Will vampire flick “Let Me In” live up to the original?
Adapting “Let the Right One In,” the critically acclaimed and universally loved Swedish horror film, would be a difficult task for any filmmaker.
The original film, about the relationship between a much-bullied boy and an eternally young girl, was an atmospheric thriller elevated to new heights by the beautifully nuanced performances by its two young stars. A children’s fairytale with adult sensibilities, “Let the Right One In” subtly blended a tender coming-of-age romance with moments of true, unadulterated terror.
Now, two years later, comes the American film “Let Me In.”
Writer-director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) discussed the film this July with castmembers Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Chloe Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
According to Reeves, casting the perfect actors for the roles of Owen (Oskar in the original) and Abby (originally Eli) was paramount.
“If we couldn’t find the kids, we wouldn’t have the movie,” he said. “It’s an adult story. It’s a complex emotional story that falls on two 12-year-olds to play.”
When Moretz auditioned for the role of Abby, a sweet, quiet girl turns out to be a bloodthirsty vampire, Reeves said, “She showed me how she could be innocent and she showed me how she could be defiant, and then she allowed herself to be primal.”
Moretz compared her character to the fierce, foul-mouthed crimefighter she plays in “Kick-Ass.”
“Hit Girl and Abby are actually very similar, only one is about 200 years older than the other,” she said. “They are both very, very strong girls. They know what they want and they’re very mature.”
Smit-McPhee, who plays shy, neglected Owen, and Jenkins, who plays Abby’s taciturn guardian, also talked about their roles in “Let Me In.”
The older actor said he researched serial killers to prepare for his role.
“I love the idea of making a human being out of somebody who does what he does,”Jenkins said. “What was his childhood like?
In addition to casting American actors, Reeves moved the story from suburbs of Stockholm in the early 1980s to Reagan-era Colorado. He describes the snowy locale (actually Los Alamos, N.M.) as “the quintessential American community.”
In fact, he said, many aspects of the film were taken from his own childhood — including Owen’s obssession with Now and Later candies. He also consulted John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 book, “Let The Right One In,” which inspired the 2008 film.
“I was so fascinated by the way Lindqvist took a vampire film and made it about adolescence,” Reeves said. “I thought it was a new spin on an old, old story.”
In addition, the director found inspiration in Hitchcock thrillers “Rear Window” and “Dial M for Murder.”
Although “Let Me In” is yet another American remake of a foreign hit, Reeves said fans have nothing to be worried about.
“I know a lot of people are worried,” he said. “They’re very cynical. They’re like, ‘This is a masterpiece.’ And I agree.”
“Let Me In” opens Friday in theaters everywhere.
Image courtesy of MovieWeb.com.
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