Trojan Tub Entertainment

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sucking the Life from Our Children, Part 3

Our Children, Our Vampires
Let Me In (2010, Dir. Matt Reeves), based on the 2008 Swedish film, Let the Right One In (2008, Dir. Tomas Alfredson), based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist

The page numbers below refer to the copy of the script of Let Me In (written by Matt Reeves) available here.  

1.   Now, because of what for many is the alluring appearance of Edward and Bella’s romance, the true horror of this serpent’s lie is cloaked. The horror is not cloaked in Let Me In.
2.   show trailer: (2:16)
3.   Sketch the basic story—Owen is a lonely boy, parents divorcing, preyed upon by bullies; Abby is a lonely girl who is a vampire. Like Twilight, it’s a story of “doomed lovers,” though in this case it’s a couple of twelve year-olds. (The film makes references to Romeo and Juliet.) And, like Twilight, we have a kind of vampire hero—or heroine.
4.   But there’s a big difference between the two stories. One critic calls Let Me In the anti-Twilight.
5.   Owen sees Abby attack someone. The movie asks whether evil really exists (show script: “Do you think there is such a thing as evil?” pp. 72-74) and its answer seems to be, “no.” The use of Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech (p. 6) the mother’s Christianity—these reflect traditional categories of good and evil that are ineffectual in this world. The parents both in Twilight and Let Me In are not just absent, they are helpless children themselves.
6.   Owen confronts Abby. Are you a vampire? Abby: “I need…blood. To live. Yes. (p. 75) The little girl’s desire to prey upon humans is a natural necessity, neither morally good nor evil.
7.   Owen identifies with Abby. (pp. 81-84). “Who are you? I’m just like you.” The film tells us that we are all child-predators. Abby is Owen and Owen is Abby.
8.   But unlike Twilight, there is nothing to be done about Abby’s vampire nature. She is who she is and there’s no changing it. She has an animal’s brutal appetite and it needs to be satisfied. She and Owen do manage a kind of friendship, but it’s a deranged kind: Owen will simply become one more in (presumably) a long line of caretakers. By the end of the story, he is simply enabling her vampirism.   
9.   Abby “rescues” Owen from the bullies at school. But unlike Edward Cullen’s heroism, Abby’s vampire heroism does not cut against the grain of her vampire nature. True, she restrains herself from attacking Owen, but in the end it’s her brutal killing of the boys who bully Owen at school that “saves the day.” The only heroism that exists is revenge in the midst of a vengeful world.
10. So, in Let Me In, we come full circle back to Polidori’s idea of the vampire as predator, but now the predator is a female child (who used to be the victim), and what’s more, this child-predator is the (tragic) heroine. And this is what we are left with: we are all vampires now. There is no innocence left untainted by our desire for blood.


Polidori’s predator-vampire has degenerated in our culture into (a) a romantic hero who overcomes his predator nature in order to achieve authenticity; or (b) an image of the basic condition of all of us: fallen, devoured, wholly incapable of “innocence.”
To make children & adolescents vampires is at least to call into question, if not to deal a death blow to, the very notion of innocence.
 This degeneration tracks the cultural degeneration of the last two hundred years of modernity. We have lost our faith in innocence. Without a Christian sense of the human supernatural  destiny, or even a Christian sense of the natural order, we are left with ourselves. We either cling to some vestige of the life of virtue, or we simply abandon all pretense of the good life. 

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