The deeper I get into John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let Me In, the more I see how the original movie barely skimmed the surface, however gracefully it may have skated across the icy tale. With a more horrifying sense of creeping doubt and downright despair, the novel pulls you into a vortex of intricate plot threads far more elaborate than Tomas Alfredson chose to explore in his brilliant adaptation. There’s enough dark material in these 500 pages for a 6-hour miniseries, so I have no doubt there’s potential for the Matt Reeves to create an entirely unique take on the story that can stand on its own.
The LA Times talks to Reeves and I’m convinced of his intentions to honor both Swedish sources. Most encouraging is his emphasis on grounding the horror in a new setting as stark as the frigid Scandinavian forests.
Overall, Reeves wants the look of the film to have a startling naturalism, to evoke a stylized reality, and so he chose to work with the young Australian cinematographer Greig Fraser, who previously worked on Jane Campion’s evocative period drama “Bright Star.” Although there are some 300 visual effects shots in the film, Reeves instructed visual effects supervisor Brad Parker that he doesn’t want people to notice.
“In the same sense I want the photography to have this kind of messy realism, to be beautiful but gritty,” said Reeves, “I want the effects to feel believable. I want people to think back later and say, ‘I don’t even know if that’s an effect.’ I don’t want anything that pulls you out.
Reeves penned the new adaptation himself, but kept in touch with Lindqvist to stay focused on “the film’s stillness, as well as the patient and exacting mood” that he hoped to create.
“I think because of ‘Cloverfield,’ people have an assumption, which is, ‘Oh, crazy handicam, he’s going to jazz it up,’ ” Reeves said. “And I think that’s probably what a lot of people were afraid of when they thought of the most cynical version. And that’s the last thing we tried to do. We tried to create the approaching, foreboding dread of movies like ‘The Shining,’ where you feel like something wicked is unraveling and it’s not going to end well. That’s what I responded to about the original, the juxtaposition of those tones, this very disturbing story but at the center of it there are these very tender emotions. That’s a very unusual mix, and that’s what drew me in and dug into me.”
Reeves started out as series producer and writer for dozens of episodes for Felicity, tracing the path of teenage angst in the adventures of a slightly less bloodthirsy heroine. So he’s as comfortable with elusive inner demons as he is with more grotesque monstrosities.
“One of the fun things about doing genre is you can kind of smuggle in real stuff, so it kind of charges the metaphor. It’s a giant monster coming down the street, but it’s really about anxiety. This is a vampire movie, but really it’s about the pain of adolescence. And that kind of thing is really exciting to me.”
When shooting his version of the scene in which the boy and girl first meet, in the courtyard of their apartment complex, Reeves captures much of what inspired such loyalty to the original ‚Äî the emerging desire and confusion of early romantic feelings underscored by the tension of a horror tale. If there is something more, it will come in no small part from the assured performances by Kody Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz.
[Says Reeves:] “It’s not going to feel like a movie with a crazy number of effects. It’s, hopefully, going to feel like an intimate coming-of-age story.”