Archive for October, 2010

Movie Review: Let Me In

(warning: may contain spoilers)

I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Actually, that’s an understatement. I hate, hate, HATE horror movies. I never watch them because let’s be honest, I’m a wimp who has an overactive imagination and a chronic difficulty in falling asleep… and I don’t need to be watching horror films to exacerbate either of these things.

Having said that, this movie is so much more than a typical horror, or even vampire, film. In fact, I would classify it more as a gothic romance than a horror film; somewhat reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely dark and twisted. I mean, you wouldn’t take your children to go see it. But then it’s also beautiful and romantic and moving at the same time, mostly because of the love story between Abbey, the vampire girl, and Owen, the wimpy, bullied boy. Both share a dark side – Abbey with the whole brutal killer thing and Owen because he’s bullied so much to the extent that he wants to kill and pour out his hate and anger on someone else – and I think that’s why they share this sudden and strong connection when they first meet.

There are so many things to love about this film (the cinematography was amazing, the music score was hauntingly beautiful, and the acting was superb), but what I loved most about it was the humanity of, who most people would consider to be the villain of the story, the vampire-girl, Abbey, and the relationships she has with her ‘Father’ and with Owen. On the one hand, she’s a cold-blooded killer for sure, but when we are shown that she kills not because she finds pleasure in it, but because she’s hungry, because she’ll die without it, we also come to understand and sympathise with her character and the position she is placed in.

The story between Abbey and her ‘Father’ is especially moving when we see how much he is willing to sacrifice to keep her alive – to the extent that he pours acid on his face to disfigure himself so that, when he is caught trying to kill someone, the police cannot trace the murders back to Abbey, and when he gives himself to her so that she can suck his blood before he, as a result, plummets to his death. If that is not an unconditional and self-sacrificing love, I don’t know what is.

The dark and yet, innocent love story between Abbey and Owen also showcases the humanity of these characters. When you juxtapose the brutal and violent murder scenes with the silent, creeping beauty of the scenes she has with Owen (this scene, for example), you see that Abbey is so much more than just a murderous villain. When we see how Owen and Abbey interact with one another how they care for each other, and love each other despite the darkness within themselves, we really get a taste of what it means to love someone unconditionally.

And what I loved most about Owen’s character was his innocence and the purity of his heart; the fact that he is able to look past the whole “she’s a vampire who kills people and sucks their blood” thing and look into her soul and see that she really is good inside – that is admirable, my friend.

What I loved about this movie was how it brought up questions like, what is evil and what is good? What does love look like? Can someone who does ‘evil’ things also have the ability to love and show kindness and self-sacrifice? Who is/are the villain(s) and who is/are the victim(s) in the story? The way I see it, although Abbey and her ‘Father’ had probably killed hundreds of people in violent and brutal ways, the ‘Father’ did it out of love, and Abbey did it out of the need to survive. The bullies, on the other hand, tortured and attempted to kill Owen out of pleasure, out of the desire to inflict suffering on another person. So who, in the end, is really evil? What does this even mean? Let Me In goes far and beyond the typical black and white story line of good vs. evil and allows the viewer to deal with all the grey areas, which really don’t have any clear cut answers. It really just teaches us to question any simplistic, preconceived notions that we hold and to reassess and consider that maybe the answers to such questions aren’t always as clear-cut.

Although Let Me In may be considered a dark and disturbing tale with more than a few scary, gruesome scenes… for me, it was really a story about unconditional love, self-sacrifice and loyalty; the agony of growing up and being different; and the innocence and purity of young love.

Although I haven’t seen the Swedish original, I thought Matt Reeves did a great job, despite the fact that a lot of the cinematography and scenes (apparently) are pretty much copies of the original. The film was still a visual feast to watch. I mean, when you have really good cinematography already, how are you supposed to firstly, make a remake of such a good film, and secondly, make it even better?!? It’s just impossible I think. So I’m sympathetic to Mr Reeves there. I enjoyed the film and I thought the storyline was original and the cinematography visually pleasing enough that I really didn’t care whether the film was “original” or not. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and to that I say, amen – all art is merely inspiration in the end.

Watch the trailer here.

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