SDCC ’10 Interview: Let Me In Director Matt Reeves

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On the themes and relationship dynamic in the remake

Matt Reeves wants to make sure you know that what he is doing with Let Me In is not Hollywood-izing or remaking the original but bringing a new film with similar elements that you’ve seen before. Thus, when he decided to slightly change the title from the original’s Let the Right One In, it was a way to differentiate it slightly, but to also say, yes, we are also doing something that you will find familiar.

At its heart, Let Me In is a coming of age story. An adult movie for sure, but centering on two kids that find each other at a crossroads. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is constantly bullied at school while his soon-to-be-friend Abby (Chloe Moretz) holds a dark secret of her own but retains some of the innocence of a girl that had something horrific happen to her early in life.

The bullying in particular is the metaphor for the movie, Reeves says. So, he went about making those scenes as horrific as the actual horror scenes. Owen is constantly in a state of dread. It is not so much the terrible things that will happen to him but the idea that these terrible things that are coming is what really draws Owen to latch on Abby, Reeves says.

“Those murderous thoughts all come from the condition of his life that he is bullied mercilessly at school and he has to anticipate that humiliation and that pain on a daily basis,” Reeves said. “How could that not drive you to dark thoughts?”

It also those dark thoughts that allow Owen to become attached to Abby in Let Me In, especially as she tells him to fight back and do the things that he has been afraid to do.

“There is a kind of liberation in that,” Reeves said. “When something is a dark fantasy that is one thing but when you actually enact it there are consequences. On one hand he can embrace her but as he discovers her true nature, which is she acts them out. He has to accept her but he also sees the horror of it. You have this fantasy of killing your enemies and for a brief moment it would be a moment of victory and then you’d be stuck in the aftermath of the horror of it. This is at the core of the movie, it doesn’t get into the pure revenge of things without keeping in mind the terrible horror of what might actually occur if you enact those things.”

Abby represents that side of Owen that he can’t express. It is the fantasies that a 12-year-old can’t have.

“That was the guiding principal of what I would keep and what I would not [from the original]. The original film was done in this beautiful stately sort of way, and everything was detached and Scandinavian and gorgeous. It was very eerie and scary in how withheld it was. I wanted to take it further into Owen’s point of view. In doing that, it made certain things shift. There are some things that you might not see as much of or at all because it wouldn’t have to do with his point of view.”

Let Me In is more about the relationship between these two central characters with the backdrop being that Abby just happens to be a vampire. So when casting two children as the leads Reeves was looking for something special.

“[I looked for] two kids that could emotionally handle the complexity of the characters and the story,” Reeves said. “Frankly it is an adult film even though it is about two children. That’s a tremendous burden to put on two kids. Try to find kids that could authentically express themselves.”

Luckily, not only did he get that, but he also got children that were not afraid to help out in the production of the film. Kodi gave Reeves many ideas for the film, specifically when Elias Koteas’ character is walking through Abby’s apartment.

“He would say ‘from here it looks really, really cool.’ And he was right,” Reeves said. “There is one section where she has all these toys around he said ‘it would be really cool when Elias is walking he steps on one of these toys.’ I said ‘That’s a fantastic idea.’ I tried to plan as much as possible but allow for as much stuff to happen in the moment as possible.”

Let Me In opens in theaters on October 1.

Source: Peter Brown