LET ME IN * * * * *
Cert 15, 116 mins
Remakes are a funny old business in Hollywood, which often treats them as nothing more than artistically-pointless cash cows.
See The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street for damning evidence.
More worryingly, anyone looking forward to the current best actor Oscar winner Jeff Bridges starring in the Coen Bros’ new version of John Wayne’s True Grit (release now delayed until January 14) would do well to remember one thing. Their foul-mouthed version of Ealing’s classic The Ladykillers in 2004 is surely the biggest misfire that double Oscar-winning Tom Hanks has ever made.
Thankfully, Let Me In remains a rare beast – a strikingly original vampire thriller, remake or not.
Director Tomas Alfredson made the original 2008 movie Let The Right One In.
Adapted from his own novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist and shot in Sweden, it explored ‘‘the moral sense of vampires, that they have to be invited to get to you’’.
The story featured bullied 12-year-old boy Oscar finding love through a beautiful girl called Eli.
Except she was a vampire who had an insatiable need to feed.
The surprisingly faithful remake is by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, the Australian-born star of The Road, is outstanding as the renamed boy, Owen.
Likewise Kick-Ass star Chloe Moretz as Abby. She’s either got a very level head on her 12-year-old shoulders or is heading for therapy by the time she’s 21.
Let Me In has ditched the cat sequence from the first movie, but generally succeeds with its pared down view of the vampire world and leaves some questions pleasingly unanswered, like the role of The Father (Richard Jenkins).
Unlike Hollywood’s typical horrors which attempt to deafen you with pre-emptive sound effects, the score is often deceptively simple, with the pluck of a single string alternating with a simple piano note.
Purists will argue that Let The Right One In remains the superior movie, but being a Swedish film with subtitles was always going to limit its appeal.
Even though I’ve seen the original, Let Me In still raised the hairs on my neck more times than any other film this year.
It’s good enough to put everything from the soporific nonsense of the Twilight series to the cheap shot spoof Vampire Sucks and the 3D filth of Saw firmly in their place. GY
WE ARE WHAT WE ARE * * *
Cert 15, 89 mins
First vampires, then cannibals. This Mexican film features a family who like to dine on human flesh – not that you’d realise this for some time if you went in with no knowledge of the plot.
It is slow and difficult going, with nothing spelled out. A family – father, mother, two sons and a daughter – survive by mending clocks and watches and eating people.
When the father dies suddenly, they must find fresh meat themselves.
“You have to keep the ritual going,” daughter Sabina (Paulina Gaitan) tells eldest son Alfred (Francisco Barreiro). Much mention is made of ‘the ritual’ without it ever being explained.
After trying to catch a homeless kid, they defy their mother’s wishes by bringing home a prostitute.
Meanwhile, the hapless local police have found a woman’s finger in dad’s stomach, but don’t seem too surprised. It’s just as well they are inept, as the family are careless as they go about the business of murder.
Thankfully, the gory violence is mostly off-screen, though there are some nasty sound effects amid a frankly strange score.
It’s quite funny in parts, though maybe not intentionally so, and it gets rather ridiculous by the end.
I wish we knew more about why they are cannibals, but if you like enigmatic, interestingly-shot foreign films, then give this one a go. RL
YOU AGAIN * *
Cert U, 101 mins
Putting Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver together in a film ought to be a great idea.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work at all in this case. They’re both intelligent women, so it amazes me why they signed up for such a lame, contrived script.
Marni (Kristen Bell) is shocked to discover her brother is about to marry Joanna (Odette Yustman), the girl who made her life a misery in high school.
Marni has made a success of her life, but back then she was a gawky loser and relentlessly bullied.
Joanna claims to have no memory of her victim. Now a nurse, she seems to be a saint – or is she just putting on an act? When her aunt Ramona (Weaver) arrives, it emerges she too has a childhood history with Marni’s mother Gail (Curtis). What a coincidence!
There are very few laughs, too much stupid slapstick, and I hated the way it turns schmaltzy-sweet by the end.
It would have been a more entertaining and bitchy film if Joanna was an out-and-out villain, but being a Disney movie, it’s drowning in sappiness. RL