Let The Right One In was one of the most startling vampire films in years, so Matt Reeves faced a challenge making the American remake fresh. Reeves tells us what he kept, what he added, and what had to go.
We listened to you talk about Let Me In at SXSW, and the stigma that is attached to doing a remake of this classic. So how do you feel when the first teaser trailer came out and everyone, including us, said it looked like a shot-for-shot remake?
You know the truth is, it's not a shot-for-shot remake. That trailer is 59 seconds of footage from the story which covers much of the same ground. My director of photography I specifically said, "Please don't see this film." And he hadn't seen it, and he's a brilliant cinematographer, a young guy named Greig Fraser. He shot Bright Star. He's just so talented. I asked the actors not to watch the film. Kodi hadn't seen it, Chloe hadn't seen it, Richard hadn't seen it.
We in no way set out to do a shot-for-shot remake. I'm sure there are shots that look the same, because they are the same circumstances, [but] there are going to be many shots that look different. Listen, you'll be able to do six more of those things [trailer comparisons], I'm sure. But you'll also be able to see the difference. There's no question, though it's very faithful to the story. To me it was fun to see, to be honest with you. Greig was more like "oh no what are they talking about. I haven't even seen the movie!" But the thing is — I think the fun is — I'm very excited about showing people the movie, and seeing how people respond. Some people may hate it, some people may love it. But it's been under wraps for so long, I'm just very proud of what's in it. The whole thing from the beginning was, you can't make this movie without those relationships working. It's the one thing that I cared about. It's a genre film that's really a guise for a coming of age film.
In the first movie adaptation of the book, they do hint at the androgynous aspect of the character Eli. Do you address that as well?
If you've read the book, then you know that when Oskar is watching her undress, what you're seeing is a sign of castration. If you read the book. Which when I saw the movie, I hadn't read the book, and then I read the book and then I understood the whole story, and I thought, "Wow, that's very, very interesting." And there isn't anything in [Let Me In] that is going to change that interpretation. One of the things I like about that particular age and these particular characters is, she is in a way more masculine than he is. And he is, in a way, more feminine than she is. And that's one of the thing about kids that age, we tried to play with that androgyny.
There was a moment in the trailer that looked it was taking place in the pool. Which made me exclaim, "are they remaking the pool scene from the original? How can they do that? Can it be done?" So I wanted to ask you.
You have to have the pool scene. You have to have it, of course. That scene is amazing. The original was done with these gorgeous restrained masters. And they play out very, very deliberately, it's a really beautiful style in which the movie was shot. I loved it. The approach that I wanted to take, I loved the restraint and I think this film has that sort of restraint, and it has a somewhat deliberate pace. But I wanted, as much as possible, because it's a coming-of-age story, because it's what I related to, I wanted the audience to experience through Owen's point of view. I would say it's inspired a little by Hitchcock [films I saw] when I was a kid, which are very point of view driven, and less objective and remote.
While there's a beautiful Scandinavian sensibility of that film. This is an attempt at more POV film making and seeing things the way Owen might see them. We approached the pool scene from his point of view. I hope people see that, actually there's one scene in particular where we really identify with Richard's character [Richard Jenkins, who plays "The Father"]. To me it was inspired by Dial M for Murder, the sequence where they're going to kill Grace Kelly, but it all goes wrong. By the end you find yourself actually identifying with the killer. You feel bad for him by the end, that's kind of the visual approach we tried to take with this film. Very point of view driven.
[Edit: note we actually saw this scene at Comic Con and here is Annalee's description of the incredibly moving footage]