A while back during Austin’s Fantastic Fest 2010, I had the chance to speak with some of the cast and crew of Let Me In. With the film now out on Blu-Ray, I figured I’d re-post this interview. Check it out below and enjoy.
Taking time from a busy schedule, Matt Reeves and some of the film’s stars took time to sit down and discuss Let Me In, now available on Blu-Ray. Let Me In is based on a very popular Swedish horror novel called Let The Right One In, about an outcast 12-year-old boy and his tender and horrific relationship with a vampire who looks like a young girl.
The novel was made into a Swedish movie of the same name. So technically a remake, Reeves discusses the project as more than a “remake,” but another interpretation of that film–making it relatable to an American audience. He says “most remakes are terrible. I think people were worried I’d bastardize it. I think what we do is watch the original with fascination, then put it away and do what we need to do.”
Asked if he felt any pressure making a remake so close on the heels of the original, Reeves said, “I feel no pressure…I feel incredibly honored to have the opportunity.” Reeves said the book and film spoke powerfully to him. The themes of loneliness and love and the painful realities of adolescence reminded him of his own youth and that time of life. “The nature of the complexity of the tones in Lindqvist’s book, it’s all about that time of life…the juxtaposition between the innocence of that age and the primal instinct…those extremities, that’s just pre-adolescence.”
The themes of good and evil are important to the story line as well. Reeves wanted to take the story and make it relatable to an American audience. He discusses the first chapter of the Swedish novel as being set in a small town that had no religion, and was thus unprepared for the evil about to be unleashed on it. To make it distinctly American, he changed the dynamic of religion. He set it in a small town in New Mexico, where there’s the snow and cold, and an overwhelming sense of old religion. Reeves said that, as it’s set in the 1980s, that the Reagan era added a nice backdrop to the religious themes and the play between good and evil. “The Reagan era talked about evil as being outside of us, that people are fundamentally good. ‘Religion’ became an American context. How the boy (Owen) feels these feelings, and doesn’t know if he’s evil, or what evil is…evil is much more insidious because the actions aren’t black and white, people do things for non-evil reasons.”
Young star Kodi Smit-McPhee (Owen) talked about the role, and being part of a horror movie. When asked if he was ever scared on set, Smit-McPhee said, “I wish audiences could be on set and know how it is to see the fake bodies and blood–so not scary.” Reeves added, “It’s so make-believe on set, protecting them (young actors) wasn’t an issue.”
Smit-McPhee said about taking on the role, “I don’t really look for depressing roles, but I think I just liked the script.” Reeves said “We had a saying on the set that Kodi was our Montgomery Clift. The movie is challenging, these are adult themes told on the shoulders of these two young kids. When I saw Kodi I knew we could do this film.”
Elias Koteas plays a cop following the grisly clues Abby leaves behind, and the lead bully tormenting Owen’s character is Kenny, played by Dylan Minnette. When asked how he liked doing genre films, Koteas said, “I loved horror films growing up, but I don’t prefer one genre from another.” Koteas instead chooses parts based on the script and his character’s journey. “I felt like this cop was someone retracing his steps, he felt like a ghost to me investigating his own journey…that made sense to me, that was the start for me.”
Minnette talked about playing the bully. He said he didn’t want to play it in just one dimension. “I tried to feel like Kenny would feel, and push for that. I never bullied anyone or had any bullies.” Of the movie Minnette gave the opinion of a youth in this modern age, “It’s not a film you’ve seen before, audiences will say ‘this is refreshing,’ the vampires don’t sparkle, I think they’ll end up liking it.”