SXSW: Matt Reeves Explains His Let The Right One In Remake
Remaking a beloved movie is never easy, and it gets even harder when your fans are as passionate as the ones who’ve seen the amazing, cult-hit Swedish movie Let the Right One In. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves has drawn the short straw and he’s currently at work on an Americanized remake of the film, which they’re calling Let Me In. While on the horror panel at SXSW he brought everything to a halt in order to step up and explain his intentions for all those skeptical Let the Right One In fans. He’s not going to ruin it, he promises.
In fact Reeves says he’s as in love with the movie and the story as you are. He explained that he read and fell in love with the book before seeing the movie, and wrote the author Ajvide Lindqvist to tell him, “’listen I just really want to say that I’m really drawn to this not because it’s a great genre story’, which I do believe it is, and I think that what Tomas did with the movie was just brilliant, and I said that it was really about my personal connection to it. And he wrote me back and he was very kind and he said, ‘I have to tell you I’m a big fan of Cloverfield and it’s because you’ve taken an old story tried and true and done it in a fresh way’. And he said, ‘that’s what I’ve tried to do with this, but I’m much more excited to know it affected you personally because it’s my autobiography.’”
Reeves insists his desire to remake the film is all about his personal connection to the book. He says, “I related to the bullying and being a childhood of divorce and growing up in the 80s. And I think it comes down to, in terms of doing the remake, what your intentions are and whether or not you’re interested in running roughshod over something or whether you’re trying to bring something of yourself to it, and being committed to and respecting where it comes from. And I have such tremendous respect for that story and at the same time it so resonates with me personally.”
So how do you take something that’s already so perfect and make it American? Don’t worry, he won’t do it with a bunch of explosions and one-liners. Reeves explained his approach to the remake in depth. It seems to revolve in large part around Reagan and suburbia. He says, “At the beginning of the book there’s this great thing where he says, he talks about Blackberg… he describes this town and it’s basically one of these sort of essentially what is in America a tract house community…. Everything’s sort of built so that the place was built all at once not over time so you could have organic history building. He talks about how they build this city and you could almost imagine that one day all of the residents sort of came on busses and over bridges and arrived and they all came in the same day. He says but of course that isn’t what happened, but this was a place without history. And he said one of the things about not having history was that there wasn’t a single church in this place, and that’s probably why they were so unprepared for what was about to follow… what I was interested in is if we’re going to take the film and put it in an American context, then the sort of tract housing, the planned community thing it makes total sense, but America in the 80s and America now is very different. It is sort of a godless suburbia and if I were a 12-year-old kid and I were harboring the thoughts that Oscar has because the brutality of his life, and I sort of imagined killing my enemies and vicious thoughts, I think that in American context, oh there was the big, Reagan was talking about the “evil empire” at that time, that the evil was outside of us. And I became very drawn to the idea that evil is within us and that whole thing. It’s details like that. I think people, they think, oh Americanization means oh you’re going to come in and add lots of gratuitous stuff, and really in my case it was much more about context and how to honor the original story and find a way that it applies to the way we live or I live. “
I’m a fan of the original Swedish film myself, but Reeves approach to it does sound interesting. Let’s hope he pulls it off.
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