Something In The Air
A semi-autobiographical drama from director Olivier Assayas set in 1970s Paris
American adaptation of the critically acclaimed Swedish vampire sensation Let The Right One In, from the director of Cloverfield
"Let. Me. In." The words pound like hammer blows on a Gothic iron door. Vampires aside, there's more than one person attached to Let Me In frantically requesting to be allowed across your threshold. First, there's director Matt Reeves, who, having scored a hit with 2008's Cloverfield, might have been expected to follow it up with something more original. The fact he chose to adapt novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist's excellent bestseller when an immensely respected foreign language movie version already exists struck many, initially, as pretty depressing.
Then there are Let Me In's co-producers at Hammer - a once legendary British studio and former watchword for horror, who failed to match the more lucrative New Wave of Stateside gore during the following decade and went all but bankrupt by 1980. Recently out of hibernation and clutching the rights to Lindqvist's novel, it's tempting to read the title as Hammer's plea to be allowed back into the game.
At any rate, none of this - nor an underwhelming, unrepresentative trailer - exactly instilled confidence. So it's a genuine pleasure to report that we can all put down our pitchforks and snuff out the torches. Deftly retaining its themes and soulful atmospheres, this second adaptation in no way disgraces the source material - and even injects it with some rich, full-bodied blood of its own.
As in the book and the first movie, when a strange little girl and her 'father' roll into town, a spate of serial murders follow, and a bizarre companionship is forged that will change at least one life forever. At its heart is a profoundly moving love story, focusing on the lengths people will go to protect a relationship.
Kodi Smit-McPhee (who played Viggo Mortensen's son in The Road) and Chloe Moretz (who caused such moral panic in the controversial Kick-Ass) are fantastic respectively as the lonely Owen and the even more isolated Abby, who can't remember her exact birthday, but appears to have been 12-years-old for quite some time.
In a shrewd move, Reeves keeps the story rooted in the early 1980s but relocates the action from a Swedish sink estate to an apartment complex in an equally wintry New Mexico, so that events are re-contextualised against an historic backdrop of intense paranoia and loathing - an era in which televised news bulletins regularly relay Ronald Reagan's crude cold war rhetoric. For Ronnie, 'evil' is an all too real force, capable of infecting entire Empires - in much the same way Abby will literally infect her temporary Los Alamos community of blue collar locals, God-fearing single mums, and monstrous school bullies (future Republicans, to a boy).
Other themes, such as absent parents, gender confusion and the importance of ritual, continually criss-cross, while events and characters mirror one another in subtle and intelligent ways. There's a thin skein of black comedy: "Do you think there is such a thing as evil?" Owen asks his divorced father over the phone. "Are you getting this from your mother?" comes the crackled reply. Elsewhere, the retro soundtrack rocks with silent laughter (Culture Club's 'Do you Really Want To Hurt Me').
If we're nitpicking, it does shave off some ambiguities, and generally makes the implicit explicit. Those over-the-top touches of CGI are jarring too, though not damagingly so; and, in any case, to remonstrate with the current visual language of American horror would be akin to trying to plug a BP oil spill with a travel tissue.
At time of writing, Stephen King - whose literary style the source text definitely owes something to - has called Let Me In "the best American horror film in the last 20 years". High praise indeed, considering that the past couple of decades have included two genuine classics adapted from the novels of... Stephen King: Misery and Frank Darabont's The Mist. Meanwhile, Lindqvist wonders whether he "might just be the luckiest writer alive" for having seen his debut novel turned into not one, but two excellent films.
In a perfect world, such endorsements would help to encourage healthy receipts. In reality, Let Me In has tanked, badly, at the US box office; its humiliation complete by being outsold by Case 39, a horror film so irredeemably bad ("a pile of steaming demon poo" I called it when reviewing it for this site) that Paramount shelved it for three years. Let's hope Let Me In doesn't suffer the same fate over here.
A remake that in no way soils its source and stands on its own two bare feet as a classy, nerve-jangling slice of horror. Come in, do!
Film4.com editor Catherine Bray takes in Steven Soderbergh's Behind The Candelabra, Jim Mickle's remake of We Are What We Are, Lucía Puenzo's Nazis-in-hiding adaptation and Mahamat Saleh Haroun's comp
Coming to cinemas, TV, DVD/Blu-ray, video-on-demand and Film4 Channel on July 5th is Ben Wheatley's latest, the Film4-backed A Field In England. And we're excited to unveil not only the new quad poste