Monday, 20 October 2014

Film #20: 'Let Me In'

'Remake' is a dirty world to film lovers.
You could write a thousand swear words about a beloved classic, you could point out things it does badly, curse the actors, call the director a hack, or melt copies down into a trough and place it in a pub toilet for people to piss into, and some people would think you were treating a film with more reverence than someone who wanted to remake it.

So when "Let The Right One In" - a haunting tale of the growing friendship between two kids, one of whom is from a broken home, bullied, and without friends, the other is an ageless vampire - was to be remade there was the expected outcry of "why can't mainstream movie-goers just read? They'll ruin this film! blah blah blah"
Most of the arguments against remakes kind of annoy me, for a start no matter how bad you think a remake is, it can't ruin the original. Worst case scenario, you learn a little something more about what you like in films!
After that, if it turns out to be good: Bonus.
If not: Don't see it.

As for this particular remake, it came out in 2010 and I saw it last night in that time it was really easy to put off seeing this film based on its advertising:

Anyway, that just leads to this "Let Me In":

First thing's first, I did like the original. But I saw it so long ago, when it was released, that I can't really do a fair comparison.
I have strong memories of parts of it though, one thing I was really glad to see omitted from this version, that bit with the CGI cats. The CGI is distractingly bad in that part and ruins the effect.

With the remake, straight off, I don't have CGI to compliment - there's some dodgy CGI in this, but thankfully it's limited in use.

What there is in this movie is a LOT of good stuff. A lot of good stuff that the advertising (see above) couldn't do justice.
It's beautifully shot, it's slow, brooding, and the leads - ChloĆ« Grace Moretz (Abby) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Owen) - are two young actors who set unrealistically high standard for other child actors.

This movie has has atmosphere, it has some fantastic & brutal scenes, but because so much of this film is about the relationship between the two leads the whole film could easily crumble with it being miscast.
The supporting cast includes Richard Jenkins as Abby's "father", Elias Koteas as the detective, but the entire film rests on the child actors who just exude sadness and a sense of unbelonging in the world until they find each other. Even after they find each other, all they do is make a sheltered version of their loneliness, as the world continues to take its toll on each of them.

Abby's "Father" lives a life of "caring for" Abbey (read: killing people, draining their blood into a bottle, and bringing it to Abby for sustenance.), when he moves into a new apartment complex Abby makes friends with a local boy. Owen, the boy in question, has a lot of short straws pulled from the lot of life, he's fairly timid, his parents have split up, and he's the victim-of-choice for the schools bully. In Abby he finds a friend, and the two share their quiet lives as best they can. When Abby's "father" fails to provide for her, and later gets into a near-death accident, she begins to have to fend for herself, and that's when Owen discovers her secret (spoiler: she drinks blood and eats flesh because she's a vampire)

Even given the heavy tone, and crushing pain of some of the scenes, it's hard not to like this film.
As a 'remake' it works on its own merits, the sense of familiarity of the original and some key scenes remind you that you've seen some of this before, but it feels so fresh and so well presented that it's definitely its own film.

I liked it, liked it a lot.

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