**Minor spoiler alert**
I don’t often get my knickers in a twist, a bee rarely gets under my bonnet, and there is hardly ever a pickle up my arse. Except when I think about something that has been going on more and more lately.
It could be an effect of the global economic crisis- studios constricting and therefore averse to taking risks – or perhaps a lack of creative people in the Hollywood hills. But European films have suffered as a result. I’m talking about lazy remakes, or ‘reinterpretations’, as many studios call them.
Let Me In is one of those films.
The original, Let The Right One In was a uniquely Scandinavian film; moody atmospherics, a slow pace and a script that worked brilliantly, being written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, from his own novel. It was a totally different way of presenting the vampire in film, where the very real problems of a 12 year old boy’s lonely existence is juxtaposed against a 200 year old ‘girl’ vampire, also lonely and in need of companionship. It was probably my favourite film of 2008. And it had that fantastic quality of never going for a big money shot, never looking for a cheap thrill or gory scare.
Then, we have Let Me In. I watched this film two days ago with my wife. We had both seen the original and loved it, so we were intrigued to se what Matt Reeves had done, while at the same time trying to suppress feelings of resentment that a remake had been green lit in the first place.
And the problem is this: an American audience has a preconception of vampire films. They have pale blue eyes, they are harbingers of evil, they let blood; there’s an archetype they have to fit in to. Let Me In knows this and doesn’t try to deviate. It goes for the cliché and ruins so much of the originality. But paradoxically, it is also nearly a shot for shot remake of the original.
The central relationship between Roland and Abbey is not ambiguous here, (how an American studio would hate that) and where the original leaves you to consider whether Abbey is using Oscar (original character’s name), or she is genuinely looking for a companion, Let Me In rams it down your throat that he is being used, that this vampire has to be evil, and therefore the delicate balance of the narrative is broken.
Matt Reeves is a good director with visual flair- look at Cloverfield – and there are some great shots here, particularly the car crash. But as a follow up to a totally original film, why did he choose to remake an already near-perfect film? He was just asking for trouble.
I was disappointed with the result. A pointless, crude copy, done for financial gain rather than artistic merit.
If you even think about watching Let Me In, you must watch Let the Right One In first. It is an infinitely better film.
There, got that off my chest.
There are some Hollywood remakes that have been successful (and I don’t mean box office returns) but compared to the originals, they still can’t compare:
Scarface: Pacino is brilliant, but it doesn’t compare to the 1932 Original Scarface. (I’m not just being pretentious- it really is amazing)
And yes there have been films that go beyond their original source material, but this is an altogether different issue. When Terry Gilliam made Twelve Monkeys, he based it on Chris Marker’s La Jetée, a 30-minute film of still images, based on the end of the world. Gilliam used it as a jumping off point to create a weird and wonderful time travel film, which can hardly be compared to the original.
Anyway, you know how I feel. No more European remakes Hollywood. Whatever happened to originality?
And now that David Fincher is currently shooting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig, this annoying euro-remake trend is not going to go away. I already know his film wont be a patch on the original and I’m surprised – and disappointed – that Fincher even took the gig. I can feel hives coming on just thinking about it….Follow @bennybentham