Posted on 10/04/10 01:16 AM
A Renfield parable, only told with pre-teens.
I'll be up front with saying that I have not watched the Swedish original, nor have I read the book both films are based on, although it's fairer to say that both films were made by people more interested in the relationship between the two main characters than much else of what was in the original story. Given what I have learned of the novel and the Swedish film following my viewing of Let Me In, I think this is perhaps a good thing.
I say this because I've been down that route before, as a reader and viewer. The stunted immortal yarn concerning vampire children has been explored, often with pedophilic subtext. The book, I'm told, contains these elements, and I've also been educated by a friend (a fan of the original, who appreciated this remake as a rare success, or as he worded it, "probably the purist, best version") even the Swedish film has one pivotal scene that is omitted from Let Me In and was absent in the film I watched...as was the incriminating context it raises. I know that I am thankful that it was, for while it would not have changed the very real affection these two character share for each other on screen (the acting is superb for this genre) it would have irreparably colored how I perceived the film, if only because it would put in my mind distracting questions that the story does better not to propose in the first place.
I refer to the scene with the "scar," which alludes to a kind of androgyny that is probably better as an unused element from the book, and if the Swedish film is as close to what Reeves has remade here then it sounds like enough of those elements were absent anyway, so why include it?
This is certainly a vampire movie, let me make that clear for the uninitiated. It is brutal when it needs to be. But it's also something else. There's always a bond between Vampire and Familiar that gets glossed over in film. The Renfields of cinema are more often one-note crazies than anything else. The core of the film focuses on this aspect and shows it in a way most other Vampire stories have little time for. There's some powerful stuff in the friendship that develops, in both the performances and what they implicate. I speak not only about the boy and his vampire girlfriend, but the man posing as her "Father." I noticed a detail in Abby's handwritten notes that show the kind of sophisticated penmanship that one can only get with age. By comparison, an early scene reveals a note left by "the father" that I saw only in the circumstance revealed to me at the time. But later, when this scene is revisited and the extent of the character's ability is shown (despite a particularly injury), the sloppy misspelling of a simple apology alludes to a very important character trait, and speaks to the kind of sacrifice a Renfield must give for his vampire.
There are subtle touches like these that leave a lot of room for thought. Is Abby's affection genuine, or is it a defense mechanism? A well-learned, well-disciplined defense mechanism? The film is smart in that it purposely fails to self-analyze. I recently saw a heist film during the summer months called Inception, you might have heard of it. I enjoyed it for what it was at the time, although not nearly as much as most people. But what that film lacked, this one has in spades. And that is subtle storytelling. Some might say this one is too subtle for their own good, but I liked it very much. The last vampire movie I saw prior to this one was Daybreakers, and it's good to know that despite the Blade-wannabees, the True Bloods (which I also enjoy, but for different reasons, least of all how it expands Vampire lore), and how vampires have been shown lately in a post-Twihard world, that meaningful storytelling on the subject can still be made.
It's not a scary movie, but I never really got the impression watching it that it was very interested in being one. The musical score certainly does not belong to a horror movie, and by the time the credits rolled I could not recall seeing a single slasher cliche.