Let Me In

Friday, 15 October, 2010

4 stars

The premise

Let Me In (trailer) is US director Matt Reeves’ take of the 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In” (Låt den rätte komma in), about a lonely 12 year old boy who befriends a vampire girl of apparently the same age, who moves in next door.

“Let Me In” is the latest in a line of Hollywood remakes of European films, following on from the likes of this year’s Neil LaBute version of the 2007 British made “Death at a Funeral”, or David Fincher’s upcoming interpretation of “The Millennium Trilogy” book series, which includes a re-rendering of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is slated for release in late 2011.

The play

12 year Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives with his separated mother (Cara Buono) in the New Mexico town of Los Alamos, but has few friends. Life at school isn’t much fun either, he is often the target of taunts and assaults from a group of older bullies, but finds some solace playing puzzle games, or drifting in and out of an imaginary world in his mind.

He is intrigued by the arrival of a girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz), who seems to be his age, and who looks to be her father (Richard Jenkins), in the apartment next door. Abby has a few quirks Owen can’t quite make sense of, such as walking around barefoot in the snow, or the ability to very quietly appear, without warning, where ever he is.

While Abby tells Owen on their first meeting they cannot be friends, they nonetheless become close. Meanwhile the town is the grip of a macabre series of murders, which has local police detective (Elias Koteas) thinking a satanic ritual killer of some sort is on the rampage.

As the murders grow in frequency, and begin occurring ever closer to his home though, Owen begins to realise Abby is not exactly an average 12 year old girl, and soon starts to suspect she is in fact behind the killings. But does he report her, the only friend he has ever had, or help her?

The wrap

The prospect of a remake of any reasonably highly regarded film is enough to strike dread into the minds of many film-goers, something Reeves was acutely aware of, but here, in the director of “Cloverfield”, is a safe pair of hands. And while I haven’t seen the Swedish original, there is little to fault here.

Perhaps there have been a few teen vampire romance films too many recently, but Reeves strikes the right balance between suspense and action, horror and romance/friendship, and there are plenty of moments that make “Let Me In” feel like another sort of story all together.

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The Killer Inside Me

Friday, 27 August, 2010

3 and a half stars

The premise

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, and based on US writer Jim Thompson’s novel of the same name, The Killer Inside Me is the story of Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), a deputy sheriff living and working in the Texas town of Central City, in the 1950s.

Ford believes he needs to not only be a man to succeed in his line of work, but also a gentleman, and accordingly has a reputation as a polite and conscientious police officer. This decorum however only just manages to conceal a deep-seated contempt for humanity, something his scornful treatment of a drunk he randomly encounters attests to.

The play

Life is pretty routine for Ford. He lives in the house he grew up in, which he inherited after his father died. He is dating his high school sweetheart, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), who obligingly slips in and out for overnight stays while it is dark, so as not to bring “shame” on him.

Things begin to change after sheriff Bob Maples (Tom Bower) sends him to investigate Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a young woman living on the outskirts of town, who is suspected of being a prostitute. After meeting her and at first threatening to run her out of town, he instead starts seeing as often as he can.

He then begins to see how he could use Joyce as a way of taking revenge against Elmer Conway (Jay R. Ferguson), whom he used to go to school with, and Conway’s father, Chester (Ned Beatty). Ford believes it was the incompetence of Chester that resulted in the death of his adoptive brother years earlier.

He duly executes his deadly and violent plan, but in the days and weeks following the act, finds himself having to deal with an increasing number of mistakes and oversights that come to light as the subsequent police investigation progresses. And so begins his murderous spree…

The wrap

Ford is clearly a very disturbed man. The suggestion is a number of lewd events during his childhood – happenings that we are only given the merest glimpses of – had a part in shaping him into the dark, psychotic, person he is.

“The Killer Inside Me” has attracted controversy for its graphic and confronting depictions of violence, especially towards women. The violence is unsettling, hard to watch, and many would say needless, but take it away from the story, even by trying to imply its occurrence, and what is left?

This is not a film for everyone, but look passed its violent elements, and “The Killer Inside Me” is probably one of the more intriguing film offerings of this year.

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