Get­ting it right

LetMeIn di­rec­tor was re­luc­tant to re­make a for­eign hit ... at least at first.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By ROBERT W. BUT­LER

Let Me In di­rec­tor was re­luc­tant to re­make for­eign hit ... at first.

THAT long, pained groan you heard a few months back? That was fans of the Swedish vam­pire hit Let The Right One In upon learn­ing that Hollywood was re­mak­ing the movie about a lonely 12-year-old boy and a vam­pirous lit­tle girl next door.

Matt Reeves can iden­tify. He did end up di­rect­ing the Amer­i­can­ised ver­sion, Let Me In.

But Reeves, the man be­hind 2008’s mon­ster-tears-up-New-York hit Clover­field, said it took some time be­fore he could jus­tify his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the re­make. Af­ter all, when Tin­sel­town tries to Amer­i­can­ise a great for­eign film, usu­ally a lot is lost in trans­la­tion.

“This was be­fore the Swedish film had come out in Amer­ica, and I was try­ing to sell a script I’d been work­ing on for a long time,” Reeves said. “It was my pas­sion project, a sort of a Hitch­cock thriller. The peo­ple of Over­ture Films read my script, said they loved it but that it was too dark and small for them. But they men­tioned they were purs­ing the Amer­i­can rights to this Swedish film.”

Reeves protested that he wasn’t in­ter­ested in do­ing a re­make but took home a DVD of Let The Right One In.

“So I’m watch­ing it, and I’m say­ing, ‘This movie is amaz­ing!’ I couldn’t be­lieve that it was work­ing the same emo­tional ter­rain I’d been con­cen­trat­ing on in my screen­play. Both films were set in a cheap apart­ment com­plex with a play­ground court­yard.

“And then this Swedish movie is a vam­pire story. That was ab­so­lutely bril­liant. They were us­ing a vam­pire story to study the pain of grow­ing up.”

Reeves was so im­pressed that he told the suits at Over­ture that he didn’t think they should even at­tempt a re­make.

“I told them it was too good as it was. They said that since it was Swedish a whole big chunk of the Amer­i­can pub­lic would never see this great story.”

Reeves still wasn’t con­vinced. But he was in­trigued enough to read the orig­i­nal novel by John Aj­vide Lindqvist (who also wrote the Let The Right One In screen­play).

“The novel had even more de­tail about the boy’s painful, hu­mil­i­at­ing child­hood. It was like a Stephen King horror story – lots of scope and breadth but filled with de­tail about a kid’s life.”

Reeves be­gan cor­re­spond­ing with Lindqvist, who told him the book was in­spired by his own mis­er­able boy­hood.

“I started think­ing there were ways to trans­late it to Amer­i­can id­iom. I told Lindqvist that I wanted to make an Amer­i­can movie that would be faith­ful to his vi­sion. And I told him that I to­tally con­nected with that kid’s life. The thing is, other than the vam­pires, that book was to­tally Lindqvist’s life. So I felt re­ally re­spon­si­ble to him to get it right.”

In the end, Over­ture Films lost pro­duc­tion rights to Ham­mer Films (al­though the stu­dio is dis­tribut­ing the movie). But by that time Reeves had Lindqvist’s whole­hearted sup­port. He landed the gig.

“My view was that this wasn’t a typ­i­cal horror story. It’s not about shock­ing vi­o­lence so much as it’s about this sense of doom. This kid’s life was so mis­er­able that it was like liv­ing in a horror story.”

When Reeves cast Kodi Smit-McPhee, 14, and Chloe Grace Moretz, 13, as his two leads, he hadn’t yet seen their break­through per­for­mances in, re­spec­tively, The Road and Kick-Ass.

“These two are so smart and tal­ented,” Reeves said. “They un­der­stood that, han­dled im­prop­erly, a story like this could be re­ally melo­dra­matic. Laugh­able, even.”

De­spite the down­beat na­ture of the ma­te­rial, Reeves said, his set in Los Alamos, New Mex­ico, was re­mark­ably light­hearted, thanks to the kids.

“The two started what they called ‘prank wars’ stuff­ing snow in each other’s cos­tumes. Once the cam­era was rolling they were very com­mit­ted, but the rest of the time there was an at­mos­phere of play. They were laugh­ing at the fake blood. It was like Hal­loween for them. That’s what’s odd ... watch­ing those scenes in the movie, they’re re­ally in­tense. But not in the film­ing. Film­ing vi­o­lence is ac­tu­ally very me­chan­i­cal.” – The Kansas City Star/McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice n LetMeIn opens in Malaysian cine­mas on Nov 11.

More of Moretz: Chloe Grace Moretz, who was in Kick-Ass, is a lead char­ac­ter in

LetMeIn.

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