SEE: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Låt den Rätte Komma In)
Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl in Kick-Ass) stars as Abby, a mysterious 12-year-old who moves next door to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road), a social outcast who is viciously bullied at school. In his loneliness, Owen forms a profound bond with his new neighbor, but he can't help noticing that Abby is like no one he has ever met before. As a string of grisly murders grips his wintry New Mexico town, Owen has to confront the reality that this seemingly innocent girl is actually a savage vampire.
Let Me In, a haunting and provocative thriller written and directed by filmmaker Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), is based on the best-selling Swedish novel Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let The Right One In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and the highly acclaimed film of the same name. The film's score is by Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up, "Lost"). Let Me In marks the return of legendary British horror brand Hammer Films and is the first movie to come out from the studio in over 30 years.
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."
FINDING THE RIGHT ONES
With the emotional resonance of the film resting on the narrow shoulders of its preteen protagonists, the filmmakers knew the chemistry between Abby and Owen was crucial. They also knew that finding actors of the appropriate age to play such nuanced characters would be extremely challenging.
"In the original Swedish film, the two kids are so wonderful and their relationship is so powerful," says Reeves. "I knew that if we couldn't find kids who were capable of that, we shouldn't make the movie. This is an adult story in many ways. The emotional complexities of the relationship are very mature." Read more
BLOOD AND SNOW: BEHIND THE SCENES OF LET ME IN
In search of a memorable backdrop for the film, a location with authentic 1980s atmosphere and a snowy, desolate landscape, Matt Reeves originally planned to set Let Me In in Colorado.
Then he discovered Los Alamos, New Mexico. "At first, I thought, the New Mexico desert?" he admits. "How's that going to work? Then I learned it was high desert, and it does snow there. In fact, in trying to transfer the story to an American landscape, New Mexico was brilliant. It's classic John Ford country with iconic Western vistas." Read more
HAUNTING AND EVOCATIVE: THE MUSIC OF LET ME IN
The music in Let Me In needed to serve two purposes, according to Reeves. The original score, for which he turned to award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, would set the tenuous emotional tone for the film. The soundtrack's songs, selected with the help of renowned music consultant George Drakoulias, would help evoke the film's 1980s setting. Read more
Originally founded in 1934, the legendary British horror film studio Hammer Films has delivered a hugely successful run of movies over the years including Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Quatermass Xperiment. Purchased by Exclusive Media Group, the iconic and beloved UK film brand has been revamped for 2010 and returns with Let Me In, the first new film production from the studio in over 30 years. Read more
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MATT REEVES (Writer and Director) came to feature-film prominence in 2008 as the director of the acclaimed sci-fi horror hit Cloverfield. The modestly budgeted film set a domestic record for a January release and went on to gross more than $175 million worldwide.
Prior to that film, the writer, director and producer was best known as one of the creators of the popular television series "Felicity," starring Golden Globe Award®-winning actress Keri Russell. Reeves served as executive producer with partner and co-creator J.J. Abrams. He frequently directed episodes during the show's four-season run, including the 1998 pilot for the WB network.
Reeves made his feature directorial debut with the 1996 dark comedy The Pallbearer, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, David Schwimmer and Barbara Hershey. He developed the screenplay with co-writer Jason Katims through Robert Redford's Sundance Institute. In 1999, Reeves co-wrote and co-produced James Gray's critically acclaimed feature The Yards, starring Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron.
Reeves first gained industry attention with his award-winning short "Mr. Petrified Forrest" after graduating from USC's prestigious film school. He got his start in Hollywood when a screenplay he penned in college with classmate Richard Hatem was purchased by Warner Bros. in 1995 and later turned into Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.
For the small screen, Reeves helmed the pilot episodes of "Gideon's Crossing" and "Miracles" for ABC, "Conviction" for NBC and episodes of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street" and ABC's "Relativity."
His upcoming projects include writing, directing and producing the independent dramatic thriller The Invisible Woman for Gotham-based GreeneStreet Films.
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