Friday, October 12, 2012

Monster Makers #11: Let Me In

It's probably obvious at this point that I have a bias towards practical effects. It's not that I'm a Luddite, and I'm not unequivocally opposed to CGI. What happens too often is that the unlimited possibilities that digital effects present actually restrict creativity; filmmakers shoot knowing that animators can create or fix anything later, and without the limitations of practical effects, they aren't motivated to be inventive in the way that Spielberg was when the shark didn't work. However, when a filmmaker uses CGI to realize a truly ingenious shot that couldn't be accomplished any other way, the result is exhilarating.

Take the car crash sequence in Let Me In, the American remake of Let the Right One In. Director Matt Reeves is largely faithful to the Swedish original, but the scene where Richard Jenkins, as the unnamed aging partner and caretaker of vampire Abby, botches a killing and flips his victim's car over an embankment, is a terrific addition to the story. The scene would be impossible without digital effects, which seamlessly blend shots from three different locations as well as invisibly swapping out Jenkins with a stuntman to create a seemingly unbroken shot entirely inside the car. But the shot works because Reeves doesn't sacrifice spatial continuity or the imperfect details - the drink splattered on the windshield, the air freshener violently swinging from the rearview mirror - that give the moment the verisimilitude that CGI usually irons out. It's a tense, brilliantly executed sequence that suggests what it might look like if Hitchcock were alive and working today.

No comments: