Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween Challenge - #1 Let Me In

Well, let me start off by saying that this review is really for those who have previously seen Let the Right One In. If you haven't seen it, your experience of seeing Let Me In will probably be different than mine.

[I'd also like to recommend seeing the Swedish film at some point if you haven't, because it was one of the best films of 2008.]

I went into the film cautiously optimistic, because I had read a number of reviews from people who had also loved the original movie and were trepidatious about a remake, but who ended up really liking the American version in its own right.

The end result for me was that I'm glad I saw it for free. The film definitely had its moments; Matt Reeves set up some really beautiful shots, but I couldn't stop comparing it to the first film. Let the Right One In was so unique and wonderful, that when I saw it, it really seared itself onto my brain. The remake just didn't impress me enough to stand on its own.

I liked the setting (1980s New Mexico) and I really liked most of the actors. Elias Koteas is fabulous and Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee are mostly very good. Richard Jenkins, on the other hand, isn't given much time in which to make an impact and I cannot see Jack's kid from LOST without thinking "Jack's kid from LOST."

My problems with the film were these:
- the CGI for Chloe's character. I'm sorry. It looked hokey and totally pulled me out of the film. It was like a gollum-vampire every time she ran around.
- which brings me to point #2. I think it would have been more effective if there had been less time spent with her in 'vampire mode.' A little girl attacking a grown man in a tunnel and ripping his throat out is scary. The same girl with weird contacts and makeup licking blood off the floor is not. (or a little girl bounding around a tunnel like gollum. Not. Scary.)

What I loved best about the first film was this concept of a young girl vampire. It really dealt with what the consequences of that creature would be. Someone perpetually at that age of burgeoning adulthood, hormonal swings, and tunnel vision focus. How would she survive? What would happen when someone who lived with her grew up and she did not? And finally - what would it be like to meet this little girl who needs blood to survive. The Swedish film emphasized her similarities to a young girl, rather than her vampire traits.

I will say what I loved best about Chloe Moretz's performance was the way she showed Abby's want, or hunger. It reminded me of the description of Claudia in Interview with a Vampire; "A little child she was, but also a fierce killer, now capable of the ruthless pursuit of blood with all a child's demanding." When she craves something, it fills up her whole being and that worked really well.

However, one of my other problems of the film was also with Chloe Moretz. Not for her performance, but for her casting. I think it's because I had seen her as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass, but she just didn't come off as quite fragile enough. There wasn't the jarring disconnect between tiny girl and unstoppable killer.

As for the blossoming relationship between the two, both young actors were quite good, and it mostly worked.

My final problem with the film? The swimming pool scene. There was just not the tension or the shock and awe that the first film had. Oh well.

UPDATE: Cleolinda has a really interesting post up over at her place that has the perspective of someone who hasn't seen the original.

3/5 Stars

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