Let Me In

Matt Reeves Directing

When it was first announced that 20th Century Fox was making a prequel to Planet of the Apes that would star James Franco and a CG ape, not too many people welcomed the news with a whole lot of optimism. But once Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit theaters, it ended up blowing most everyone who saw it away. Director Rupert Wyatt took a less than appealing idea for a movie and ended up telling the sort of affecting, personal story that tentpole blockbusters rarely end up pulling off. So it was kind of heartbreaking to learn that Wyatt wasn’t going to be returning for the sequel and Fox was looking at a shortlist of directors to replace him. It turns out things might not be as bad as they originally looked though, because ComingSoon is reporting that the studio has found their Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, and at first glance he appears to be a perfect replacement. The guy is Matt Reeves.

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We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Based on the novel “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist the film Let Me In is relocated from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a friendless boy, a victim of bullies at school. Not a day goes by when he isn’t pushed, shoved, harassed and threatened. With no one to turn to, not a friend, or teacher, not even his parents who are consumed by a bitter divorce, Owen retreats into  violent fantasies of revenge. One night a man (Richard Jenkins) and his daughter Abby (Chloe Moretz) move into the apartment complex and Owen becomes curious about the girl who only comes out at night, sits in the cold with no shoes or coat, but seems untouched by the frigid New Mexico winter. She looks ragged, she smells bad, her hair is lank and her are eyes dull. But even so, Owen is drawn to her. The next time he sees her she’s been transformed, no longer sickly looking, she looks like a pretty little girl. Owen will learn she’s without a doubt different from any girl he’s ever met.

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The recent revelation that Chris Columbus will be producing a US-based, English-language remake of Troll Hunter was met with everything from mild irritation to outright derision. A typical report of the news included 1) a statement that the original is great/awesome 2) a question of whether this really needed a remake 3) a comment that Hollywood was craven and unoriginal and, for a select few pieces, 4) swear words. My own take was fairly neutral (much like my reaction to Andre Ovredal‘s film), which prompted at least half an email asking me why I was giving this one a pass after years of making up clever insults at the expense of anyone attempting a remake. After some soul-searching, it was clear that I had either made peace with the recent glut of remakes or been beaten into submission by it. Either way, I’m tired of complaining about remakes, and here’s why.

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Move over Snow White: there’s another literary character on the block looking to get a million film projects made about his trials and tribulations, and his name is Victor Frankenstein. It was just earlier today when we reported (with a surprisingly similar headline) on an adaptation of a Frankenstein-themed novel being put together by Sam Raimi, and now there’s more news about another being made by Summit Entertainment. This Dark Endeavor will be an adaptation of a Kenneth Oppel novel that is fully titled “This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein.” While Raimi’s project explores the friendship between Frankenstein and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Summit’s story is about Frankenstein trying to save the life of his twin brother. In order to do so he must find an old alchemist, hang out with his brother’s main squeeze, and go on a dangerous journey to find the components for the Elixir of Life. There promises to be action, adventure, and a love triangle. Not bad for a book about a doctor. The best news about this project is that Let Me In director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct. When I first heard that Hollywood was remaking Let the Right One In, I spent about ten minutes puking in a trashcan, but Reeves actually did a really good job with it. I went into that film feeling a strong bias against its very existence and came out thinking that it had matched the original in many ways and even surpassed it […]

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Culture Warrior

This editorial features some spoilers for Hanna and Kick-Ass. Consider yourself warned. In preparation for this post I ran a quick Internet search on child assassins and found this video from New York Magazine. While I wasn’t promised a video exclusively on child assassins here, and instead got something that explores the notion of child killers at large, this video conflates two categories of child killers that I think deserve remarkably different types of consideration. The great majority of killings performed by children in this video are from horror movies. From Rosemary’s Baby to The Omen to The Brood to Firestarter to the other Omen and beyond, the child/killer is an exhaustively repeated horror trope to the point of cliche (and is often confused with the simple overlapping category of “scary children,” like in The Shining and The Sixth Sense). But every so often a child-killer horror film comes along that works in line with the formula (The Children, anyone? Bueller? Okay, how about Let Me In?), reminding us why child killers still have the capacity to be engrossing and entertaining even if they’ve lost the ability to be outright horrifying: because they play on our society’s veneration of childhood innocence, replacing the ignorant bliss of childhood with benevolent, malicious intent to do harm to the much taller individuals that surround them. But child assassins are quite different from the overall category of child killers. And while two recent films in two subsequent spring movie seasons that feature child assassins, […]

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Universal has signed Cloverfield and Let Me In director Matt Reeves to helm a new science-fiction film. Reeves will be adapting a famous Ray Nelson short story called “8 O’Clock in the Morning,” which tells the tale of a man who wakes up one morning and suddenly realizes that a lot of the people around him are secretly aliens, and that they’re controlling the planet. If that sounds a little bit familiar to you, it might be because “8 O’Clock in the Morning” is also the story that inspired the John Carpenter-helmed, Rowdy Roddy Piper starring, B-Movie classic They Live. This isn’t going to be a remake of Carpenter’s film, but instead a more faithful adaptation of the original source material. While Carpenter’s character used special glasses that allowed him to see the existence of aliens, the protagonist of “8 O’Clock in the Morning” has a much more psychological, nightmarish relationship with his newly discovered alien overlords. Reeves says that, “Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a Roman Polanski-style film.” I liked what Reeves did exploring the emotional side of things and various nightmare experiences in Let Me In, so I think this project sounds like it could be very cool. Producer Eric Newman says that Reeves was the right man for this job because of his use […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray is back again with a massive slate of releases. You’d think that it’s about to be Christmas time around here with the amount of quality Blu-rays spilling into stores. Everything from a beautiful edition of a Disney classic (seen below in the new Pick of the Week section) to another institutional Criterion release, combined with a chance for home video buyers to see some of last year’s more interesting indies. In column news: I’m taking your comment section silence to mean that you like the new format, so I’m sticking with it. But enough talk, lets make with the recommendations. Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition Call me a victim of nostalgia — or a man of taste — but the bitterness of seeing Tim Burton take the care of a baby rhinoceros in a chandelier shop with the story of Alice in Wonderland this year made me sad. Someday, much to the benefit of movie lovers everywhere, that guy will realize that you can’t just take Johnny Depp, some pastels and a little bit of weird and make a good film. Especially if you do it in mind-numbingly bad 3D. Which brings us to the point — Disney has released their now 60-year old Alice in Wonderland tune on Blu-ray. And like many of its animated catalog titles, the color and detail of the hand-drawn tale is brilliant in high definition. It’s supplemented with great extras, new and old. Among the new are two interactive […]

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This Week in DVD

This is a busy and full week for DVD releases with a common theme… many of them are movies you’ve probably heard of over the past year, but judging by their minuscule box-office you most likely didn’t see any of them. The other common theme? Pretty much none of them are as good as the internet told you they were. I know. It’s shocking. But sometimes the internet does in fact tell lies. Titles out this week include The Tillman Story, Conviction, Let Me In, Hatchet II, Welcome To the Riley’s, Never Let Me Go, Monsters, and more.

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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There are two reasons why looking at the best movie posters is fascinating. The first is the inherent interest that all advertising brings. It’s art that’s meant to sell something that can’t admit it’s trying to sell anything in order to succeed. The second is that rating the best of the best in the poster world has the most potential to showcase films that never end up on lists this time of year. This is a celebration of the beauty and effect that movie posters can have. It’s for the films released in 2010, and it’s the posters from the studios (or else Tyler Stout and Olly Moss would completely dominate). The awards are broken up into five categories in order to recognize the wide array of styles and concepts, and because there were a lot of great posters this year (among the absolutely terrible photoshop jobs that still haunt us). See if your favorite made the cut.

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If you thought we were meta enough with our list of best editorials, you were wrong. You were also wrong about that pub quiz question you missed last night but kept claiming, “the wording was confusing.” That’s okay. Soothe your second place loss to the “Long Beach Pub All Stars” by digging in deep to this list of lists. What criteria did we use to pick them? Simple. The key was finding those lists which acted as a catalyst for discussion, for reverie, for passion, and for self-reflection. The subjects might seem ridiculous, but there’s nothing like looking back on the year and seeing where movies took our minds. Time to get meta and do our part to bring about that ETEWAF Patton Oswalt keeps talking about.

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Being a heavy horror fan is a tough gig. Most producers look at horror as a quick buck genre, a franchise to be used, abused, ridden hard and put up wet to make a profit. They don’t really care too much about putting out quality product, instead they just opt for product. Or at least that’s how it seems. 2010, to me at least, felt like one of the weakest years on record for horror. I thought last year was bad, but then the past 350 some odd days happened. I’m pretty confident I could say that this is the worst year for horror since the birth of Film School Rejects. It felt that bad. Regardless of my own disappointment in the movies this year, and in myself for missing a few releases, I scrapped the bottom of the barrel barren and plucked out ten (plus one!) [that means 11] horror movies that aren’t complete wastes of your time. Then again, you might just be better off buying all the Roger Corman Cult Classics for sale from Shout! Factory.

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The Reject Report

Now I lay me down to sleep, yadda yadda yadda, Wes Craven’s still making movies. His latest hits this weekend, it’s in RealD, so you know it’s good, and it’s headed up against two films that probably have 100% less dismemberment and graphic violence against teens. Those movies, Life As We Know It and Secretariat (okay, there could be a subplot about that horse trampling some teens, and that would win it a few more fans), will more than likely favor better than My Soul to Take, but the real question is if any of them have the strength to take Fincher’s The Social Network off its friend-requesting mountaintop.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them by now. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of September searching EBSCO Host, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of peanut butter and marshmallows to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in October. Wondering why it’s a few days late? Because we don’t run it until it’s perfect. Or something. Anyway, just check out the movies to see what you wanna see.

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Let Me In has the tough distinction of not only being a remake (or a recent second adaptation of a novel, if you want to look at it that way), but of being a remake of an incredibly popular cult horror film that only came out a few years ago. Still, even with that hurdle, director Matt Reeves sought to tackle the problems of adolescence, young love, and bloodlust with his version. I got a chance to sit down with him and lead actor Kodi Smit-McPhee to talk about tonal connections to Wong Kar-wai, choosing brutal acting roles, and the most popular method of securing the blood we so desperately need as fuel. Special thanks to Luke Mullen for editing.

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The Policeman is a cypher. It’s a character that has practically everything going on internally. On the outside, he seems like a run-of-the-mill cop, but he isn’t. There’s a genuine warmth and sadness to Elias Koteas’ performance in Let Me In. He’s someone who’s way in over his head and doesn’t grasp what’s really going on. In any other film this would’ve been the character trying to ruin the kid’s fun and more so played as a villain, but he’s not. If anything, The Policeman is the most sympathetic character on screen. He never does anything wrong and there’s nothing morally questionable about him, unlike every other character in the film. Let Me In is an odd film in that it isn’t completely black and white. Nobody is singled out as good or bad, except perhaps The Policeman, who also plays into some very subtle religious undertones as well. Koteas brings a sympathy to a character that easily could’ve been played as the bad guy. Here’s what Elias Koteas had to say about his role in Let Me In, satanism, and working with some of the most talented directors still working today.

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Boiling Point

Oh remakes. Certainly tons and tons have already been written about them. My hat’s in that ring too. I’ve said a few things here and there, though often I’ve gone against the grain. I don’t hate remakes. Some movies can be done better. When that’s the case, why not give it a shot? Did anyone think Mother’s Day was untouchable? Of course not. Then again, certain films can’t be made better. John Carpenter’s The Thing, itself a remake, is practically a perfect film. For now, classics like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind remain untouched, and that’s good. The odds of anyone making those particular stories better are low. Then there are the foreign films. Despite Rob Hunter’s best efforts, wide audiences aren’t really that interested in reading subtitles. Some films do quite well for themselves with subtitles, but whether it’s the audience or just the studios, subtitles don’t sell. So foreign films generally get short theatrical runs and DVD releases. If you want to see that story on the big screen, generally someone has to remake it. Or hey, there are plenty of completely unknown foreign films that are dug up and the stories remade, without many people even knowing that film already existed somewhere else. The point is this: sometimes remakes make sense. Sometimes they’re good. But in the modern age, with that series of tubes called the internet and a massive selection of titles available on DVD, domestic and imported, the speed at which films are being […]

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The Week That Was

Fantastic Fest. Perhaps one of the busiest times of the year here on Film School Rejects. In which we cover a bunch of films from around the world, all of which are more likely to fade into the ether before they ever make it to your local cineplex. In fact, so many of the films that we’ve reviewed (with more to come) here in Austin won’t see distribution at all. It’s sad, but true. However, that won’t deter us from covering Fantastic Fest every single year. Why? Because it’s an amazing festival — perhaps the most unique and fan-driven in the entire world — and we’ve got a passion for these movies. The best of them are more than worth the time and effort it will take for you to seek them out. Trust us, we know what we’re talking about. Especially that Rob Hunter guy… And so begins the story of The Week That Was here on FSR….

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr strikes out against… well, pretty much everyone reviewing movies by taking issue with The Social Network. Sue him if you don’t agree, or friend him at Facebook.com/FatGuysattheMovies. But while he cringes under the weight of Jesse Eisenberg’s smug Michael Cera impression, he also rejoices in October being officially here and all the horror movies the month of Halloween promises to bring. Up first, he cowers in a dark theater to the likes of Let Me In and Case 39.

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It’s cold, and there’s blood on the ground. There are empty streets to get lost in, but there’s a monster on the loose. Let Me In is nearly relentless in its tone of isolation and the chance of finding friendship in the eye of the puberty hurricane. There are few warm moments that emerge out of the kid’s eye view, and they’re as beautiful as the silence. In fact, the whole movie is an exercise in the careful crafting of something we can all relate to by using something none of us can. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is bullied at school, left alone by a mother more wrapped up in her own impending divorce, and concerned mostly with eating Now And Laters and acting tough with a kitchen knife in front of his mirror. Abby (Chloe Moretz) moves into the building, and Owen’s life changes. He has finally found a friend. And that friend needs blood to survive.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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