'Let Me In': Chloe Moretz on playing a vampire; Matt Reeves talks 'Let the Right One In' comparison, and how 'Twilight' saved his film

It’s easy to fall for 2008 Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, the dark and delicate tale of a lonely 12-year-old boy who connects with an equally haunted young girl. Except she may not really be that young…or even exactly human. Sure, the movie is filed under horror, but its darkness is rooted in a tender coming-of-age story, directed by Tomas Alfredson from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel. I’ve seen Let the Right One In six times, own two DVD versions (since the subtitles were so royally screwed-up the first time), and I’ve even sampled footage of main characters Eli and Oskar in this little video series I produce called Idolatry. I guess you could say I’m a fan. So, like many devotees, I had an Eli-is-hungry-now-get-out-of-the-way meltdown when the Hollywood remake was announced. I envisioned older actors. I pictured an overload of sentiment, or an overload of gratuitous action and “thrills,” or just plain overload. In short, I could only imagine that the unique spirit of the original (and the novel) would be more or less ripped to shreds by a crazed horde of demonic execs and then burned in a hospital bed, all in the name of reaching a broader audience that simply cannot be bothered to read subtitles. Skräcken! [The horror!]

Now I’ve seen the just-released American version Let Me In twice. I’m not going to review it since that’s movie critic Owen Gleiberman’s domain and I’m just the video guy, but I will say one thing to my fellow die-hard fans of the original who might still be on the fence: You’re going to want to hop off right about now to see for yourself how director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and his two young leads managed to personalize this material. After all, even Owen gave the new film a B+, and we all remember his controversial take on Let the Right One In. I’ll get over it someday. Maybe.

In the clip below, shot at New York’s SVA Theater Thursday night, I spoke to Reeves about the storytelling approach in his version vs. the original, parts of the film that echo Rear Window, his thematic deployment of Ronald Reagan’s TV speeches (the film is set in the 1980s), and how he used extensive close-ups to bring us nearer to our tragically bullied hero (now named Owen; coincidence? You decide.) played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road).

I also talked to Reeves and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) about Hit Girl’s take on the character of Abby (formerly Eli). The actress had never seen Let the Right One In, and in this clip, she discusses her entry point into the character, and how to humanize the portrayal of a vampire.

Many fans, of course, feared that the remake would alter the story–or, at the very least, the ages of the leads–to capitalize on the popularity of Bella and Edward, but as Reeves points out in our final clip, the release of Twilight ironically helped give him what he wanted all along: the opportunity to differentiate, and to remain true to the source material.

So, PopWatchers, are you planning to check out Let Me In this weekend? And if you have already, what did you think? If you’ve seen both, do you feel like the new version lived up to the standard set by the Swedish film? Let the blood flow in the comments…um, below. (I seriously did not mean to rhyme there.)

Comments (91 total) Add your comment
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  • amie

    I havent seen Let Me In but I am really looking toward to it. Loved the original.

  • jj

    i will give it a shot.

  • LOL

    Hit-Girl rocks!

  • JMaG

    I don’t think I would be scared of a film that was in subtitles? I’m glad they remade it, but I will eventually check out the original.

  • Elizabeth

    Saw it today, not realizing it was a remake, nor did I know what it was about. Great acting, very well shot, but wholly disturbing. The disturbing outweighed the artistry for me, unfortunately.

    • aleksa

      If you found this movie disturbing, it’s NOTHING compared to the original book.

      • Talia

        Agreed! Haha. I was a bit shocked at all the things that Lindqvist cut out when he adapted it into the screenplay.

        Anyways, I can’t wait to see this version! Chloe Moretz is beyond awesome.

      • Andrea

        I think there were so many details in the book that it was impossible to do it without making it a 2-parter. I loved reading the book, but I thought the original movie was also brilliant without alot of extraneous stuff that didn’t add anything (that is the habit of so many movies these days)…am looking forward to seeing the American version!

    • T

      I think it was meant to be distrubing. I think there are many points in the film where you cross yourself because Lindqvist really plays with the idea of innocence and evil. As we get to know the characters, they actually intersect: we see owen who is an innocent soul wishing he could do these atrocious acts to get even with his tormentors. Then we get see Abby, who is actually burdened with this curse. Outwardly she is evil but within her we she remnants of her innocence. And so it really makes you question who is truly evil. And though the thoughts Owen has of getting even, or the murders Abby commits because she must are no way excusable, you almost finding your rooting for them because, in a way, they are the best thing that has happened to each other. But it is also the tragedy of the story because we realize the ultimate fate of our hero, Owen. It is a dynamic entanglement of innocence and evil. It was what made me fall in love with the story and the characters.

  • Colleen

    Elizabeth: You should watch the original Swedish version because you will find the opposite affect: the artistry outweighs the disturbing.

    • JAM

      Totally agree. Will probably see this but the original Let the Right One in is gorgeous to look at. Just seeing all the clips of the remake – not enough artistry.

      • Brian

        I am art. Willing to try anything once. Art. I will not deny it.

  • ScaryJerry

    I’ve seen both versions and the American version takes the story deeper, sidetracks the extra characters, and really gives us a clear view of the little serial in the making. My movie snobbery hates to admit it, but this AMAZING remake tops the original.

    • Sean

      Im a huge fan of the original and after seeing Let Me In today I will sum it up by saying it indeed is the rare remake that is not only good but is actually better than the original.

    • Michael

      I disagree. I feel like both of the child actors didn’t give nearly as good of performances as the ones in the original film. Also in the original, Eli is more monstrous even when she isn’t trying to get blood, you just look at her and she looks disturbed and used up in a way you don’t see with children. Meanwhile, Abby is just a cute little girl with a monstrous side she can’t control, she isn’t the monster like Eli is, she just has a monster inside of her. And I liked the idea in the original of Oskar falling in love with this thing, that’s not even a girl and he doesn’t care. While Chloe Moretz, even in this film, is just about any 12 year old boy’s fantasy. But Eli, is a freak through and through and looks it on the outside, she can’t tuck her monster deep inside of her like Abby can. And I feel like the actor who played Owen, was cast based solely on his unique look, but the actor and the character never sored like Oskar did; for example the seen where he taps on the supposed barrier that prevents Eli from coming in.

      • Sean

        Eli is actually a castrated boy. Not entirely obvious in the movie, but it is described quite explicitly in the book.

    • Hemi D

      When I heard they were doing a remake I thought It would be impossible for Hollywood to create a movie that could match the original. I was wrong. ‘Let Me In’ is simply stunning and pays tribute to ‘Let The Right One’ In stylish fashion.

  • Clayton

    I saw it and liked it very much, though not quite as much as the original.

  • Kevin Anderson

    Virtually a carbon copy of the Swedish version – but most relieved that the remake did not exploit the concepts and plot of the original in order to appeal to the current American fascination with vampire films. As a film, this is good cinema. As a remake it changes a few things (some for better, some for not so worse). Acting/casting is great as well. I predict that the new film will have legs and do well at the box office. Possible Supporting Actress nod to Chloe Moretz…

  • Nate

    Chloe Moretz is greatest actress of her generation. Chloe Moretz was creepily masterful in ‘LET ME IN’, which was a great film.

  • Michael

    If you’ve seen the original you want miss anything by skipping this version. The original was edgier, and took more risks with the depiction of the children. However, if you’re not interested in watching a foreign film, this movie is pretty good in contrast to the typical output of Hollywood–but it is still very much the Hollywood version of the original.

  • Terri

    Saw the film last night and I thought it was fantastic!

  • m1

    I have the original from Netflix, so I will watch it next week (I have work to do; one film per weekend tends to be my limit). I had a choice yesterday between the original and The Last Song, and I went with the latter. BIG mistake.

    • mary q contrary

      I’m so glad you realize what a mistake that was, however, I’m questioning how on earth you made that call in the first place.

  • BJohnson

    I am gonna catch it. I love the original too.

  • fred

    I read the book two years ago and loved it, I also saw the swedish film and loved it, I want to see this one as well and will the first chance I get. However, my question is, in the book the character that is played by Richard Jenkins in this film becomes an undead monstrosity for the last hundred pages or so, it was gruesome and terrifying, the swedish film left this part out, does anyone know if the american version includes this?

    • Sean

      A zombie with an erection!? I think it’s safe to assume that it is not in the American version. I haven’t seen it though…

    • scott

      The American version is almost a carbon copy of the Swedish version. Especially after the first 25 minutes or so.

    • WhitneyD

      The American movie is a remake of the Swedish movie- not a different adaptation of the book. So no, not in it.

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