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Deja-vu vampire remake has no bite

Let Me In: Rates a D+.
Courtesy photo

Watching this horror movie, I immediately realized something. Americans get very scared of one thing. And that is subtitles.

There’s really no other reason for the remake of Sweden’s Let the Right One In, only a few years later. It’s almost a scene-for-scene remake, the way Vince Vaughn’s Psycho was (where was Anderson Cooper to complain about that?)

I remember when I was 12, and the cool older boy on the street always had the best new rock songs. He was playing Van Halen’s “Pretty Woman” and I commented on the original by Roy Orbison. This kid said “Yeah, well…Eddie Van Halen can shred so much better than Orbison on guitar.”

I wasn’t the best debater at that age, or I would’ve said that Orbisons vocals could “shred” David Lee Roth’s. I simply said “What’s the point of doing the song and having it sound so similar?”

Roth would get it right 20 years later on his first solo record, with a cover version of Tobacco Road, but I digress.

I didn’t care for the movie Kick Ass, but I thought Chloe Moretz was great in it as “Hit Girl.” And she’s great in this as the vampire (they left out the scene that had the close-up, showing a scar where the penis used to be). She did tell the boy she’s “not a girl.”

I also understand, from someone that had read the book, both films have left the relationship the vampire has with the adult male in her life (apparently it was an exchange of child molestation the man gets out of it, in exchange for bringing her blood).

Hey…the Psycho remake had one scene different from the original – Vince Vaughn masterbating while watching her in the hotel. Maybe this movie could’ve given us those child molestation scenes, to add at least something different.

Richard Jenkins, who you can always count on, is fine in his role as the guardian.

Kodi Smit-McPhee, the boy that’s picked on and befriended by the vampire, is perfectly cast.

And speaking of perfect, since the original was a good film, maybe it would’ve been silly to make a completely different film. I’m wondering then, why Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) didn’t add anything to this. He creates the great atmosphere we had in the original, and a nice sense of melancholy. There were some beautifully shot scenes in the snow.

Why not make some scary moments, where we jump out of our seat? There wasn’t one scary thing in this.

Why not have special effects that aren’t horribly done? I’m talking about the few times the vampire attacks. In the original, it’s kind of scary. And you don’t see a lot (one time, all shadows). In this, it reminded me of the bad effects you see in a movie from the 1970s.

A few other scenes I wondered about – when Moretz was wearing a KISS shirt and started bleeding from the face (since the boy didn’t “invite” her inside). Why the KISS shirt? They used to spit blood, sure; but I think it would’ve been funnier to either use a contemporary band like Vampire Weekend (get it?) or, since this vampire looks 12 but is probably 212, a concert T-shirt from someone like Stravinksy. Maybe I’ll save that for when I do a remake of it.

I’d definitely do the pool scene with the bullies, because it was one of the best scenes I had seen in a movie that year. It wasn’t horrible in this version, but the first one just packed such a punch. It makes me mad that I have to be that person that says, “Just see the original.” I think a lot of people (especially film buffs) love to go down that path.

I remember in the '70s watching Heaven Can Wait and Invasion of the Body Snatches. It would be a two decades later that I saw the originals from the early '40s and mid '50s (they didn’t hold up as well).

I remember loving the BBC version of The Office, and buying all the DVDs. Yet, the first season of the American version, I told my friends, “It’s as funny as the original.”

But if you remake a movie from a few years ago, and do nothing different – well, you can’t say it’s as good. It’s simply a copy, nothing more.

It doesn’t have the bite (pun intended) of the first, or the subtlety. There wasn’t a slow build of tension. And that’s fine, but then go down that different path. Give us a good, scary vampire movie? Have a few things jump out at us and give us some chills.

If I was a teacher and grading a students paper, I’d have to give this an F for plagiarizing a previously written work. Filmmakers don’t have to follow any special rules. It’s just a matter of whether or not the critics will recommend the work. This movie is getting great reviews, which surprises me.

I can only give it a D+ (the original gets a B for doing the same things, but first and slightly better).