Dir: Matt Reeves
Star: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Elias Koteas, Richard Jenkins
This is one of those remakes where I’d almost certainly rank it a lot higher, if I hadn’t seen the original. As is, while still a solid take on the genre, which totally kicks the arse of a certain teen-vampire series, on which I just wasted seven hours of my life… All the good bits are familiar from the first time I saw them, and the adjustments made for an American audience didn’t mark any obvious improvement. The main reaction they provoked was, “It snows that much in New Mexico?” The core story remains: a dysfunctional, bullied kid, Owen (Smit-McPhee) befriends a new next-door neighbour, Abby (Moretz) who turns out to be a vampire, and needs a steady supply of fresh blood to survive.
She has a ‘keeper’ (Jenkins), whose job it is to harvest the local low-lives and bottle their juices for her; needless to say, the local police are unimpressed by the bodies as they appear, and it’s a question of whether Abby will be able to evade the net and move on. Meanwhile, Owen’s bullies are becoming more psychotically inclined, leading to a confrontation at the school swimming-pool. The first production from the resurrected Hammer film studios is certainly a worthy project, but like most remakes of foreign films, founders on its pointlessness, from my point of view. The leads are both pretty good, Moretz in particular possessing an other-worldly quality that is effective, though Owen is portrayed almost as a serial-killer in the making: he wets himself and, at one point, stands in front of his mirror in a mask, pretending to stab a girl.
It’s an odd note, one I don’t quite recall from the original, and doesn’t really go anywhere; nor does the obvious shoe-horning of Ronald ‘Evil Empire’ Reagan into the scenario. There are some very cool moments, but as noted, these were all ones taken from the original, and so possess little of the wallop, since you know they are on their way. While it’s nice to see the rebirth of Hammer, and I am also pleased to see them making thoughtful, intelligent horror movies for adults, rather than PG-13 fluff [hello, Sam Raimi!], I’d prefer for the studio to come up with more original work, or at least new takes on the classics: largely repeating very good foreign films won’t keep my interest.