Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:15

Let Me In?

Hearing that quintissentially British horror studio Hammer were planning on resurrecting themselves after the supreme misfire that was From Beyond the Rave by releasing a remake of Let The Right One In struck me as rather wrongheaded. Everything about it set off warning bells; the re-titling, the American location and cast, and above all else ‘reimagining’ a very recent, and rather wonderful film so soon after its initial success.

However, I was undecided about going to see it. Part of me wanted to support it, and part of me was just nonplussed at the entire thing. The jury was out…

And now the jury is very much back in. I won’t be going to see this film. There are a few reasons for this…

  • The irritating viral marketing campaign. I dread to think how much money has been pumped into this, but every billboard and bus in my city seems to be bedecked with the poster. Many of the key horror websites are also being smothered with advertising which drops down to obscure every damn page I’m trying to read, and I’ve seen numerous television ads too. it’s complete and utter overkill, and – with my cynicism very much swinging into action here – I’m always slightly dubious about films which get given this full-on ad campaign treatment. A lot of the films which have been pushed very hard with adverts have turned out to be weak enough that they really need that push. It could be that this is a perfectly good film but the high-profile campaign has had the opposite effect to that intended on me.
  • Hammer itself (or whoever it is that runs their social networking sites) are furthering this approach with masses of posts and retweets from people smitten with the film. Of course, people who, like me, have their doubts, are being assured of a few facts which just come across as plain wrong.
  • Firstly, Hammer is getting tied up in knots about whether this is a remake, or a reimagining from the same source, or a bit of both. After all, says their spokesperson, all of their early successes were remakes. They basically remade Universal’s Dracula, for instance. Except this is absolute bunk! Hammer were terrified of being sued by Universal, and did what they could to make sure their Dracula differed from those existing films. Anyone who’s seen the Hammer artwork exhibition will have seen the early sketches of Hammer’s Frankenstein monster, and will also have seen that this design had to be changed because of its similarity to Karloff’s monster. Hammer were not remaking Universal.
  • Why is the remake issue relevant? Well, there have been a few quibbles about whether or not Let Me In is a remake of Let The Right One In. Ostensibly, the Hammer release is an interpretation of the original novel and not a simple remake of the Swedish film. However, from the scenes and spoilers I’ve seen, the shots are framed almost identically, although the title has been cropped, the pesky foreign language issue removed and the names Americanised. It sure seems like a remake to me – in the purest sense of the term – using the effective style of the first film version whilst rendering the film more palatable for an English-speaking audience. This issue has come up again and again and Hammer have tried to quell it again and again because other people think exactly the same thing – hence the backpeddaling, and trying to rebrand the studio’s entire remit as  ‘remakes’.
  • Hammer has proudly linked to a verdict from Stephen King which calls Let Me In ‘the best American horror of the year’. As I said above, I regard Hammer as quinissentially British, so it saddens me that this film is considered an American project. There are many fine US studios out there already; I do not think Hammer need to play away from home, and I would like to see them do what they always did best – making films with a palpable feeling of Britishness in their horror. I raised this on Twitter and the assurance I received was, ‘hey, it’s better than being the WORST American movie of the year!’ and more comforting still, ‘What, would you rather we made a fairly good British film than a really good American one?’ How about you make a bloody good British film!? Now that they are working on a ‘retelling’ of The Woman In Black, perhaps I’ll get my wish, although I was somewhat dismayed by this week’s BBC news feature on the studio – where new CEO Simon Oakes declared his intention to move away from things lurid and Gothic. Lurid and Gothic would actually make a pleasant change…

So, I won’t be going to see this one. I just don’t feel that I can support such a fundamental shift away from all the things I love most about the studio (as well as its move across the Atlantic): and no, I do not think Hammer should tread the exact same ground it did in the 60s and 70s, but I would like to see more of these types of elements in horror cinema.  Gothic still works brilliantly on screen and is now underrepresented – what better arena for a studio which originally made its mark with Gothic horror? I will just have to vote with my feet here.

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Let Me In?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pazuzu Iscariot, Hellbound_Heart. Hellbound_Heart said: My (possibly unpopular) thoughts on #LetMeIn now up on my #horror blog: [...]

Leave a Reply