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LET ME IN

About The Production
Even in a pop-culture landscape littered with the bloodthirsty undead, Let Me In stands out as a very different kind of vampire movie. A poignant coming-of-age story as well as a bone-chilling horror film, it is also a haunting meditation on the difficult and often painful transition into adolescence.

"Each of the stories that are so popular now uses the vampire legend in a different way,” observes writer and director, Matt Reeves. "Most often they use it to explore people's sexual nature. But this story takes the same archetype and uses it to explore something entirely different.”

Let Me In is based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's bestselling Swedish novel Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In) and the highly acclaimed Swedish film of the same name. That film took home the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. Its overwhelming popular success attracted the attention of both Hammer Films and Overture Films.

Simon Oakes, vice chairman of Exclusive Media Group, and president and CEO of Hammer Films, says the company was immediately attracted to the original story with a unique take on the vampire genre. Lindqvist's novel first came to the attention of Hammer in 2007, followed by the Swedish film based on it. "We tracked it very early on,” says Oakes, "It is a story that should be available to a wider audience. Even though competition for the material was stiff, we developed a relationship with the producers, and, as a result, we were able to secure the rights.

Soon after the successful release of his 2008 thriller, Cloverfield, Reeves was approached by Overture to adapt the book into a screenplay for an English-language film set in the U.S. He says he was immediately hooked by a tale that reminded him of his own childhood. "It really touched me. Lindqvist and Tomas Alfredson, who directed the Swedish film, created a powerful metaphor for the turmoil of adolescence.”

When Hammer acquired the rights to the film, Reeves was even more determined to participate in the project. "I thought it would be extremely exciting to have the film made by Hammer given their historic contributions to the genre,” he says. "I knew I had to find a way to connect to this movie. The people at Overture also loved this project so much that they also wanted to be a part of it and actually ended up partnering with Hammer.”

Reeves' enthusiasm made him the top candidate for the job, according to Oakes. "Matt had read the novel and seen the original film, and was very positive about finding a way to make it his own. He had such a passionate connection to the story, and that was worth everything. He was determined to remain faithful to the spirit of Lindqvist's story, while expanding it in ways to include his own vision.”

After reading the novel, Reeves wrote to author Lindqvist. "I told him I was drawn to the story, but not because it's a great genre story—which it is,” says the director. "The novel wouldn't let me go because it reminded me so much of my childhood.”

Reeves was surprised to learn that Lindqvist was also familiar with his work. "He had seen Cloverfield. He said it struck him as a new twist on a very old tale, and that's what he was trying to do with Let The Right One In; so when he heard about my interest in doing an American version, he was actually excited.

"But upon hearing about my strong personal reaction to the story, he said he became even more excited, because this, it turns out, was the story of his childhood,” continues Reeves. "It was very personal for him, and I completely connected to that. I knew there had to be a way that I could take the essence of his story, and translate it to the American landscape I knew from my youth.”

Let the Right One In already had a passionate international fan base, and Reeves shared their reverence for the source material. Let Me In transports the action to a small town in the mountains of New Mexico, but is faithful to much of the action of the novel and the first film. "At one point, it was even suggested that we might age the kids up for an American audience,” says Reeves. "But that would have destroyed the story. It's about this specific time of life. It's about how difficult it is for a 12-year-old boy who is mercilessly bullied and has no friends. It's all about the innocence and discovery of that age the juxtaposition of light and dark.”

Reeves continues, "I was very concerned with finding ways to translate this story from 1980s Sweden to 1980s America—which was Reagan America. The Cold War was still at its height when Ronald Reagan gave his ‘Evil Empire' speech, and the president was telling the country that evil was something that existed outside of us—the Soviets were evil, but as Americans, we were fundamentally ‘good.' And I thought to myself, what would it be like for a 12-year-old like Owen, who was harboring all these very dark feelings deep inside, to grow up in that context? It would be terribly confusing.”

Although the filmmakers embraced the supernatural elements of the story, they insisted on making the emotion as realistic as possible. "With a genre film, I think the most exciting thing is being able to smuggle a bigger idea in under the surface,” says Reeves. "I think that's what makes this story different. It isn't the usual vampire fantasy; it's something that I hope people can really relate to.”

Vicki Dee Rock, the film's co-producer, credits Let Me In's emotional resonance to Reeves' extraordinary connection with the material and the characters. "It's a comment on humanity,” she says. "You could make the mistake of thinking it's just about vampires, but it is really about how alienated we can feel and the price we'd be willing to pay to be loved.”

For Simon Oakes, the production of this film has taken Hammer Films full circle, once again pioneering a new approach to a popular genre. "In a sense, we set the bar for vampire films,” he says. "In the Dracula movies of the late ‘50s, Hammer transformed the vampire, played by Christopher Lee, into quite a sensual figure. I think that we set the tone for that approach to the vampire lore and it has lasted for decades.”

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