Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let Me In (Rhoades)

“Let Me In” Comes Knocking
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

I’m fond of the children of the night … in all their cinematic incarnations. After all, I grew up watching Hammer horror films, especially those Dracula movies starring Christopher Lee.

Now Hammer gives us a new vampire tale called “Let Me In.” It’s currently frightening people at the Tropic Cinema.

Not a hammy Transylvanian tale or a modern-day teen romance, “Let Me In” is a remake of a haunting little Swedish film called “Lat den Ratte Komma In” (translation: “Let the Right One In”).

However, director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) claims it’s not really a remake, just that both films are based on the same John Ajvide Lindqvist novel.
Tomas Alfredson, the guy who directed “Lat den Ratte Komma In,” sees it a bit differently. “If one should remake a film, it’s because the original is bad. And I don’t think mine is,” he grouses.

He’s right about that last part – the original is a gem of a movie. But so is this new version.

This chilling horror tale stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (the kid from last year’s, “The Road”) as an alienated 12-year-old who faces bullies at school. Things aren’t going too well for him until he befriends a mysterious new girl who moves into his building with her father. Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl from “Kick-Ass”) plays his strange acquaintance.

Owen and Abby (they were called Oskar and Eli in the Swedish version) strike up an uneasy friendship. Then, the boy comes to discover that this oddball, sexually ambiguous girl is actually a vampire. “I need to feed on blood,” she explains as casually as declaring a preference for hot dogs or burgers cooked rare.

She lives with an older man known simply as the Father (played by the terrific Richard Jenkins) whose purpose is to kill people for her daily diet of hemoglobin. But when he gets in an accident, the girl must fend for herself.

Police are baffled by the spate of killings in this small New Mexico town. (For this American version, the setting has been moved from the suburbs of Stockholm where author Lindqvist grew up.)

“Well, it was my first novel,” says Lindqvist, “and I wanted to reject all romanticized notions about vampires, or what we’ve seen earlier of vampires, and just concentrate on the question: If a child was stuck forever in a 12-year-old existence and had to walk around killing other people and drink their blood to live – what would that child’s existence really be like? And then it struck me when I wrote the book that it would be an absolutely horrible existence. Miserable, gross and lonely.”

The film explores the idea of feeling powerless in the world. The schoolyard bullying is so extreme that the boy is filled with anger, close to becoming a monster himself. “Then he meets this real monster who pulls him back from the edge.”

A lot of the story’s angst comes from Lindqvist’s own childhood. “What I say at the end of the book, that everything in it is true, just that it happened in another way. And I probably longed for the same type of rescue as he gets.”

Matt Reeves could identify. “I read the book and was really intrigued how personal the story felt,” says the new director. “I wrote Lindqvist and told him that it wasn’t just that I was drawn to the story because it was a brilliant genre story – which it is – but also because of the personal aspect of it. It really reminds me of my childhood.”

Vampire movie? The genre is incidental. What we have here is a tale of adolescent longing and loneliness, cloaked as a provocative thriller.
[from Solares Hill]

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