Let Me In is released across the UK today. While I’m not sure fans of Let the Right One In were looking for a do-over, and definitely not this one, Let Me In is still a solid movie in its own right with a lot of high points. As good as “the Swedish film”? Not on your nellie. A good Saturday night at the movies? Yes, I think so.
Special commendation should go to Greig Fraser for his astonishingly strong cinematography.
Here are five things that director Matt Reeves and star Kodi Smit-McPhee told Bleeding Cool about the film when we sat down with them last month.
1. On Casting
Reeves: I just wanted to find two young actors who could handle the emotional complexity of the story because its an adult story… That was the most important thing, to find them.
I went looking for Kodi’s character first and I saw a lot of people and I was really concerned because I thought “If that relationship doesn’t work, you have nothing”. Kodi came in and he was so authentic, I was immediately relieved. When I found Chloe, Kodi was already back doing another movie in Australia so he wasn’t available to read with her.
But the truth is she was great and he was great and I liked them both on their own but I also thought they would be really good together for some reason. I guess I could just see them together. They created that chemistry together and the movie wouldn’t work at all without them, they’re the reason that the movie works.
2. To Watch The Original Or Not Watch The Original
Smit-McPhee: They’ve let me see Let Me In about six times and I’ve seen the original one time. I saw it right after I was done filming Let Me In because I was so eager to see it. My Dad didn’t want me to see it and neither did Matt so I was waiting, waiting the whole time to see it. I thought it was awesome, and I understand people are protective of it because it’s a really good film and you hear that people are remaking it you want them to be careful with it.
Reeves: Kodi hadn’t seen the movie, Chloe hadn’t seen the movie, my director of photography and other key crew members had not seen the movie. I had stopped watching the movie after I realise I was going to do it.
The Swedish film hadn’t come out [in the US] yet when I agreed to remake this so I didn’t know anything about other fans, I just knew that I was a fan. The reason I wanted to remake it was that I related personally to the coming of age story.
3. A Personal Version Of Another Person’s Story
Reeves: To me, the story reminded me of my childhood, appealed to me as an adult in my remembrance of childhood.
When I wrote to Lindqvuist, he wrote back to me. I was saying I’m interested in doing this not because it’s a great vampire story, a great genre story but because it sort of reminds me of my childhood. And he said “That means more to me than anything because it’s the story of my childhood” – without vampires, of course.
The thing I really like about it is that it’s an adult story told through the eyes of children. The process of adaptation was very instinctual. When I saw Let the Right One In, I thought that it was very beautiful. They asked me about remaking it and I said “I don’t know that you should remake it”. And then I read the novel and saw this kind of opportunity to… maybe there’s a way to transfer this story into a context I remembered from growing up.
What was important for me in the beginning was weighing what I wanted in the story. Once that was worked out in the script, our making of the movie was our own process. I thought that if we got into the copying of anything, then it wouldn’t have any soul. Our process wasn’t to avoid and it wasn’t to embrace, it was to find out own way with the story. Some people have actually said “it’s a shot for shot remake” and it’s so not a shot for shot remake.
I certainly didn’t want to randomly change things I had fallen in love with and that I was so moved by.
There’s a portion that’s about personalisation, there’s a portion about taking things from the novel that weren’t actually in the screenplay for the Swedish film, there’s a portion that is very reliant on the novel in how it was adapted, and a lot of the scenes that are the same between each film version are verbatim from the book. And then there’s some very clever things he did in the adaptation, I guess working with Alfredson, and I wanted to take them. So it’s this weird thing where it’s personalising, Americanising, taking from the film, taking from the book, and it was all very instinctual knowing one thing – I related to the story as a coming of age story.
Smit-McPhee: I think that a lot of people started to like Vampires because you can do whatever kind of story you want with vampires. You can make them kind of epic, or you can make them into an adolescent story, or true love. You can mould it into whatever you want.
Reeves: The appeal with vampires is whatever the secret is under the surface. With all great genre stories, you have the surface level which is what that genre is – it’s a giant monster movie, it’s a vampire movie – but underneath that surface, what the secret is, is what really makes it interesting.
5. Point of View
Reeves: I shot it, in terms of scenes I kept, through Owen’s point of view, to make you intimately relate to this character, and use even the subplots to make you relate to his story with Chloe.
If we were doing a ten hour miniseries, including all of the subplots and back stories would be a great thing to do and I bet someday somebody does, like those Stephen King miniseries you see, but for this, knowing I wanted to do it through his point of view, and to illuminate coming of age, I took the story and took the back story and turned them into something he sees. I turned him into a voyeur, so everything he sees, gives him his first glimpses. The policeman, who was a character taken from the book, he was not in the Swedish film, was the moral eyes. On another level, though, he continues to heighten the aspect of the coming of age love story. He’s fate and he’s coming closer and closer, and they’re like Romeo and Juliet and you know that he is threatening that. She’s going to have to leave or something bad is going to have to happen, he’s going to bring that.
What I thought was brilliant about Linqvuist’s conception was that he was finding the metaphor of taking a horror story to describe the horror of growing up. All that sort of dread that Kodi’s character feels every day when he’s going to school, they’re going to bully him. The movie is very much about waiting, waiting for that shoe to drop. The horror for me is not about those jump moments, though the few that are there are hopefully exciting and engaging, but it’s about waiting for the terrible thing that’s going to happen. It was important to me that the film occupied the emotional space of the character. The love story and the horror both come from the same thing which is his isolation , his loneliness and the pain of growing up.
Let Me In is out in UK cinemas today. Don’t watch it instead of Let the Right One In, watch it as well as.