Being an indignant response to the industry and critical prowess of my colleague, William Bibbiani, who shall remain nameless…
A certain writer for the California Literary Review has thoughtfully distilled a whole year of reviews, reactions, and reflections into two comprehensive and well-researched essays entitled “The 10 Best Movies of 2010” and “The 10 Worst Movies of 2010.” Having been too shiftless to organize a retrospective list of my own, I take grave exception.
One of the most entertaining movies of the year failed to rouse sufficient praise or sufficient scorn in his heart to make either list. In point of fact, it hardly matters which. Let Me In will not perish in mediocre obscurity as long as I have anything to say about it, as it will hopefully be many a long year before I perish in mediocre obscurity.
One of the first new productions of the curiously undead Hammer studio, this adaptation of the Swedish book Låt den rätte komma in followed closely on the heels of a Swedish film version of the same name. In most cases this is a terrible, or at least moderately bad, idea. We all remember America’s brief love affair with remaking Japanese horror movies, which had mixed results but ultimately wore out its welcome. Occasionally a talented director can take a clever premise and unpack it in new and fascinating ways, as Martin Scorsese did with Infernal Affairs to make his crime epic The Departed. Just as often, imprudent filmmakers give birth to colossal flops like The Vanishing.
Let Me In is not by any stretch the kind of sweeping overhaul that The Departed was. In fact, whether it is an honest re-adaptation of the source novel or simply a glossy re-shoot of the Swedish film is very much open to debate. In either case it stands quite solidly on its own. It did not prop itself lamely on the accolades of its predecessor, but instead forged ahead with its own style choices and a positively arresting ad campaign. It is not without its flaws, but for moody atmosphere and weighty moral themes one could scarcely do better.
The film is stark, brutal, and depressing, and yet also possessed of deep, earnest beauty. This is more like real life than many of us would care to admit. It works as a flesh-and-blood monster tale, and also as any number of addiction allegories – love, sex, drugs, ultraviolence – to which viewers may care to relate. You may find it hard to watch, but if you allow the drama to draw you in, you may also find it profoundly moving.
A hasty, unverified survey of free online resources indicates that Let Me In received high marks from such horror authorities as Stephen King, Bloody-Disgusting.com, and The Wall Street Journal. Roger Ebert – or a clever impostor at the Chicago Sun-Times – called it not only a “vampire movie” but also a “good film.” What further criteria can there be in taking a strong position for or against it?
This movie has the power to ensnare and seduce the imagination, yet in the absence of the slightest Oscar buzz it may fail to make a lasting imprint on a year in which it should rightfully stand out. The Oscars lost their way for good the year that Ben Kingsley was up for his supporting role in Sexy Beast. As you may recall, the award went to Jim Broadbent instead, for a film which I did not see and which consequently does not matter.
That is as may be, so let us return briefly to the point. This trifle will not stand. Based on his refusal to come into line with my way of thinking, I deduce that my colleague is either mad, or did not see the film in question. In which case he is most likely mad. Whatever denial or invective he may offer in his defense, I stand firm behind this cheap blind-side ambush. We must give our all for that which touches us most deeply.