:Let Me In
: I had a long argument with myself about whether I should see this or not. The original is so good that it really doesn't need remaking, I thought, unless you're making it for the lazy masses who don't want to read subtitles. But then a line in a review caught my attention: "If a story is good enough to be told once, isn't it good enough to be told again?" I mulled this over, gently sent my snobbery off an errand and then snuck out of the house while it was gone so as to see the movie. And the pay-off was 99% of what I hoped: "Let Me In" is a solid film that doesn't copy the original, exactly, but keeps almost everything that made the original so good, atmospheric, and masterful. What it adds is mostly fairly good: the New Mexico locale and the 1983 setting work well (I thought there was no other place that would embody the desolate solitude of the Swedish original; turns out I was wrong), the 80s soundtrack is well-integrated and at times endearing and funny. Perhaps the best addition is a prop, the exact nature of which I don't want to give away, but hints more at the backstory of two of the characters in a wonderfully succinct and touching manner. What the American version does add that works somewhat less well is more gore. This vampire girl is truly a monster, and she moves like one when she feeds, attacking her victims in a decisively animalistic way; on the other hand, the CGI never feels forced or overdone (scrambling up trees and buildings, she slips and struggles, not graceful but entirely predatory). But the acting jobs from everyone involved are amazing and easily make up for the violence and gore factor. The only way that this film falls short is the lack of subtlety in its message: that the bullies who threaten our hero are more monsters than any supernatural force. (Hearing Owen scream from pain and fear as he was tormented was far worse than avoiding seeing the really gory moments.) But the both versions end on a pitch-perfect note, and both deal with the horrors of everyday life contrasted with the greater struggle of good and evil, and the consequences of evil on the human soul. The remake is well worth your time, especially if you like your horror relatively slow and tension-filled, and filled with characters who are achingly, truly human.
revisited: And speaking of contrasting everyday life with horror, yebisu9
and I re-watched this last night. I had a wonderful time remembering seeing it in theaters with karabean
and then regretting seeing it as I listened to the trees swaying Right Outside My Bedroom Window as I was trying to go to sleep. I know that the general consensus about this film isn't good; people seem to find the story contrived and the scares pointless. But I'm going to commit sci fi blasphemy and argue that this is a damned good movie, and that the only reason it may fail as science fiction is because it really isn't science fiction: it's a dramatic character study that just so happens to have science fiction elements. And even though some of the scares are contrived, there is nothing quite like the grainy video footage about 2/3 of the way through, of the creature invading the children's birthday party. That you cannot see its face makes it even worse: the unnamed, unidentifiable horror, contrasted with the mundane party hats that the kids are wearing is a hundred times worse than seeing this thing right out in the open. And it's no surprise that the thing won't show its true face; the central conflict of the story (Graham's struggle to regain his religious faith and the cause that led to this crisis in the first place) isn't revealed, either, until almost the very end of the story, when the dramatic tension has reached a boiling point for everyone involved. The aliens aren't so much aliens as they are personifications of demons that Graham's internalized since the death of his wife and their threat against our heroes is only as real as his faith, which slowly but surely comes back, healed and renewed. What a satisfying story! So glad I watched it again. (And glad that there aren't too many trees that sway menacingly outside our apartment.)On TV
: I really, really want to like this show, but there's just something missing that makes it, sadly, not possible for me to do so. It feels a little too much like a poorly run Spycraft RPG, with the requisite plot twists and turns as told by a 17-year-old game master whose view of the CIA is limited to what he's seen in James Bond movies and on late-night TV shows like that one with Pamela Anderson as a bodyguard. I was actually pretty excited to see it, because, hey, a show with two leading characters who aren't white (*gasp*! On a major US network?!), with sexy costume changes and exotic locales? I should be so there! And yet... after two episodes, I am left a profound sense of "meh". It doesn't especially help that other than our heroes (who are likable enough but oddly flat), there aren't any characters who I really like or identify with. I also find especially annoying the convention of "if you have one spy skill, you have them all!". For example, in the most recent episode,
Samantha shows off her skills in "sexpionage" (*snerk*), interrogation, surveillance, and bomb defusing. Call me crazy, but I was under the general impression that just because you can do one of these well doesn't mean you're automatically great at the others, especially the bomb defusing part. I know this is meant as a fast-paced comedy show and that I am probably taking it far too seriously, but it rankles of lazy writing, and of 17-year-old game mastering skills. I would like to see something written for those of us with at least 25-year-old game mastering inclinations.
Also, on TV, House
's 2-episode score card so far:
Adorable Children in Peril: 1
Writers Breaking Episode Formula: 0.5
More formula-breaking and fewer adorable children in peril, please!