MOVIE REVIEW – LET ME IN

October 25, 2010

Let Me In
Directed by Matt Reeves
Running Time: 116 Minutes

Rating System: 0 – 5 Bubbly Head Deaths with Zero being the lowest and five being the highest.

THE REVIEW

Let me just start off by saying I am very particular about movie vampires. I very much agree with Jack Crow’s views:

“…they’re not romantic. It’s not like they’re a bunch of #$%@in’ hoppin’ around in rented formal wear and seducing everybody in sight with cheesy Euro-trash accents, all right? Forget whatever you’ve seen in the movies…”

I never got into the Anne Rice Euro-fop scene. I didn’t watch Buffy or Angel. Embrace of the Vampire is a just awful (NOTE: I must admit that I do in fact have the DVD of that flick. But for one reason – Super hottie Alyssa Milano!) The Blade series was m’eh. The current sparkly, walk around in the daylight, teen angst vampires are right out.

See, I’ve never been able to see a vampire as a hero of the story. In my book, a being that hunts and kills humans is inherently evil, and the bad guy. And this concept that something that is undead (Note: that’s not living or dead. It’s undead, whatever that means) would still be driven by human needs and wants (love, sex, power) is foolish. It’s safe to say, I have a few issues about Drac and his pointy-toothed ilk. As my associate Joseph Martin Griffin, Esquire would say “I don’t have issues, I have the whole subscription.” And he’s not wrong.

Now, I’ve told you all that so I can tell you about this movie. First off, I really liked this film. It’s well made, well acted, and most of all, the vampire stays true to its nature. It kills for one reason: it kills for food. Let Me In is a remake of a Swedish film from 2008 called Let the Right One In. It’s about a 12-year old boy named Owen who is bullied and picked on at school. His life changes forever when Abby, a fellow 12-year old, moves in next door. Abby is different than the other kids. For one thing, she doesn’t go to school. She also walks around barefoot in the snow, and her ‘father’ (A great supporting performance by Richard Jenkins) goes out at night to find and kill some poor unsuspecting sap and drain his blood into a plastic jug to bring home for supper. Abby, you see, is a vampire. The two kids strike up an unusual friendship as the body count rises. Kodi Smit-McPhee does a great job portraying Owen as a kid who hasn’t hit his stride yet and doesn’t really fit in the world he’s in. Chloe Moretz, who most of you will recognize as Hit-Girl from Kick Ass, is superb as Abby. She gives off just the right amount of “that girl ain’t right” mixed with the awkward pre-teen girl vibe. The rest of the cast perform deftly. Besides the aforementioned Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas is quite good as the bewildered policeman, trying to make sense of all the death and violence erupting around him. And his “Hey, I’m in a horror movie!” moment comes at the exact right time. The film is well paced and edited and the ending is downright chilling – especially when you think of the future implications the last scene has for the characters.

GAME INSPIRATIONS FROM THE MOVIE

This film had several great sequences in it. These moments really stood out and allowed the film makers to shine. I’ll mention two.

Abby has just gone out looking for food. Her ‘father’ botched his attempt to bring home “Dinner” so she goes herself (NOTE: While it is bad manners to cry over spilt milk, spilt blood is apparently acceptable). She lures a passing jogger – who happens to live in the same apartment complex (this will be have consequences later on) — into a tunnel and kills him. We watch as the she lures her prey into the tunnel with some beautiful sound design as the audience hears her cries of “Help me” echoing along the stone tunnel. Once she is resting her head on his shoulder as he has picked her up to carry her home, she’s in perfect position to literally ‘go for the jugular.’ It’s a simple scene, but powerful. All at once we see that Abby is both a cold, calculating hunter and a throat-ripping blood covered monster.

The other sequence that I’ll mention occurs at the end of the film. Owen has a final showdown with the group of bullies at the public pool. One of them pushes him in and then holds his head under the water. The rest of the scene is from Owens’s perspective. Through the ‘lens’ of the water we see something is happening up top. We then begin to hear through the ‘filter’ of the water the screams of the bullies. The water begins to turn red and something falls into the water right next to Owen. It’s the main bully’s severed head! Then in quick succession we see the other kids (NOTE: Or maybe just parts of the other kids! I’m not entirely sure) being dragged through the water. We still hear the muffled screams, and sounds of action. Now, we all know that Abby is ‘saving’ Owen, but not once do we see who or what is causing this carnage. Owen finally breaks the surface of the water and discovers he is alone with the various limbs and parts of his four ex-tormentors. The entire sequence lasts maybe 15 seconds, but the top-notch visual construction matched by the sound design make it a show-stopper of the highest degree.

These sequences reminded me a lot about the best RPG’s I’ve been in. I’ve always believed that a carefully crafted encounter with the beastie is what makes the difference between a good game and a great one. Random monster tables have always seemed boring and stilted to me. It’s much better to make those moments really stand out. Players being players, they will always provide more than enough randomness for your games by doing something unexpected and unplanned-for. When I’m devising my story for the players, I always start with two or three beastie encounters. One or two of these scenes are for the early or mid-game portion, and one for the final showdown. These scenes are gonna happen during the story at some point. The players will only help determine when. Then I approach each one as a scene from a horror flick. I make sure I have all the details for each one worked out. What is the weather like? Is it indoors or out? Does this location have lots of clutter? Or is it big and empty with no where to hide? What do the players hear? The whine of nearby machinery or maybe just the simple sound of crickets chirping? Do these sounds eerily stop just before the beastie arrives? Also what is playing on the soundtrack? Once these “Scenes” have been crafted to my satisfaction, then I build the story around them. If you do it right, you will have a classic on your hands and the players will remember it forever. To this day I still hear from some of my old players about “that battle in the abandoned farm’s root cellar” from a game from about 15 years ago. The rest of the details of that game are a little fuzzy, but boy do they remember that ‘scene.’

‘Course, what do I know?

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