it is nothing more than a poor (almost) scene-for-scene remake of the original, with a silly title change and extra Americana to boot! Another pointless remake in a year with plenty of pointless remakes… For Matt Reeves, it’s an excellent showcase of his ability as a director, but as with Cloverfield, he is constrained by an outside influence. A for effort Mr. Reeves…
VERDICT: 4/10. ‘Let Me In’ is yet another pointless Hollywood remake of a foreign horror film. Matt Reeves shows potential as a director, but it’s all for nothing. Just watch the original!
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