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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hump-Day Harangue: The "Let Me In" Trailer--OK It Won't Suck, But Is It Necessary?

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat, because I've been sitting on this and mulling it over for quite a while. As many of you know, and have probably seen elsewhere, the first official trailer for Let Me In, Matt Reeves adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish novel Let the Right One In, was unveiled earlier this month. For those who haven't seen it yet, here it is:

To merely refer to it as an adaptation of the novel is to be a bit coy however, as we all know that the book was, only two years ago, adapted into a superb Swedish film by Tomas Alfredson. It was a film which many called the greatest vampire movie of all time, and I would personally rank among the best films I've seen in recent years, perhaps second only to There Will Be Blood as the best film of the '00s. It was powerful, it was moving, it was expertly acted and directed, with an unforgettable score and a timeless quality few contemporary films maintain.

And so, to a certain extent, we must admit that Reeves' Let Me In is just another in a long line of English-language horror remakes put together in the wake of a successful foreign film, much as we saw with Quarantine ([REC]), The Ring (Ringu) and many others. Yes, Reeves claims to be going back to the original source material, but you and I both know that this movie would not have been made were it not for Alfredson's film. So what do we make of it?

Granted, my knee-jerk reaction is to lament the inanity of the American movie machine, which seems to have lost all faith in American audiences consuming anything that isn't completely spoon-fed to them. I mean, why not simply dub these successful foreign films into English if you're so worried about Americans not wanting to read subtitles? Did they remake The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in 1968 with all American actors? I guess the closest thing I can think of to this modern phenomenon is the way the original Gojira was ruined with new footage to appeal to American audiences in 1956. Is that really the model to be emulating?

But on the other hand, everything I've seen regarding this American version has been impressive. Chloe Moretz of Kick-Ass seems pitch-perfect as Eli (or Abby if they insist) and this Kodi Smit-McPhee kid they got to play Oskar (Owen...sigh, what's wrong with Oskar??) also seems up to the task. Checking out the trailer also gives me even more hope that this will be a good movie--the look is right, it seems to be faithful to the material, and the relationship between the two leads feels right. Also, love that Morse code ending. This does not seem (too much) like a watered-down Americanization. Some of the calm beauty of the Swedish film seems to be replaced with the typically dire, potboiler tone most Americans are more used to, but that could very well be the way the trailer is edited. And of course, Eli has been unequivocally confirmed as a girl, which was to be expected.

Still, one has to ask, why bother? If the reason is to truly go back to the book and do something different, they don't seem to going about it that way at all. Watching that trailer felt very much like watching Alfredson's film, down to specific moments and shots being mimicked (much like Quarantine did.) Sure, they're apparently exploring some stuff from the novel that wasn't in the other movie, such as the ultra-bizarre Hakan subplot, but quite frankly, from what I've seen, that doesn't seem to be playing much of a major part. Rather, it seems mainly to be aping Alfredson's work. And if that's the case, no matter how great it is, I'm still going to be walking away scratching my head wondering why it was even attempted. Or more accurately, I'll be shaking my head, knowing precisely the only reason it was attempted: another easy payday.

I'm so on the fence about this project, it's not even funny. Let the Right One In is a movie that's very close to my heart, and sure, I know the old saying, no matter what they do with it, the original still exists for me to enjoy. I just can't decide whether I'm happy about this new version or not. It does seem intriguing and well-made, I just hope that Reeves and company live up to their promise and give us something fresh and new--the novel is fertile enough ground to allow that--rather than just another spoon-fed American remake.

* * * * * * * * * *

REMINDER: For those who feel they missed out on the greatness that was Kevin Geeks Out!, I encourage you to get down to 92YTribeca in Manhattan this Friday night for the encore presentation of Mr. Maher's most acclaimed shlockfest of them all: Kevin Geeks Out About Sharks! I attended the initial presentation, and I can tell you it's a night you will carry with you till you sleep in Davey Jones' locker. Shark cupcakes will be provided for all, plus the first 10 people to arrive get a copy of the sold-out comic book Grizzly Shark and Sea Bear!

Kevin Geeks Out! returns for one night only, so don't miss out, dweebs! Get the ticket info and stuff at Kevin's blog.


Pax Romano said...

"Still, one has to ask, why bother?"

I think I might have an answer: Did I see the logo for Icon films at the start of this trailer? And isn't Mel Gibson the president of that company? Well, there you are - that alcoholic, homophobic, wife beating piece of trash needs some money!

That said, I am probably going to skip this one until it's on DVD as the original was so good, I really don't need to see a remake this early in the game.

Stewart Sternberg said...

While I am reluctant to endorse this remake, I have to say I am enthusiastic about the idea that many people will be exposed to a wonderful story they would otherwise miss because they either don't see foreign films, or films with subtitles. As long as the film doesn't "Americanize" it.

the jaded viewer said...

The trailer seemed edited into a murder mystery than a tragic Shakespearian vampire film. But Chloe Moretz was stellar in Kick Ass and the movie will probably copy the great cinematography of Alfredson's film.

It really will depend on Moretz if she can make Eli err I mean Abby feel real.

Or this could turn out to be Twilight for tweens.

Anonymous said...

Stewart makes an interesting point. Are American film goers so anti- everything else that maybe, just maybe this may turn them on to a unique film, therefore, encouraging them to seek out the original? I certainly hope so. I'm excited to see this and have hope that it will do it justice: both the original and the source material.

B-Sol said...

I guess the best we can hope for is that it will be a really good movie that might, as Stewart suggested, point people toward the original film (which I think Quarantine did, to some extent, with [REC]). Jaded, as I said, i think the tone of that trailer may not actually represent the tone of the finished film. And Pax, it does make me feel kinda icky that ol' Psycho Mel's name is attached to this in any way...

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

The fact that the gender is no longer ambiguous fills me with utter rage. I'm not sure I'll be able to let that go.

And, wow, Mel Gibson. I feel like that almost demands a boycott.

Strange Kid said...

I agree with Missy regarding the gender. Its the little nuances such as that which gave the original its unsettling vibe.

I've heard mildly positive reviews on this one, but simply can't escape the unnecessary nature of it all. Is it that hard to be original that all we're left with is a future full of re-hashings?

Note: Yes, I realize the irony is that even "original" works are inspired by something, but at least they have the decency to take basic plot points and make them their own.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

The trailer is, in my opinion, pretty awful. Though, I do agree that the film is unlikely to be much like it. The music in the trailer is the real tragedy. Why do people not understand that regular old radio-friendly tunes are not scary? A movie should not be a vehicle for some shitty bad.

And back to the gender issue. I don't think it made it anymore unsettling, but I think it made it more analytically interesting (i.e., what does it mean that a vampire is genderless?) You dig?

B-Sol said...

The gender issue adds depth and texture to the story, which has now been removed for the sake of a dumbed-down, safer, more "smoothed out" American version. I found the issue of Eli's sexuality subtle and fascinating--if anything, I was hoping they'd get even more in-depth with it, as they do in the novel. In the Swedish film, it honestly went completely over my head on the first viewing.

fallon said...

As a side note to the entire crux of this post - I have to agree with you that There Will Be Blood is my favorite movie of the decade. It is without flaw.

Anonymous said...

You are all far nicer and more optimistic than I. Personally, I don't really buy the 'it might lead some to the original therefore it's okay' argument. For me that's like saying the war bought different cultures together so therefore that's okay. The sole argument for me is: will it improve at all on the original? And the answer is, of course, no. I'm amazed people are entertaining hopes that it might! Seriously, what remakes have you been watching this past decade? Face it, it's going to suck.

B-Sol said...

Fallon, I'm including There Will Be Blood on the series of 52 Perfect Movies that I'm doing for Cinema Geek. Incidentally, I'm also including LTROI. But for now, I'm just working my way through the '60s...

Anonymous, I can't honestl say every single remake has been awful, and this one looks like it will be a good movie. I do not in any way expect it to add anything to the original, and despite the expectations, I still do think it's probably unnecessary and the original should've been released in American theaters instead.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

You mean wide release, right? I did see it in a theater in New York. But it was the Angelika, so it's not like a lot of people saw it.

It's possible that it won't suck, but it's unlikely. I think, for my part, I just don't see the use in railing against it because I can't prevent it. Also, one does not have to see it, right?

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