Friday, January 27, 2012

Let The Right One In / Let Me In

Written by Joe the Revelator

After watching Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In, which is about a young boy who befriends an immortal in the guise of a 12 year old girl, I sat through the American version Let Me In. And before I go on, I'd now like to warn anyone reading this; much the rest of this post will be nothing more than angry, misdirected vitriol at American cinema for botching a perfectly good movie.

You have to invite me in...

Let The Right One In, in essence, is about a young, bewitching vampire who must replace her longtime human familiar. The poor old fellow with shaky hands has gotten a little too long in the tooth, and can't supply his ward with as much blood as she requires to remain vaguely human. His successor is young Oscar, a boy who is dealing with bullies at school as well as the messy aftermath of his parents' divorce. So much chaos in his life makes him rather pliable as a potential partner for the vampire; i.e. She must mold him into a killer.

What follows is two hours of childlike wonder with short fits of violence, and the incredible ability of the adolescent mind to cope with things far beyond the norm. Oscar's loneliness before meeting the vampire is palpable, and his pleasant, reserved personality make his acceptance of her dark nature feel organic. There is more beauty in this film than I would have expected, given the subject matter and the age of the characters.

By the end of the movie I felt Oscar's new role as Eli's daytime protector was deserved, and their relationship was as mutual as possible, given their circumstances.

The shriek of violins mean I'm supposed to be scared.

The American remake, Let Me In, is ripped off almost line-for-line and scene-for-scene, except it's given a louder, less subtle score, and has the unpleasant moments dulled down for American audiences. They removed the scene where Oscar catches a glimpse of the Eli while she's changing, and is shocked to learn she's missing her girl-parts (on account of being a vampire) which is only implied in the American version. As well as Eli's explanation of why she chose Oscar; because on the inside he's got the potential to become a cold-blooded murderer.

Chloe Graze Moretz, who starred in Kickass as Hitgirl, does a wonderful job playing the vampire of Let Me In. Her ability to transition from seemingly angelic to ferocious, albeit helped by the effects department, is fantastic. Though she doesn't quite nail the haunted appearance of Lina Leandersson. And at no point was there any question as to her motive with Oscar (Owen in this version). She was recruiting him, plain and simple, and he is far more vicious than the fair-haired human counterpart of the original. We are first introduced to Owen while he's naked from the waist up, wearing a creepy translucent mask, staring at himself in the mirror and threatening to cut a girl.

The graphics are better in the remake. Eli's transformations from passably human to vampire are more violent, which actually detracts a bit from the compassion felt between the two. And as I mentioned, every fight or shocking moment is punctuated by an orchestral crescendo, instead of the cold, silent drifting sensation you get from the original.

Why oh why?

Let The Right One In is a fantastic movie, though it may feel plodding at first, and is more drama than thriller. This is not a horror movie in the traditional sense, but is absolutely worth watching.

I feel the remake Let Me In is analogous to American censorship in general. Even the ending is more brutal than the original, with more struggling and splashing and body parts being strewn about. But the lights are turned off. It's like the director was filming a steamy sex scene instead of a bloodbath, the birth of a killer and the galvanizing of their friendship.

Is there such a lack of original story in Hollywood these days? Why remake a movie that isn't outdated yet, especially when the source material is better than the director's new "vision"? It was stated that Matt Reeves, director, wanted to make it more accessible to wider audiences. To this I ask; should those of us in the mood for steak buy a delectable porterhouse, or must everything be ground up into burger patties for the public?

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