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Films Review: Let The Right One In Vs Let Me In

28 August, 2016

let the right one in vs let me in

Boy Meets Girl. Girl Turns Out To Be A Vampire. Aren’t They Bloody All One Way Or Another? Badum tish.

Both Let The Right One In and Let Me In have been reissued on DVD for the bargain price market, so there’s incentive enough to give each a try.

The same story, the same movie?

Not quite.

The same quality? Definitely not.

It’s very much The Done Thing to say the original European version of the movie (or Japanese, Korean, Indian, Burkina Fasoian, etc) is fabulous, genre defining, all the superlatives one can muster.

Whereas the Hollywood version is trash, plays to the lowest common denominator, lacks the subtle nuances which makes the original such a classic.

The usual Guardian reading, cappuccino and latte sipping hipster bullshit.

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To be sure, the evidence for the prosecution is damning enough. The Franco-Dutch Spoorloos, one of the most disturbing films ever made, was so badly remade as The Vanishing by the same director, it came as little surprise that George Sluizer confessed later he attempted deliberately to lampoon ‘the Hollywood style’ from annoyance at the studio’s insistence at including every old thriller trope in the big budget rehash. Penelope Cruz was all that was left of Abre los Ojos when it became Vanilla Sky and the Ham Pack of Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Kurt Russell made the proverbial pig’s breakfast out of another script.

Give a Hollywood studio an acclaimed success from a foreign land, and they will turn Le Cordon Bleu into the celluloid equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. It’s a cold day in Hell when the reverse is true – which is appropriate for two films set in snowy climes, albeit the notion of New Mexico deep in snow takes some swallowing.

During his review of Let Me In, Sukhdev Sandhu of the British Daily Telegraph spoke of Let The Right One In‘s  ‘alluring otherness’, ‘brittle textures and haunted ambiance’ in a review that stank to the highest heaven of that inverted racism beloved of pseudo-intellectual journos of the ‘this is better because it’s from a non-English speaking culture’ school – the sort of pretentious shit you’d come to expect from The Guardian, not its arch-enemy the Daily Dreadnought.

It’s clear he never bothered watching Let Me In. For there is no way anyone could watch the two without coming out in favour massively for the Hollywood remake, not even if you’re Swedish.

The basic plot

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Oskar/Owen is a school bullied boy in a hick town in a depression estate of apartment blocks. His parents are separated and in the case of the American movie have all the warmth of microwaved chicken. Slowly going off the rails from an interest in serial killers (primarily because he wants to kill the bullies), he encounters Eli/Abby whilst taking out one of his budding sociopath fantasies with a knife out on a tree. She informs him they cannot be friends, but, well, ya know…

Eli/Abby however harbours a dark secret. The man she lives with (in the original a paedophile called Håkan forever hoping she’ll let him abuse her one day in return for his servitude to her, in the American a man called Thomas you suspect is a paedophile throughout the film until you learn the heartbreaking truth later) is her Familiar, the volunteer servant of a vampire.

People start dying. Other people start getting suspicious. In the Swedish version a bunch of Oskar and Eli’s neighbours catch her in the act; in the American version, a local detective starts to realise there’s something more sinister than a local serial killer at work. Eli/Abby, in her desperation for blood her familiar fails to provide, starts getting careless, especially when – in a moment lifted straight from the classic Nosferatu – Oskar/Owen cuts his hand and Eli/Abby reveals her true self. Eventually she’s forced to kill, or be killed, when her familiar dies and she’s left all alone, and so flees town.

Meanwhile at school, Oskar/Owen has put one over the bullies (largely from Eli/Owen’s encouragement). In a banal piece of reality over the fantasy that hitting the bully back makes them pick a new target, they carry out an elaborate reprisal attack on Oskar/Owen to the point he almost drowns – in comes Eli/Abby as the Deus Ex Machina. Good guys win. Bad guys get dismembered; and Oskar/Owen flees with Eli/Abby on a very comfortable looking train to start their new itinerant lives together.

Not so comfortable for Eli/Abby though as she’s locked in a trunk tapping Morse Code to her new Familiar. That’s the problem with these last minute package deals on rail, you might find yourself getting Jeremy Corbyned.

Method of slaughter

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Let The Right One In trips up from the start where Håkan, Eli’s Familiar (the person that does the vampire’s dirty work) renders a victim unconscious with halothane before stringing them up to bleed down to a funnel inside a plastic container.

The container is never going to hold even a quarter of the person’s blood, which seems silly considering the risk being taken and how fast a still living person will bleed after having any arteries severed means each kill would be maximised for returns.

But aside from that, the very idea of the Familiar using a general anaesthetic rather than blunt trauma to render helplessness is absurd, and it’s bizarre those choosing to praise the Swedish film over the American have glossed over the original falling for the Hollywood myth of the almost instantaneous incapacitating anaesthetic – that’s before even delving into the technical fact that blood reeking of anaesthetic reeking is likely to make our young vampire as sick as anaesthetised meat would any mortal since such chemical agents tend to turn into something even more unpleasant inside the body.¹

For a vampire or their familiar, speed is everything – making the kill, hiding the evidence and getting away as quickly and quietly as possible. Let Me In at least gets that part right from the start.

Special effects

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Much has been made of the ‘minimalism’ of the Swedish original, yet the CGI cat attack – more hilarious than horrific, indeed one of the unintentionally funniest moments of any movie – is far more over the top than anything Let Me In attempts, and the silly Freddy Krueger results of the self-inflicted sulphuric acid in the Swedish version – yes, more horrific and completely unrealistic (did the producer forget pictures of acid attack victims are almost a tabloid staple?) give the impression they’d like to go over the top if they only had the resources of Hollywood.

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What Let Me In does in terms of special effects (the inevitable spectacular car crash, the vampire moves at The Matrix speed, etc) at least it does well, and with some degree of decorum. The subject matter is horrific enough. Abby’s transformation momentarily into a vicious killer contasts with Eli, who doesn’t look like she could knock the skin off a rice pudding even when she is killing someone.

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The protagonists

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But the biggest problem between the two movies is the acting. Forget the language difference – once you know the story line you don’t really need to bother with the subtitles if you can’t understand Swedish (a movie is supposed to show, not tell). The flatpack truth is Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz are far better than Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson, the latter two having the acting abilities of an Ikea Self Assembly, Kåre Hedebrant being the worse by a country mile.

It’s not ‘minimalism’ when your acting ability has the emotional range of some college coursework piece stuck on You Tube, it’s plain old not being very good – and had this been done by English speaking actors in an English speaking film, they’d have been roundly and rightly slaughtered for it.

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By contrast, anyone failing to shed a tear over Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz’s performances hasn’t any heart in them, with some beautiful moments of pathos, especially the ‘let me in’ scene and the aftermath of the murder in the bathroom when Abby – speaking not a word – puts her arms around a traumatised back-turned Owen that pleads silently ‘please don’t reject me, despite this, please don’t hate me’ – and still ends up running away because she accepts it’s unfair to expect anyone else to share the burden of her cursed existence the way Thomas did.

Little of the main cast for the Swedish original are in fact any good – save for the cat collecting dude and his circle of friends. The bullies have little menace or ability to install any hatred towards their inevitable sticky end denouement –  seeing the brightly lit swimming pool tastefully adorned with bloodstains and random body parts, the feeling is, ‘um, that was a bit harsh.’

In the American version they succeed in suspending your credulity to the way Abby tears them all limb from limb (and head from body), let alone your morality that perhaps bust noses and kicks in the nuts all round would have sufficed. Even though they’ve done little different to their Swedish counterparts, in this instance there is the overall impression the world will be a much nicer, kinder place for them not being allowed to grow up in it. You can almost forgive Abby for the evil she’s done before. Almost.

‘Stop stranger, as you pass by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you shall be. So prepare thyself to follow me.’

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Let Me In also includes that dynamite moment Let The Right One In does not – the photograph of the Familiar Thomas as a young boy with the vampire he loved and ultimately gave his life for, the shattering moment that brings home so powerfully that for Owen this is the life to come should he chose to remain with Abby, a miserable life moving from place to place, always watching for the sunrise, always staying one step ahead of the police, living off what they can scavenge from their victims because holding down a job is of course impossible, until the day comes he too will be too old or too impaired and all he will have left to give Abby is one last meal.

It’s with this in the back of the mind that Abby’s return to save Owen from the bullies (after fleeing because she does not want to ruin his life the way she ruined Thomas’s) is far more powerful than Eli’s in the original. Eli’s reason for return is cold and methodical – her paedophile familiar is dead, she needs a replacement, Oskar will do (despite that he can barely look after himself).

Abby by contrast has spent the entire movie saying and behaving in a tragic ‘go away, I need you’ manner to Owen whom she can promise but a lifetime of misery and apprehension. She knows she’s only going to make him miserable. He was miserable before she came along, true, and will ultimately be even more miserable upon her departure, but at least his school years and the bullying going with it will eventually end, and he will be free to make a new life afresh in the adult world. This the far old Abby knows from experience. She also knows she cannot survive in the world on her own.

She goes with him to the amusement arcade. She tries his sweets when she sees refusing hurts his feelings, even though she knows it will only make her very sick, and apologies to him when she does vomit later – in truth she’s apologising to him for more than a thrown up candy, but for coming in and messing up his messed up enough life and giving him someone to care about in a world that doesn’t care for him.

She tries to fit into his world. Oh, how she tries – even though past experience will have shown her how doomed the prospect is. She wants to be normal again. More than this, she wants to love one of those which to her have merely become dinner. For all that Abby can hand out Whoop-Ass like a pro, she has no protection from a permanent broken heart for her own destroyed life and the lives she is doomed in turn to destroy. Eli by contrast seems nonchalant to her condition, apart from bursting into tears upon killing her first victim in the underpass.

Why New Mexico beats Stockholm

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Forget horror. Despite the bloody corpses, despite the dismembered bodies a-go-go at the end, these aren’t horror films.

They’re not even romantic films, despite the tagging. They’re more explorations of the human condition, especially that of need; whether emotional, material, or both at once. This is usually the field European cinema excels and Hollywood embarrasses.

Ultimately it’s what makes the characters within the American version so real, and the Swedish version so utterly flat. There is more said about the human condition between Abby and Owen than between Oskar and Eli – in fact more also said between Abby and Thomas than between Eli and Håkan. The relationship between a vampire and their Familiar is a crucial one, yet in the Swedish original this is barely touched upon despite taking up a sizeable part of the book.

The book the movies derive from may be taken from a song by The Smiths, but the Waterboys song ‘The Three Day Man’ probably has more in common with the plots of Let The Right On In/Let Me In.

People snatch instinctively for whatever crutch they need
But I promise not to abuse you If you don’t abuse me.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be your slave
It doesn’t mean you’re here to stay
It doesn’t mean we’re friends for life
You know I want you, you know that I love you

But I’ll never need you anyway.

Notes:

¹ In Madelaine Bunting’s history ‘The Model Occupation’ on life in the Channel Islands during World War Two, one family tried chloroforming the family pig they’d kept hidden from requisition by the Nazis, so no passing soldier would hear its death squeals as they slaughtered it. The entire family was rendered extremely ill from the subsequent meal as the anaesthetic turned into phosgene in the carcass, poisoning them.

The Problems With Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

1 August, 2016

harry potter and the cursed child book

After reading it through twice now (you can do it in about three hours flat easy), some initial thoughts (to add to as and when they pop up).

Voldermort’s Love Child

The central plank and the silliest. Beyond silly in fact – Rowling stealing from Ira Levin’s The Boys From Brazil about supposed children of Hitler and showing she has no clue what to do with the Harry Potter series other than run along the tired plot line of goodies versus baddies.

In the middle of Voldermort’s first war with the original Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry of Magic, and having no history of any interest in matters of the flesh, Voldermort cuckolds one of his most trusted allies, impregnates his wife Bellatrix Lestrange, and the entire of his Death Eaters are supposed to have been happy with this?

Such actions would be more likely to lead to lost support from those deciding that their undying loyalty to the Pure Blood cause did not come with Voldermort being granted carnal rights with their family members at will. Severus Snape turned spy merely because Voldermort threatened the life of his unrequited love Lily Potter.

To give some examples from the real world, the Branch Davidians Waco cult began first falling apart when husbands objected to their wives being used as the receptacles for David Koresh’s seed; similarly the People’s Temple under the equally evil Jimmie Jones. Even the most charismatic or despotic leader can push their followers too far.

What logic would Voldermort have for such an action anyway? An heir? He was going to live forever via his Horcruxes, remember? Why would he want to procreate a potential rival to his supremacy for malcontented Death Eaters to rally around seventeen years (the wizarding world’s age of ascent) later?

Hermione Grainger as Minister of Magic

This one does not make sense. While the Wizarding world of Harry Potter is no democracy, and the British Ministry of Magic little more than a dictatorship by Civil Service without any checks or balances to its power, there is no way someone like Hermione Grainger would make it to the top.

Not because of her Muggle parentage, nineteen years after Voldermort’s vanquishment it would be expected that the Ministry of Magic would see such an appointment as a fine show of how much the British wizarding world had changed for the better.

Hermione Grainger would not get the job for the simple reason the Minister of Magic has to be able to work with people and get along with them, and this was one field where she continually tripped up.

Severus Snape accused her of taking pleasure in being an insufferable know it all in Prisoner of Azkaban, and he wasn’t far wrong. Every waking moment of her life when not learning appears dedicated to demonstrating to lesser mortals ‘I’m smart and you’re not’ – two books on from Prisoner of Azkaban later she treats Luna Lovegood like dirt, putting her down at every opportunity over her bizarre beliefs.

By the end of Deathly Hallows, little of her sense of self-righteous intellectual superiority over all has changed since Chamber of Secrets.  It is equally apparent she doesn’t love Ron Weasley, she loves her sense of superiority over him, as demonstrated by her sense of shock whenever he does something clever – despite being a brilliant chess player. 

In all likelihood it would have been Percy Weasley – who combined ruthless ambition with making mistakes and learning from them. He’s shown humility with his fallibility when he originally backed the Ministry over his family regarding Voldermort’s return.

Grainger by contrast developed a petted lip over being poor at Divination (eventually storming out in a huff) and over Harry’s potions book which made him the best in his year at Potions thanks to Severus Snape’s additional comments. In the latter case she demanded he get rid of it, similarly when he acquired the Marauder’s Map whilst keeping quiet about her own Time Turner from the Ministry. Clearly she doesn’t like anyone having access to knowledge and powers she does not. After the disaster which was Cornelius Fudge, would the Minister appoint another control freak who refuses to ever accept others may know better?

Scorpius Malfoy

Scorpius Malfoy is grandad Lucius’ worst nightmare – and in some respects The Cursed Child’s. Like Luna Lovegood in Order Of The Phoenix, he’s the breakout character J K Rowling badly underestimated the ultimate impact of.

Witty, nerdy, self-deprecating, fiercely loyal to his friends (even after they’ve seriously hacked him off) to the point he’ll risk his life for them without a second thought, even when they’re being so utterly stupid no one would blame him for walking away.

Even indeed to the extent it is to his everlasting advantage to walk away. Scorpius is presented at one stage with a glorious future where he is the Scorpion King of all he surveys, which reflexively repulsed by the price which comes with it he seeks to eradicate root to stem without a split-second’s hesitation.

Oh, and kind. Even if disarmingly frank in a manner which would have made Luna Lovegood blush, Scorpius is kind to a fault bordering on the levels of the Weasley family or Harry Potter himself.

Despite his brilliant smell-the-coffee moment to Potter later, there’s little doubt that being bullied and ostracised because of his parents poor choices have neither warped or wilted him. He bears the casual detachment of someone that can take the punches of the wizarding community, no matter how unjust, and remain unbowed, his own man.

No surprise, thus, his fixation on the less than impressed Rose Weasley is less James Potter for Lily and more Cormac McLaggan with Hermione Grainger in Half Blood Prince – albeit with plenty of Willow Rosenberg style awkward charm (the bread scene in particular was a treasured moment).

That’s the problem, see? He’s too good to be true, every Potterhead’s wet dream of the Good Slytherin. He’s the best part of the whole damn story – you want Harry, Hermione, Draco and Ron to keep their noses out and let’s have more Scorpius damn you! Especially when a no longer Moaning Myrtle, but a Myrtle Warren come to terms with her own legacy, makes a welcome reappearence to roll back the years. Damn that Scorpius, he even makes Moaning Myrtle loveable. Let’s have a six book series about his adventures instead.

Siouxsie And The Banshees (The 35th Anniversary Of ‘Juju’)

17 July, 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please find a collection of eight t-shirts featuring various motifs from their artwork over the years.

Will fit Teen, Young Adult and Adults.

All items are recolourable, but the logos aren’t.

Please also find a collection of twenty poster pictures available as pictures for your Sims 3 game.

The poster pictures use a mesh with many thanks by Yarona at Sims Modeli, so you do not need any stuff packs for this to work – it’s all base game friendly.

Download

To use, download, unzip, and drop the contained folder into your The Sims 3\mods\packages folder and they should show up.

Enjoy!

Let’s Eat Grandma (aka Leg Of Grandma)

8 July, 2016

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Please find a collection of five t-shirts, twenty two poster pictures, thirteen frescos and twenty murals available as pictures for your Sims 3 game.

The poster pictures use a mesh with many thanks by Yarona at Sims Modeli, the frescos use a mesh by Dyokabb at Sims Angels and the wall sized murals use a mesh which comes once again with many thanks from Helen-Sims, so you do not need any stuff packs for this to work – it’s all base game friendly.

Download

To use, download, unzip, and drop the contained folder into your The Sims 3\mods\packages folder and they should show up.

Enjoy!

It goes without saying there is a moral obligation for Jazz-Hands to show unwavering support to a band with a name like Let’s Eat Grandma.

Let’s Eat Grandma comprises of Norfolk multi-instrumentalists Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton (the latter looking uncannily like a member of the Beerhorst family), whose independent debut album ‘I, Gemini’ (released June 2016) and two singles ‘Deep Six Textbook’ (February 2016) and ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’ (May 2016) have proven the subject of considerable acclaim and debate.

Calling their sound ‘psychedelic sludge-pop’ and drawing comparisons with as diverse a range as early Bjork, Vashti Bunyan and The Regents, but with the surreality of the extended family tree of Cardiacs and the unsettling quality of a BBC Ghost Story For Christmas by M.R. James or the Japanese horror movie ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’.

Much of the inspiration for their songs comes from around Norfolk, such as historic Mousehold Heath (site of the still debated murder of William of Norwich and Kett’s Rebellion against tyranny) and the ancient woodland of Wrongs Covert (nr. Lenwade).

Both are Wiccans (although attending a Roman Catholic school) and Jenny Hollingworth is also a flexitime horror movie actress.

Under the alias of Jenski, she also wrote a series of novels about a serial killer called The Cheese Nibbler who buried all her victims under slides.

She may have made up that last bit, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if there was some truth in it…

There was some graffiti as well, but it didn’t come out the way it ought to. May try again another day. There’s some repetition with the pictures, perhaps some pruning to a smaller amount of pictures would have worked better, but this is to suit a planned leisure complex idea being worked on using Let’s Eat Grandma motifs for a set ‘house style’ throughout.

Goodbye Kuro-Sensei

30 June, 2016

goodbye kurosensei

Yes, it’s not entirely the end…

… but all the same, broke my heart over this.

Damn you, Assassination Classroom, why did you have to be so damn good?!

Spoof Of Thrones : Anyone For Hotpie?

27 June, 2016

Arya’s off to rejoin the upper crust of Westeros society, but not quite the way everyone thought it would happen:

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Down in King’s Landing:

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Up in Winterfell:

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Nyan Cat Becomes Nyan Jazz Hands Cat (Jazz Paws?)

16 June, 2016

nyan jazz cat

This is more like it!

Enjoy while this version remains up – let your kitty swing!