Prior to the release of Let Me In tomorrow in the U.K. - I had the pleasure of meeting the films director, Cloverfields Matt Reeves, and star Kodi Smit-McPhee from the excellent Cormac McCarthy adaptation The Road. There has been a lot of criticism directed towards the movie since it was announced, by virtue of the fact it is a remake of the critically acclaimed Swedish film Let The Right One In that was made just two years ago. I asked Matt Reeves why he wanted to make an English language version of the film.
I was first introduced to the film by the distributors before it was released and was intrigued to read the book, which was originally published in America under the title of Let Me In because the publishers felt Let The Right One didnt travel well. But after the success of the movie in Sweden and around the world the novel was given that title. But Let Me In stayed with me and is why my movie has that title. After reading the novel I was moved to tell this story that didnt shy away from things; it is light, dark, perverse, innocent and doesnt pull any punches. But ultimately for me it was the juxtaposition between harsh, brutal violence with this very tender and innocent love story that got me and made me want to make the film.In so many respects Reeves adaptation is very similar to the original; to call it shot by shot would be unfair, but it certainly is close. I wanted to know if there was ever any consideration of altering the story, changing the location, twisting the genders, ultimately making changes that would stay true to the themes and morals of the story for new audiences and give viewers of the original something new to expect.
No, I really loved and respected the Lindqvist story and wanted to do a movie that expressed my admiration for that story as apposed to putting my stamp all over it and making it my own. I never thought about changing the temporal area because I loved the contrast between the red blood and the white virgin ground as if that was a metaphor for what the film is about. I fell in love with the coming of age story and that is what I wanted to stay faithful to.His desire to stay truthful and respect the original material is admirable, and in many ways justifies making a new version which will definitely be more accessible to the English speaking world on the whole; anything that draws attention to Let the Right One In and John Ajvide Linqvist is certainly a good thing. Reeves has a very warm, calm and charming demeanour, which was in complete contrast with his young star. Pale, barely five-feet tall and very slight of build, Kodi was swallowed by the giant couch he sat on. And yet, much like the characters he has played, he speaks with great maturity and commands your attention. When I asked him if he based his character on anyone and whether he had seen the original movie he answered with calculated honesty:
I dont really believe in basing characters on people and I intentionally didnt watch the original because I didnt want to have that in my mind when I was acting. Plus Matt said we were going to do our own thing. My Dad makes me read the script constantly so I can get to know the character and learn about the other characters around me and thats how I build my character.At just fourteen this is Australian born Kodis second major American movie. The child star who has been acting since he was nine gives great credit to his family and his father:
I started acting for fun; my Dad is an actor, my sister is an actress, it came normal, but it got me places really fast Everything that I put into my performances comes from the preparation I do with my Dad. We work really hard on it and he makes sure Im prepared and comfortable with what Im doing.The boy in the movie is subject to a harsh campaign of bullying; I asked Kodi if he had ever been the subject of bullying at school and whether he was able to draw from these experiences. He hadnt, per se:
I haven been bullied in the way my character was, but Ive been annoyed at school and you can take those feelings of frustration and use them. But I dont like to bring my own problems into my work, otherwise youre stuck with them all day.To my surprise it was the director who was the bullied one, and had drew from these scars of childhood intimidation to capture and convey the harsh scenes that are abundant in the film.
I was bullied. And also like the child (in Let Me In) my parents went through a divorce, so I could empathise with those feelings of confusion and humiliation and isolation. And I was singled out and identified as a girl, because before you get to that age when you start to develop and before your sexuality starts to be displayed, kids can look very androgynous and I guess I leaned to the feminine. So it was very difficulty.But it is Reeves who has had the last laugh, and found freedom from his childhood hardships making 8mm films, which have of course proven to be the making of the man who is now one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood. I wanted to know whether he felt a great weight of expectation directing this, the first film produced by the newly re-opened Hammer Films Production Company, which was revered as the king of horror movies in the 60s and 70s.
I did, yeah quite a bit. I mean I loved Hammer Horrors growing up. They terrified me; I used to peak through my fingers at them. I used to watch them late at night when they would be shown and The Horror of Dracula was my favourite. So I wanted to do something that paid tribute to the great movies of old, which this does; its a vampire movie, but at the same time do something different to show a change of times.The surprise absentee from the conference was Kodis co-star Chloe Moretz. The much-in-demand, turbo-charged teenager fresh off mega hit Kick Ass was sadly engaged elsewhere, but both the director and her co-star had nothing but praise for her and the immense performance she gives in Let Me In. Kodi said,
Shes just full of energy and always happy. By the end of the day I would tired, she would still be running around with a smile on her face.And the star was unabashed to admit being slightly unconvinced about his chances in a fight against the real life Hit Girl.
She showed me her moves and shes pretty scary. Chloe is a Ninja.Almost inevitably, the second I quizzed Reeves about the much-rumoured Cloverfield 2, the door swung open and right on cue my time was up. As they were being whisked off to their next interview I jokingly said, is it going to be set in London? To which Reeves played along with, Yeah, its actually being filmed right now. Dont look out that window! It certainly would be an interesting choice of setting. I could see that monster trampling through Leicester Square like some diva who has just had their performance on the big screen booed and berated; or tossing the London Eye like a discus across the capital. Stay tuned to Obsessed With Film for all the latest news on Cloverfield 2 and a full review of Let Me In, coming very soon!