When the inevitable American remake of Let the Right One In was announced, horror fanboys went berserk, understandably assuming it would be gored-up and dumbed-down. But mostly this didn't happen. Matt Reeves Let Me In is, on the whole, as atmospheric and patiently paced as the original, not to mention beautifully acted by its child stars. True: I don't like the super-quick CGI movement of the vampire here (not to mention the preposterous demonic voice we hear once or twice), but at the same time I found the original's sudden transitions from subtlety to gore a little jarring as well. But is there ultimately any reason to see this if you've seen the original, since much of it mirrors the original almost exactly? Probably not, except for maybe true horror fans, who can take consolation in the fact that Reeves seems to be a real filmmaker (something we couldn't quite gather from the herky-jerky Cloverfield). The scene that critics keep singling out (a bizarre POV shot with Richard Jenkins murdering someone in a car going backwards) truly is a memorable piece of horror filmmaking. Now let's hope he applies these skills to something we haven't seen before.
Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go is a serious, restrained science-fiction film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, but you might not gather this if you're not paying close attention to some of its trailers, which make it look like a period-piece coming-of-age flick (I predict some confused old people will NOT be happy with what they're witnessing). The film's "twist," such as it is, is being given away by most critics, but I won't reveal it here in case Matthew finally decides to go to the movies again. So I'll just say that the film works for me, carefully but never flashily integrating its sci-fi concepts into the love triangle at the center of the film (nicely played by Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightly, and new Spiderman Andrew Garfield). Some critics are faulting the film for not succeeding on an emotional level, and the middle section, especially, could benefit from being more fully fleshed out, but I found the film's final moments to be remarkably powerful, as Carey Mulligan's voice-over takes us from the personal to the universal, implicating us all in the issues at hand. The critical side of me knows it's one of those moments where the narration is telling us things that should be apparent enough at that point without further exegesis, but the rest of me, fully immersed in this film's world, struggled not to shed a tear or two. This will likely make my top ten.