In Contention


TIFF: ‘Hereafter’ underwhelms, ‘Let Me In’ bests original?

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 2:32 pm · September 11th, 2010

I’ve been hearing for a couple of months now that Matt Reeves’s “Let Me In” is as good if not better than Tomas Alfredson’s original film (and a top 10 effort in my book), “Let the Right One In.” I won’t see it for another week or so, but early word out of Toronto dovetails with what I’ve been hearing.

Jeffrey Wells says the film is “at least as good” as the original and that it is “carefully copied with a meticulous, unhurried, highly absorbing style.”  In fact, he eventually admits he liked it better this time around, largely because he was more impressed with Chloe Moretz than with Lina Leandersson.  MTV’s Josh Horowitz, meanwhile, Tweets, “It’s breathtaking and yes I think it’s better than the original.”  Variety’s Peter Debruge concurs, offering that the film “commands respect for not dumbing things down, offering classy, ‘Sixth Sense’-style crossover potential as it lures both genre suckers and fresh blood.”  And by the way, I’ve also been hearing that Michael Giacchino’s score could be something to watch for this season.

Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter” had a press screening at the festival this afternoon in what I imagine was a claustrophobic 139-seat setting.  Official reviews are embargoed until tomorrow’s public screening, but I’ve got some disheartening reactions after the jump.

One person at the screening this afternoon tells me the film is “banal, okay, so-so, mild, auto-pilot, meh.  Damon is good.  I believed his readings and conveyances.  But some of the dialogue (including some of Damon’s) is too flat, too on-the-nose.  And those teardrops falling down those cheeks…twice!”  Meanwhile, Cinematical’s Erik Davis Tweets, “First word back from our writer: ‘It might be the worst thing Eastwood has ever directed.’”  Ouch.

Mike D’Angelo (formerly of Esquire and on his own as of late) smacks it with a 25/100 rating and Tweets, “3 useless narratives go nowhere for 100 mins, then pointlessly converge in a way that’d make G. Arriaga crack up.”  A rather disrespectful follow-up Tweet tells us he’s no fan of Eastwood’s work, by the way.  And I gather by context clues that he’s flabbergated the film was chosen as the New York Film Festival’s closing night attraction.

For just a little (though not much) balance, another attendee tells me, “It’s oddly compelling the entire time, but I wasn’t satisfied in the end…Damon is only in a third of it.  He is quite good.  Just a peculiar film that I’ll have to sit on. Very different than anything Eastwood has recently done.  I really hated ‘Invictus’ and this was nothing like it of course.”  /Film’s Peter Sciretta echoes that, offering that the film “was compelling but ultimately unsatisfying and rather pointless.”  I’m also told the vibe in the room was “not strong…no sort of response at all.”

I’ll admit to being somewhat compelled by the trailer that underwhelmed so many yesterday, so I’ll try to take all this with a grain.  And remember, it’s worth it to be cautious of any knee-jerk reaction at a festival.  But this isn’t a good early start.

[Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures]




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56 responses so far

  • 1 9-11-2010 at 2:37 pm

    Josh said...

    Anonymous guy number one sounds like Wells, if only based on how run-on his sentence is.

    And I won’t name the two people in question, but the second anonymous person’s line sounds like two film bloggers who repeated each other a few minutes ago on Twitter. So, if it’s one of those two, it’s not anonymous any more.

    I gotta say, I’m with Chad’s comment from the trailer post: the movie, based on those two minutes, doesn’t look that great. Granted, I’d be shocked if it ends up being worse than, say, Blood Work, but…ouch anyway on these reactions.

  • 2 9-11-2010 at 2:37 pm

    Danielle said...

    Before watching the trailer, I thought this would put old Clinty back on the map; after watching the trailer, this response is exactly what I expected.

  • 3 9-11-2010 at 2:39 pm

    Josh said...

    Following up, as you edited the post during/after my comment, Sciretta’s tweet seemed to copy, not echo, the other person I was referring to. I suppose it’s possible that three separate people in the screening had the exact same opinion in pretty much the EXACT same amount of words.

  • 4 9-11-2010 at 2:39 pm

    Zac said...

    Haters gonna hate. :)

    I remember reading similar reactions to Gran Torino and I liked that movie.

  • 5 9-11-2010 at 2:42 pm

    Owsler said...

    Asian Tsunami and London bombings mixed with sentimentality and a cardie wearing psychic. Wonderful.

    And why am I not surprised people are saying Let Me In is better than the original. Good grief.

  • 6 9-11-2010 at 2:42 pm

    Loyal said...

    I’m sensing a dogpile. There’s always one film and Eastwood is an easy target.

    I’m not a fan of the trailer so I’m curious where all this is going.

  • 7 9-11-2010 at 3:06 pm

    The Dude said...

    Didn’t like the “Hereafter” trailer, so I’m not surprised by the response.

    Can’t wait to hear more word on “Let Me In.” A year ago I was on the “why are they doing this, the original was fantastic” bandwagon…but the trailer/marketing of this movie have been quite good, enough to make me think this will not be the disaster I imagined it would. Now a few people are calling it as good, if not better, than the original? I am now officially intrigued…

  • 8 9-11-2010 at 3:07 pm

    Dan Seeger said...

    The worst thing that Eastwood has ever directed? It’s going to need to be pretty dang bad to be worse than “The Rookie.”

  • 9 9-11-2010 at 3:08 pm

    Loyal said...

    As for the Variety review of Let Me In, I thought this summed it up quite nicely:

    “Let Me In” is so similar as to leave some wondering, “Why bother?”

    “Reeves’ remake seems to exist solely on the assumption that a large, subtitle-averse aud somehow wasn’t served by Alfredson’s original.”

    If Reeves couldn’t improve upon the pool sequence ending, why bother indeed?

  • 10 9-11-2010 at 3:11 pm

    Gustavo said...

    I’m loyally with Loyal on this one…

  • 11 9-11-2010 at 3:25 pm

    AdamL said...

    Trouble with Let Me In is that we’ve already seen the film, and films rarely excite more second time round. Not impossible, but unlikely.

    It’s like Psycho 98, which objectively can’t possibly be a bad film, but kind of felt like it was.

    And Quarantine, which must surely have been good, but didn’t seem nearly as great as [Rec].

  • 12 9-11-2010 at 3:30 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There is at least one original scene in Let Me In (which showed at Comic-Con) that is rather amazing.

  • 13 9-11-2010 at 3:35 pm

    amanda said...

    Sucks about the Hereafter reaction. But I read the script and knew it wasn’t going to be great. I wanted better for Matt, mostly cause now we are going to hear about Matt not being a “movie star” and how his movies fall flat..blah blah. Matt isn’t a movie star and never was. he’s an actor who had one huge franchise hit and that’s it.

  • 14 9-11-2010 at 3:38 pm

    Owsler said...

    A scene from the book that wasn’t in the original, or an entirely new scene? If it’s the latter that just seems like one-upmanship.

  • 15 9-11-2010 at 3:40 pm

    Andrew M said...

    Great to hear good things about “Let Me In”. It’s good to hear that it isn’t an insult to the great original. I knew Hereafter wouldn’t be good, but I’m surprised that it is “The worst thing Eastwood has directed”

  • 16 9-11-2010 at 3:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Owsler: I never read the book so I couldn’t say. Maybe it’s in there.

  • 17 9-11-2010 at 3:50 pm

    MovieMan said...

    I had problems with “Let the Right One In” (really quite a wobbly narrative at the end of the day), but it was effective for what it tried to do. I love Reeves as a director (“Cloverfield” is a masterpiece), and I’ve got high hopes for “Let Me In,” after these reactions.

    As for “Hereafter,” it will literally have to receive zero stars from me to qualify as Eastwood’s worst film, as “Invictus” was awarded with half-a-star from me and made my bottom ten. It was atrocious. “Hereafter” sounds more ambitious than that history lesson of a sports movie and so I imagine I’ll at least give it that. If it’s not good, I just ask that it’s an ambitious failure along the lines of “Flags of Our Fathers” or “Mystic River.” At least there will be some things to admire.

  • 18 9-11-2010 at 3:54 pm

    interstellar said...

    ‘let me in’ better than the original? eh, I’ll believe it when I see it

  • 19 9-11-2010 at 3:56 pm

    Rashad said...

    You think Mystic River failed?

    The original Let the right one in wasn’t that good. I don’t care for the remake but I’ll watch it.

  • 20 9-11-2010 at 4:03 pm

    Loyal said...

    Kris, are you talking about the car/kidnapping sequence? I’ve heard great things about it previously and today Sciretta and Billington described it as Spielberg-esque (whatever that means).

    I’m not against the idea of a remake but the original was so well made and so recent that remaking it seems rather counterproductive (and yes lucrative since no one saw the original).

    How can Let Me In even stand on its own as a film without proper distance from the original?

  • 21 9-11-2010 at 4:05 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, that’s the one.

  • 22 9-11-2010 at 4:07 pm

    Duncan Houst said...

    A lot of people are saying that this film is a shot for shot remake of the original, and I just don’t believe that’s true. I’m sure that Matt Reeves put in a few homages to the original, but I remember him telling members of the cast and crew not to see the original film, so as to aid their own portrait of the story.

  • 23 9-11-2010 at 4:08 pm

    Dooby said...

    Was not really looking into the remake of Let the Right One because I assumed they would stuff it up, but now I admit I am intrigued.

    As for Hereafter, the trailer looked mildly interesting but nothing I would be jumping to see. But saying that, I’m not big on Eastwood anyway.

  • 24 9-11-2010 at 4:08 pm

    tony rock said...

    Hmm perhaps Let Me In will convince me and others that Cloverfield’s success wasn’t just due to Abrams.

  • 25 9-11-2010 at 4:12 pm

    Loyal said...

    Reeves is more than just Cloverfield, he also brought us Under Siege 2 (writer) and The Pallbearer (writer/director).

  • 26 9-11-2010 at 4:17 pm

    Marshall1 said...

    I think auto-pilot is the key word. Invictus suffers from the same problem because everything is so by the book, but there is no inspiration or effort into it. After watching the trailer for “Hereafter”, I wasn’t as compelled as others are. I thought the effects are not great, and the shown dialogue is kinda cheesy. The good thing is Matt Damon, and he’s shirtless!

    Yeah, I wouldn’t call “Cloverfield” a masterpiece. Instead, I think it is quite a piece of overhyped, manipulative sh*t. That’s just my opinion. The actors are annoying, the story doesn’t make sense. The only good thing is the monster, and they have good marketing. I was hoping they would kill the main characters LOL. So….I have very low expectations for Let me In.
    The original was good (not great), so I hope they don’t ruin it.

  • 27 9-11-2010 at 4:23 pm

    Rashad said...

    Cloverfield was one of the best atmospheres in a movie I’ve seen in a long time.

    JJ Abrams is a terrible director.

  • 28 9-11-2010 at 4:26 pm

    Marshall1 said...

    To me, atmosphere does not equal solid story-telling and multi-dimensional characters. I could go to the beach on a sunny day and it will have good atmosphere.

  • 29 9-11-2010 at 4:33 pm

    Maxim said...

    I think that there is certain element of appeal in seeing Eastwood tackle a genre film but that could only be a success if it’s not an overtly serious, award baiting affair. I wish Eastwood would relax and stop trying to deliver a BP candiate every time out. The same goes for Scorsese. Both of these filmmakers were spoiled by too much awards attention in the past decade.
    Still, each one has their own talent I guess so that’s the source of that initial appeal I talked about earlier.

    P.S. Cloverfield was a very well done film. Reeves is a real talent and so is Abrams. And, boy, is he ever a good producer.

  • 30 9-11-2010 at 4:33 pm

    austin111 said...

    I almost always take Mike D’Angelo’s critiques with a grain of salt. The guy just doesn’t seem to like movies very much to me as he generally gives most a shiv, including many I really thought were absolutely fine. But as always different strokes for different folks. My tastes generally do not converge with his, whatever the heck they are.

  • 31 9-11-2010 at 4:36 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    “Reeves’ remake seems to exist solely on the assumption that a large, subtitle-averse aud somehow wasn’t served by Alfredson’s original.”

    “assumption”?

    The Swedish adaption earned $2 million in the US. Surely Variety has somebody on staff with a calculator or access to boxofficemojo. They’re supposed to be a friggen Industry Trade Paper, fer chrissakes.

    “Never mind about skillfully revamping hot properties to turn a tidy profit; nah, we’re too busy pitying people who still go to the movies and don’t feel like reading. 90% of Americans, that is. Those ones who keep the industry rolling in dough when they show up obediently for all the other studio tentpole dreck we churn out.”

    God forbid a director dare to make a movie that would appeal to a wider audience. When has Hollywood ever cared about that?

  • 32 9-11-2010 at 4:37 pm

    Maxim said...

    ” A rather disrespectful follow-up Tweet tells us he’s no fan of Eastwood’s work, by the way. ”

    A funny thing considering that it’s posted on the same site that dares to call Julie Taymor “a problematic talent”. Apparently general proclamations of that nature and are acceptible while personally not liking someone’s work is disrespectful.

  • 33 9-11-2010 at 4:42 pm

    Maxim said...

    “I wanted better for Matt, mostly cause now we are going to hear about Matt not being a “movie star” and how his movies fall flat..blah blah. Matt isn’t a movie star and never was. he’s an actor who had one huge franchise hit and that’s it.”

    Apart from being an overstament, that second statement seems to contradict the first. Damon may not have a big draw each time out but in certain types of movies he does seem to have audience’s interest. And that’s pretty much all what any stat can expect this days anyway.

    All things considered, I think Damon will get a bigger blow with the upcoming “Adjustment Bereau”. Now that’s what I call a terrible trailer.

  • 34 9-11-2010 at 4:46 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    “I wish Eastwood would relax and stop trying to deliver a BP candiate every time out.”

    Maxim, can I respectfully ask how we can be sure he’s not relaxing and not trying to deliver a BP candidate?

    Let’s not project our own expectations onto Eastwood’s motivations, right?

  • 35 9-11-2010 at 4:50 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Maxim: “Retardedness” and “problematic talent” are two completely different accusations.

  • 36 9-11-2010 at 4:54 pm

    John said...

    “Hereafter” really just feels like nothing to me. I saw the trailer and I still have no idea what it’s about or what happens in it. There seems to be no anticipation, no Oscar prospect, no buzz of any kind. Is this actually a movie?

  • 37 9-11-2010 at 4:55 pm

    Drew said...

    Just read a psoitive response to Emilio Estevez’s The Way featuring his father Martin Sheen.

  • 38 9-11-2010 at 5:05 pm

    Loyal said...

    Eastwood can’t relax, he’s 80. Relaxing means retirement or worse.

    What’s all this talk now about a standing o after Conviction.

    Drew: I hiked the Camino de Santiago this summer which is featured in The Way. I’m really interested in seeing how that film plays.

  • 39 9-11-2010 at 5:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Read a few actually, Drew. Next update.

  • 40 9-11-2010 at 6:04 pm

    MovieMan said...

    Rashad: Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of “Mystic River, or of Sean Penn’s awful performance. There were interesting ideas going on there, but none of them came to fruition as powerfully as in, say, “Moonlight Mile,” which is a powerful near-masterpiece ultimately about grief and anguish but in a tonally intoxicating, completely realistic way. “Mystic River” was a cop-out after the first act, and the ending was terrible (much like the ending of “In the Bedroom,” which was still very solid and superior to Eastwood’s film).

    Marshall1: “To me, atmosphere does not equal solid story-telling and multi-dimensional characters. I could go to the beach on a sunny day and it will have good atmosphere.” I would agree with the first statement, which is why I couldn’t care less about special effects if there is not a good story to back it up. The second statement, however, is a cheap shot. Honestly, for me, “Cloverfield” was one of last decade’s most stunningly brilliant artistic endeavors: not merely a gimmick, but featuring fleshed-out, human characters whose lives were being put in jeopardy. One of the strengths was the you-are-there feel of being dropped in the middle of a horrific situation. It was downright alarming.

  • 41 9-11-2010 at 6:16 pm

    amanda said...

    Maxim other than the Bourne movies what has Damon had an audience interest? The Ocean’s movies aren’t his and none of this other movies have really been big BO. And how is Damon not being ever being an actual Will Smith, Tom Hanks A list movie star an overstatement?

    I don’t think it’s going to do well, but Adjustment Bureau’s trailer was pretty good.

  • 42 9-11-2010 at 6:19 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    From the reactions I’ve seen, very few people think Let Me In is better than the original. Plus, Jeffrey Wells and MTV? Seriously?

    Anyway, I’m not surprised that Hereafter is getting eviscerated. Eastwood should just retire. Also, in defense of D’Angelo, I think he meant he’s not a fan of Eastwood’s recent output, not his entire filmography. I mean, he does have Unforgiven as his no.1 of 1992.

  • 43 9-11-2010 at 6:25 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    That’s what had been published when I posted. So, yeah, seriously.

  • 44 9-11-2010 at 6:33 pm

    Marshall1 said...

    Yeah, I’m kinda bitchy today, my favourite tennis player lost..:(
    but yeah, I still don’t think the characters are fleshed-out at all. Yes, I would agree they are put in jeopardy, but I think the decisions they make does not make a lot of sense, and they constantly put themselves in harm’s way. I like it the first time, but in second viewing, I think the characters shallow, irritating, and I’m anticipating the monster coming in and wreaking havoc….lol
    It’s not I just watched it once and hated it, but the 2nd time proves to be much less enjoyable. I think you need to be in a theatre surrounded by people in the dark to enjoy the movie.

  • 45 9-11-2010 at 6:57 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    The crack about Lina Leandersson from “Let the Right One In” is surprising. I thought she was the best thing in the original. She was genuinely creepy. By the way, there is a short featurette on the DVD of Alfredsson’s film in which the director points out how Sovietized Stockolm was in the early 1980s, when the film is set. The implication, which I did not pick up on at all from the film, is that the school bullies are stand-ins for the neo-Stalinist Swedish establishment at the time. (I guess in that case the vampire girl is a wish-fulfillment fantasy: she disposes of the bullies, but then the kid is left having to satiate his fascist deliverer . . . forever.) In any case, the DVD suggested that Alfredsson is a conservative Swedish movie director, which I believe is something like a unicorn.

  • 46 9-11-2010 at 7:02 pm

    James D. said...

    Maybe I am just stubborn, but I still have no interest in Let Me In. I can read and I loved the original, so what would be the point?

  • 47 9-12-2010 at 7:07 am

    ninja said...

    Super-psyched for Let Me In raves. This is amazing year for Chloe Moretz and I wish she manages a supporting nom for either LMI or KA. Though I can`t imagine AMPAS loving either movie and Portman will be the horror movie leading lady with a nom, or – fingers crossed! – win, so they`ll feel they filled in their genre quota.

  • 48 9-12-2010 at 9:59 am

    Chris138 said...

    I’m also part of the “I’ll believe it when I see it” crowd about Let Me In. The original Swedish film is one of the best horror/vampire movies in recent memory.

  • 49 9-12-2010 at 12:26 pm

    Jake G. said...

    Hereafter looks very good! You people critique movies way to harsh! What looks so bad in the trailer???

  • 50 9-12-2010 at 2:15 pm

    Ryan G said...

    With the bickering of new vs old surrounding the movie “Let me in”, I’m getting curious. I now want to see “Let the Right One In” before watching this one.

    But then again, I often see scary movies for other reasons, such as Halloween cos I’m a Rob Zombie fan, Christine for the Plymouth Fury, The Stand for the novelized Bible theme, etc.

  • 51 9-13-2010 at 1:17 am

    Tye-Grr said...

    What’s the harm in remaking ‘Let The Right One In’? Shit, it’s not like ‘Let Me In’ will flashy light thingy the memories you already have of the original.

    I saw and quite enjoyed the original, but I’m still very interested in the remake, mostly because it offers strong roles to two very good young actors, Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee; the former stole the show in ‘Kick-Ass’, and the latter was heartbreaking in ‘The Road’. And if it’s also good, how would that be a bad thing? If anything, it’ll raise awareness of the original and might actually get people who were unaware if it to seek it out.

  • 52 9-13-2010 at 8:28 am

    Mike said...

    Sucks to hear Hereafter isn’t as great as all the hype. Love the cast, love the writer, love the director. That’s one of the bigger disappointments of the fest for me.

    Still, you gotta love Eastwood for still going at it!

    He gives a pretty great interview with Tribute:
    http://www.tribute.ca/tiff/index.php/2010/09/12/eastwood-and-damon-talk-exclusively-about-hereafter/

  • 53 9-21-2010 at 8:37 pm

    Allan said...

    I have been reading several good reviews for Hereafter recently. Maybe it will divide audiences, but I know I will be going to see it on opening weekend. By the way, I loved Mystic River.

  • 54 9-22-2010 at 5:00 am

    Kalmar said...

    Answer to Frank Lee.

    I don’t think Alfredson is very conservative. You have to remember that almost everyone, even communist organisations, in Sweden in the early 1980s saw Soviet as a big treath. Remember that Olof Palme (left, but still a big friend of USA) called the invasion of Checkoslovakia as a work by beasts.

  • 55 10-24-2010 at 2:53 am

    volcanoquake said...

    This was a very boring movie. The beginning was exciting and halarious. After that I wish I brought an mp3 player. The rookie should of won an emmy compared to hereafter.