Let Me In more engrossing, watchable than original

Let the Right One In (2008) V. Let Me In (2010)

Plot: A troubled young boy forges the most important of human connections with a monster that must kill to stay alive.

Both Tomas Alfredson and Matt Reeves draw on a piece of fiction by John Ajvide titled Let The Right One In (2004). I have read a great deal regarding the varying degree of loyalty with which these directors adapt the events of the book, however, I will not be reviewing them based on this loyalty. In fact, one of my primary complaints about the original Swedish film is that it dips into elements of the novel and is satisfied to leave them completely unexplained. Some stories benefit from this kind of ambiguity but I found myself feeling frustrated and excluded from a deeper understanding of the story. The American film knew when to leave out a piece of plot in the name of a more engrossing experience and I respected the creative license Reeves exercised. That being acknowledged, both movies relate the story of a young boy (Oskar in the Swedish film and Owen in the American) who meets a young girl (Eli in the Swedish film and Abby in the American) and falls deeply in love with her. In Let the Right One In, this “girl’s” gender is called into question. In Let Me In, the character’s gender is never addressed. This, I would argue, is altogether unimportant as Eli is also a vampire and the man who poses as her father is anything but.

How They Compare: Out of all the emotions our species is capable of experiencing, love is perhaps the most important. Love entertains us, sustains us and motivates us. Love drives us to do impossible things and sacrifice to the limits of our ability. Love is not the type of material you’d expect to find in a horror movie. Thankfully for all of us, filmmakers are a breed dedicated to subverting expectations. Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (2008) and Matt Reeves’ Let Me In (2010) are a pair of films that explore both the saccharine and viscerally terrifying in a brutally honest portrait of love.

Eli’s haggard caretaker is a fascinating presence in both films. While the love Eli shares with Oskar is something new and innocent, her relationship with this unnamed human companion is decidedly more complex. Although Reeves’ incarnation has an edge in depicting this unusual bond, I would recommend watching both films. Together, they paint a tragic portrait of sacrifice and the consequences inherent in relinquishing one’s own identity for another. This broken figure has killed in the name of keeping Eli’s conscience clean; it is truly terrible to see what this has done to his own.

In both films, I found little intrigue in Oskar. A deeply troubled child from a broken home, Oskar turns to Eli for both friendship and an escape from his tormenters at school. Where Reeves’ work differs the most from Alfredson’s is not in Oskar himself, but in the world he inhabits. Complete with far more savage bullies and an ever-present gloom, the New Mexico of Let Me In feels more like a frigid nightmare than an actual place. Let Me In magnifies feelings of apprehension and isolation in places where the original film allowed for color and laughter. Alfredson’s take on the story also rations off time to the drunken, piteous inhabitants of the town in which Oskar lives, which provides for an odd mix of bitter humor and something that might be approaching commentary. I personally prefer Reeves’ more streamlined vision but others might appreciate the broader feel of Alfredson’s movie. The lighter tone is certainly interesting when viewed next to the oppressive darkness of Let Me In but I found both approaches enjoyable. Let the Right One In has a frank visual styling that is instantly appealing while Let Me In is far more surreal and far more disquieting. The combined effect of these films is to illustrate the power of tonality in telling a story. While the content differs very little between the two movies, one feels like an eccentric drama and the other a crushing tragedy.

It is notable, actually, that both Let the Right One In and Let Me In feel so little like horror films. These are monster movies by definition but they are monster movies about what it means to be human. Although I found Reeves’ Let Me In to be an overall more polished and affecting experience, both directors have an obvious talent for storytelling. One must really watch both films to experience this tale in its fullest. It is rare to find the beautiful and the destructive in love so compellingly encapsulated.

Who Wins: Although Let the Right One In is a beautifully unique film, I found Let Me In to be more engrossing and watchable. However, I gladly urge the curious to explore both takes on the story. The choice here has less to do with quality and more to do with preference.


Constantine pilot is shaky, but promising

Title: ConstantineMV5BMTQ2MzQzMjA2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg1MTI4MjE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_

Starring: Matt Ryan, Charles Halford, Harold Perrineau

Plot: John Constantine (Matt Ryan), a brooding, wisecracking paranormal investigator abandons retirement to save a life. With the help of an angel named Manny (Harold Perrineau), Constantine may also be able to save his damned soul.

Why See It: The task set before a pilot episode is a rather unfair one. In its first episode, a show is expected to prove its entertainment value, establish its world, and give first-time viewers a story arc to wrap themselves up in. It is no surprise, then, that few pilots are truly representative of the story they unveil. Like countless ventures before it, Constantine does what is asked of it at the starting line and, as a result, is bogged down in lame exposition. On the acting front, Constantine’s first outing was a mixed bag. Ryan plays the show’s namesake character with an appealing swagger that almost made me forget I’d seen him a million times before. In everything from Star Wars to Iron Man. Regardless of his comic book antics, network television’s Constantine is the type of surly, wisecracking action hero that feels instantly familiar. Attempts were made at fleshing out his role but these fell a bit flat. The introduction of a young girl who Constantine accidently delivered into the clutches of a demon felt less important than it should, considering that it resulted in his damnation; a key plot point. Later, Constantine discussed his tumultuous childhood in the middle of attempting to send the episode’s primary antagonist back to hell. The moment felt so forced and hokey that I ended up laughing when I should have been empathizing. A secondary stumbling block of the pilot came in the form of Lucy Griffiths. Her character, Liv, was forced to play that terrible part of both damsel in distress and stand-in for the audience. Most of her lines were questions (fair ones, admittedly) meant to pull back the layers of the Constantine mythos for uninitiated viewers. Unfortunately, this job is both uninteresting and unflattering. Instead of allowing Griffiths to react naturally to her predicament, the script forces her to spend every second fleshing out the concept of the show. She comes across as rather unconvincing when compared to more colorful personalities unburdened by the duties of exposition providing. The key issue here was that that pilot took on more backstory than it could chew in its hour runtime. The insights it provided would have been more effectual if sprinkled throughout the first few episodes and, had this approach been taken, the first episode would have felt far less rushed. Despite these hiccups, though, Constantine is promising enough to warrant further investigation. Rushed world building and cliché’ broody moments aside (seriously, two traumatic backstories for one character) the show proved surprisingly unsettling. Its first episode may not have been stellar, but few ever are. I, for one, will be tuning in next week.

Rating: ★★★

Image Source: imdb.com

Annabelle worth watching despite poor acting

Title: Annabelle

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, and Tony Amendola

Plot: Before The Conjuring, there was Annabelle… a vintage doll possessed by a demon determined to steal the soul of baby Leah through manipulation and plenty of violence. Sacrifice, vengeance, and horror are all major themes represented in this film.

Why see it: Annabelle, being the prequel to The Conjuring, had a lot to live up to in order to keep fans of The Conjuring interested; Annabelle did just that. Directed by John R. Leonetti, Annabelle kept you on the edge of your seat and with constant suspense and great effects. However, the acting and the ending of the movie hardly satisfied, and did not do the movie much justice. The poor acting made it harder for some scenes to be believable as well as causing them to be predictable, but more so than that, the ending of the film left the audience hanging and disappointed for various reasons. Despite these few flaws in the movie, Annabelle is worth watching. It had an overall good storyline and was full of everything a scary movie should be; plenty of suspense and horror.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Image Source: USAToday.com

Carrie remake fails to convey plot, mood of original

Image from: screenrant.com

Movie Title: Carrie

Plot Summary: An outcast  teenage girl, Carrie White, discovers she has telepathic powers and unleashes them on her classmates after a prank gone wrong at prom.

Comparison: Both movies are based off of the novel of the critically acclaimed horror novelist, Stephen King, that was published in the mid 70’s. The first film rendition was done in 1976 and directed by Brian De Palma, while the latest version, directed by Kimberly Peirce, was released just last year.

Though both films still followed the same general story line, there were a few distinctions between the two. As the 2013 remake is set in the modern times there are modern technologies such as cell phones that play a roll is how the story plays out. As in the book the 1970’s version is set in the past and lacks such modern ideas. The difference in time setting of the two films affect how the story is portrayed. It may give younger audiences more appeal to the remake, as they can relate to Carrie White’s character and her high school experiences more so than the film being set in the past.

As far as the cast goes, I personally found favor in De Palma’s original film depiction of King’s novel. The lead role of Carrie White was played by Sissy Spacek. I felt that Spacek was able to bring more life to the role of Carrie than Chloe Grace Mortez was able to in the remake. In some of the scenes Mortez gave bizarre facial expressions and was awkward at times with the dialogue. These flaws could also possibly  be do to the screen writing and direction.

One things I did enjoy about the remake was Carrie’s mother was more prominent in the building of the plot. She was included in many more scenes and helped to give us a better understanding of what lead Carrie to her breaking point. She also amplified the eerie and disturbing tone of the entire film, as I thought she was by far the creepiest character.

Winner: Overall I think the original film adaptation prevails. Coming from the perspective of someone who has read King’s novel, the 1970’s Carrie followed Kings story more closely. I also had an appreciation for the amount of gore included in the original movie. The 2013 remake was almost too morbid and gory in the final climactic scenes, I would almost go as far as to say it was borderline disturbing. Peirce in my opinion went a little too overboard in portraying the deaths of Carrie’s classmates on screen.


American Horror Story lets viewers unleash inner freak

Title: American Horror Story: Freak Show

Starring: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters

Plot: A band of social outcasts come together and put on a disturbing freak show under the careful guidance of a former German star whose career is on its last legs.

Why see it:  Everything about this season of American Horror Story is appealing. The initial attraction of watching performers turn their so-called handicaps morph into standing ovations brings viewers in. The underlying grim reality of poverty, murderous clown rampages and an exploration of the bizarre inspires fixation. The show’s creator Ryan Murphy always keeps the audience guessing. Keeping true to the show’s notoriously gristly style, there’s just enough gore to be shocking without going overboard. The characters have been cast impeccably, and watching them is truly an immersive experience. This is especially because Murphy has ingrained suspense in the show and hanging on their every word comes naturally. Since each story is so unique it becomes impossible not to feel attached to their struggles and their stories. Future episodes definitely won’t disappoint.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Image source: hngn.com

Walking Dead actor Scott Wilson shares on set memories

What was your first film role?

My first film role was a film called In the Heat of the Night with Sydney Poitier and Rod Steiger. It won five academy awards. That led to my next film role, which was In Cold Blood. I’ve been in a lot of films since then.


What was it like to work with actors like Sidney Poitier?

It was awe-inspiring, He was such a great guy, and he was so helpful to me as a young actor. The whole set was great. Rod Steiger was great to work with as well, and Norman Jewison was the director, he was a great guy. I had some big scenes with Sidney. He was more than helpful to me. He would go home and rewrite the scenes he was in and we ended up going with his rewrites. He was very nice to work with, and he was a great man.


What was your favorite role you ever had?

That’s hard to say. It’s like which child is your favorite child. You have one you just don’t let them know it. So, each role was special for different reasons. I just love acting, I love the process of acting I love doing it, so doing something that didn’t quite go the way you wanted it to is still better than anything else I could be doing. I love it.


What was it like to be a part of The Walking Dead?

It was really terrific because if you do a play, you realize the full arch of the character in one night. If you do a movie or a guest spot in a TV show, you see the full arch of the character. However, in a series like this, you don’t because you’re always evolving and always changing. That was exciting, for me, I hadn’t experienced that before. So it showed, you’re never too old to learn and enjoy what you’re doing.


What was it like to play such a loved character such as Hershel?

I didn’t play him to be lovable, I played him as a person of conviction who liked people, and saw the best side of people. So that may be why he was perceived as being lovable. He himself was flawed but he didn’t let his flaws defeat him, and he also saw the best in other people who were also flawed. He helped bring out the best in other people so he was a special character to play. A lot of it is done not through dialogue but through looks, how you respond to someone, and what you say to someone.


What was it like to work with the cast and crew of The Walking Dead?

It was terrific. It was a great cast, when I first agreed to go on it I watched the first season, and I looked at what the actors were doing and I saw the quality of the work that the crew was providing, with the cameramen and the special effects and everything and I said ‘Yeah, I would love to be apart of that.’


What was it like to prepare for a role that is taking place during the Zombie apocalypse?

Well, it’s an apocalyptic tale, and that strips people down to who they really are. You come face to face with who you really are and, there are no rules, there is no one to hold you in check but yourself. I think that is really a part of the appeal to the show, that people are constantly exposing themselves to who they are, and dealing with situations that test who they are. I think a lot of people identify with that because they feel challenged in their life to identify who they are, what they’re doing, and how they should behave. It was fun doing it.


Who did you draw inspiration from as an actor?

We mentioned them earlier; Sidney Portiere, Rod Steiger, these guys were just giants, and I worked with them. Burt Lancaster, George C. Scott, I’ve worked with some really exceptional people, and you learn just by being around them. You learn by the people you associate with.


Back to your earlier work, when doing In Cold Blood did you get to work with Truman Capote?

I met him. I didn’t work with him. He came to town when the press did and we went out and took some pictures with him, so we had some conversation.


Do you have any advice that you can offer the younger generation of people today that are about to go into the world, trying to get into what they want to do for a living?

If you love it, go for it. It doesn’t have to happen right away. When you are young, time seems like it’s going to drag forever. I thought five and a half years was a long time, I did plays, workshops and acting classes. I got my first film interview for In the Heat of the Night and I got the role. I thought that was a long time, now I realize five and a half years is not long at all, if you love what you’re doing then you will be happy. If you love what you’re doing, you don’t have to have other things. I always held enough money to go to acting classes, because I wanted to do it. If you want to do it, you will do it. It’s hard. There’s no blueprint either. Everyone I know has different stories as to how they got started doing what they’re doing. If you want to do it, you will find a way. A lot of good fortune has to be involved. But if you get that good fortune, you better be ready to cash in on it. Be ready to move, because it may not come again. It’s tough, but it’s fun.

Image from: ew.com

Findlay choirs’ performance shines despite construction obstacles

The Findlay High School choirs performed their fall concert Tuesday, October 7th at 7:30 p.m. Due to construction on the new breezeway, the choir concert took place in the gym.

“I feel like being in the gym was kind of hindering, the sound of the choirs was not as projected” sophomore Gabbi Calvert said. “I think a lot of the parents liked it, though, because they had a better view of all the choirs when we did the combined piece.”

Despite the concert being held in the gym, the concert still went very well and had a good audience.

National Honor Society to host fall blood drive

Next week, National Honor Society (NHS) will host its fall blood drive for Findlay High School students. The blood drive will provide a relatively easy way for students to help those in need.

“High school blood drives provide approximately 60% of the blood supply in northwest Ohio. This is a great way to give to others who are less fortunate,” counselor and NHS adviser Mary Burget said.

Student volunteers from NHS will help facilitate the process on the day of the blood drive and student volunteers from the school’s population will give blood to the Red Cross.

“The National Honors Society sponsored Blood drive will be held in the Findlay High School Auxiliary Gym, and all students who have completed the paperwork are eligible to donate blood,” NHS President Lindsay George said.

The blood drive will be held on Wednesday, October 8th during school hours. Students may sign-up at the table in the cafeteria anytime during periods 5a, 5b and 5c. They must fill out a parental consent form if they are under eighteen and will be called out of class with the permission of the teacher to give blood.

For more information, ask the volunteers in the cafeteria from periods 5a-5c or contact NHS advisers Mary Burget and Nancy Frankenfield or NHS President Lindsay George.

Lorde showcases her talent, style on tour

Tour Name: Lorde

Headliner: Majical Cloudz

Artist: Lorde

Venue: LC Pavillion, Columbus Ohio

Photo by Katie Keys

Why you should see this artist: At the young age of seventeen, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-
, better known by her stage name Lorde, has attracted a great deal of attention with her second studio album Pure Heroin. The album’s popularity developed so quickly that it led to a huge tour across the states through 2014. The headliner a Canadian electronic-pop duo Majical Cloudz, gained unanimous approval from the crowd of anxious Lorde fans. They had the crowd well energized by the time Lorde took the stage. The lights went down and the crowd erupted in cheers, then with a flash of red light and fog the opening beat to Lorde’s Glory and Gore filled the amphitheater. The crowd sang along through the entire set, which consisted of the complete tracklist of the 17 year old artist’s Pure Heroin. A few of the songs were altered slightly and helped to showcase Lorde’s range of singing. Despite her youth and recent start, Lorde graced the audience with a quick inspirational monologue and expressed her immense gratitude to her fans. Overall she had great stage presence and her voice was just as outstanding live as it is on the record.

Rating: ★★★★☆