Jeff Otto to the San Diego Comic-Con by storm chatting it up with all of the big names behind this year’s upcoming horror films. One of the most anticipated is Hammer and Overture Films’ Let Me In, their adaptation of the Swedish novel arriving in theaters October 1. Jeff caught up with director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) to talk about the project that’s been getting some serious hype over the past few weeks.
It seems like vampires are just about everywhere these days – on television, in movies and even being mashed up into literary classics. More than simply a subset of the horror genre, vamps have become a genre in and of themselves.
And like the horror genre itself, the variations on the emerging vampire genre are nearly endless. 2008’s Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN offered another twist on the persevering legend, its bloodsuckers sharing little with the romantic, diamond-skinned pretty boys of TWILIGHT or the sexually charged, blood-lusting of TRUE BLOOD.
“The vampire thing is a metaphor for something real,” Matt Reeves tells Bloody-Disgusting during an exclusive interview discussing his American remake, LET ME IN. “It’s a way for them to do a story about being 12. It’s really about being an outcast, about being lonely and confused and having no one to talk to. In a way, Abby (Chloe Moretz) represents all of his darker feelings that Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) really can’t act on.”
When Reeves was first approached for the project by Overture, it was with the caveat that he might want to make the central characters older, but it was pre-adolescent outcast themes that really appealed to him. “I watched it and I was blown away and told them, `Number one, I’m not sure you should remake this movie and if you do and you make the kids older, you literally destroy the story.’”
“The novel really reminded me so much of my childhood. I wrote to Lindqvist, who wrote the novel and adapted the screenplay, to tell him how much I admired the film and how much I liked the novel. I told him I was interested in doing this not just because it’s a great genre story, but also because it really connected to my childhood.”
Working with child actors can be a challenge for directors, especially in a story like this with dark, very adult themes. “One of the things I wanted to do was put it as much as possible into the point of view of Owen,” says Reeves. “That would require an actor who was 12 or 13 who had tremendous authenticity and depth and reality. I always wanted there to be a reaction in the story to when he finally discovers that Abby is a vampire. When he finally calls his father, who is only visible over the phone, there’s this whole scene that would play on Owen as tries to get help. And Kodi comes in and plays the scene and I literally said, `Now we can make the movie.’ I was worried about whether or not we could do it, but he’s extraordinary.”
For Abby, it’s hard to imagine a better choice than Chloe Moretz, who turned heads with her high kicks and horrified parents with her filthy mouth in KICK-ASS. “She’s amazing,” Reeves tells BD. “This is such a complex role. She’s a 250 year-old 12 year-old. We brought in a lot of different people and when she came in, I said, `This is what it needs to be.’”
Metaphors aside, LET ME IN is still a horrific tale in many ways, especially when it comes to Richard Jenkins `Father’ character, who helps Abby quench her thirst. Landing an actor of Jenkins caliber brought a humanity to a character that could have easily turned villainous. Kodi chimed in during our interview to talk about his older co-star. “He’s great because I can watch [Jenkins] in STEP BROTHERS and he’s so funny,” says Smit-McPhee. “And then I watch him in this and I’m like, `Oh my God, he’s so deep and amazing.’ He stabs a kid in the throat, lays him down and the blood goes out. He just drains it. And even though he’s just done something so horrible, you still feel sorry for him.”
“It’s not some kind of crazy, excessive gore,” says Reeves. “It feels to me like the kind of gore that the story warrants, which is really true of the original film as well. It was very disturbing yet still restrained. Some of that restraint makes it spookier. The movie has these quiet, tender scenes between these guys talking and all of the sudden you see something shocking. It’s those juxtapositions of tones and the gore is like that too. Things can be incredibly tender and then you’ll see something disturbing. The gore is meant to be disturbing more than anything else. It’s filled with a tremendous amount of suspenseful dread.”
LET ME IN opens in theaters nationwide October 1st, 2010.