Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Let Me In (2010)

Above: Lina Leandersson & Kare Hedebrant in Let The Right One In, 2008. Below: Chloe Moretz & Kodi Smit-McPhee in Let Me In, 2010.


(Dir. Matt Reeves, 2010)

The first two blunders in Let Me In occur before the opening sequence has even finished:

1) Making changes to the narrative (of Let The Right One In) for the sake of nothing else but change.

2) Shouting at everyone that this is now about the United States of America - by pistol-starting with evangelists, with an epic orchestral score, and with a glaringly propped TV blaring out a patriotic speech made by a former President.

Let Me In is Matt Reeves's certain remake of the very special, uncertain Let The Right One In (2008). Both films borrowed their stories from Lindqvist's airportly novel about a girl-vampire's friendship with first her elderly helper, and later his replacement: a boy who is bullied at school and is struggling at the latch of puberty. The action has moved from Stockholm to New Mexico. Self-preservation is the challenge facing Eli (now Abby) and Oskar (now Owen), who must overcome the threats posed by their impulses and those of their enemies. What they don't have to deal with on screen is mortality, the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart crisis. And not even prodigy actors Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) or Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) can make this film fly. The faintly sketched community, the need for one genre only, and even the emptied significance of the snow, make for a missable, wet thug of a movie. All the androgyny and irony in Let The Right One In has been subject to bloodsucking. Reeves transports the impressive terror of his Cloverfield to a wholly foreign project, without a second thought.

There is no real pain, loneliness or consolation detectable in Moretz and Smit-McPhee's behaviour. Probably their talents are let down by a contender for most unnecessary adapted screenplay in history. If this were a TV movie, it would be worth flicking channels during each scene of dialogue. Never creepy, because it is never allowed to sit still and scare, Let Me In is another contradictory product of recession cinema; culture cannot afford the collapse of the movie industry, yet pointless remakes such as this one demand violent reviewing. The computer improvements on the climbing and killing skills of a vampire, and on the abruptness of fire, are cheap resorts to satisfy. From ten minutes in I wanted out, and for the world to go back to Thomas Alfredson's beautiful reimagination of a bland book.

The author Salman Rushdie has sought to debunk the mythical law that books are better than their screen adaptations. I wonder if he has read and seen Let The Right One In - a fragile conch of storytelling, an intimacy polished by a second pair of hands, but colonised and crushed in a third grip. This book to film to film-remake process is time consuming. Rarely is great art found crushed on either side by disappointment.

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