Drawing on Your Nightmares: Letting the Right One In
A few months ago I was in a meeting with my colleagues at Paradox Entertainment to talk about the direction of the Robert E. Howard properties that they own, including Solomon Kane, which I write, and Conan and Kull, on which I consult.
We also did Pigeons from Hell with them, a Joe Lansdale adaptation of the REH horror yarn. Fred Malmberg, the guy at Paradox with whom I’ve worked from the beginning, back in 2003, comes from a Swedish gaming company, which has grown into a production company in Los Angeles. They’re developing the Howard properties for film, and they’ve got their hands in a few other things. Even knowing that, I was shocked when Fred told me he was producing the American remake of Let The Right One In (review). It completely derailed our Howard meeting, because I couldn’t stop talking about the Swedish film. I decided I needed to exploit my connection with Fred for the betterment of my fellow horror geeks at Dread Central. This short interview does not answer all your questions, but hopefully it’s good for a little fresh information.
SCOTT: There was a bit of a shake up when it was announced that the title of the movie would change to Let Me In. Was this rumor totally unfounded, or was a new title being considered?
FRED: Let Me In is the English title of the novel that the film is based upon. The final title has not been decided, except, of course, we want to distinguish the remake from the original film.
SCOTT: So the novel translation was titled Let Me In before the film was released in the U.S.? And there is a chance that your film will have that other title?
SCOTT: The novel is a lot more involved than the film—a lot had to be left out. Will you bring anything from the novel that wasn't in the Swedish film? Is it an adaptation of the Swedish film, or the novel?
FRED: It is a remake of the Swedish film, with an eye on the underlying source material. There are some great back-story elements and mythology, which fans would really enjoy. So if those could be hinted at in the film, I think it would be great.
SCOTT: Why make an American version?
FRED: That was decided upon even before the Swedish film had premiered. The book is so great — it is a fresh take on vampire mythology and it deserves a big audience. No matter how successful a sub-titled film is in the U.S., the potential will always be minor compared to an English-language film.
SCOTT: It is a rare U.S. remake that pleases fans more than the original foreign edition. What can you bring to this film that will expand on the original?
FRED: In the U.S., Tomas Alfredson's film is considered an art-house picture. Mostly because it is a foreign language film, but also because of his directing style; he is a very Nordic director with lingering shots, camera work, music and so forth. I love his work, as does everyone I have encountered in this process. I don't think you should compare the two films, they are aiming at different audiences. Matt Reeves is a very, very talented director who comes from another angle, he has a great sense of where the young audience is today. I hope he will retell the tale so that it can capture a much wider audience yet remain faithful to the core concepts of Ajvide's book.
FRED: No they are not. I know Tomas Alfredson and doubt he is even interested in the project. He made his version of Ajvide's tale and it is already a classic.
SCOTT: How do you think Let The Right One In fits into current trends in horror in the U.S.?
FRED: The timing is perfect. Ajvide's book is a metaphor for being an outsider, being weird, the pains of growing up, and fantasies of revenge.
SCOTT: Will the relationship between the vampire and the live boy be played more romantic, a la Twilight—like every other U.S. vampire story since Buffy?
FRED: No, this is a tale of a very innocent boy, pre-pubescent, it is romantic but in a wholly different way since these kids are much younger than those you mention.
SCOTT: Do you see any similarity between the tone of Let The Right One In and the tone of Cloverfield? What makes Matt Reeves the right guy for the job?
FRED: Matt is a great artist and most directors approach each project from a different angle. I think Cloverfield was a very good film for what it set out to be. I feel confident that Matt will deliver a film that will be different enough from the Swedish, and yet careful with the source material.
Outside of the interview, Fred and I talked off the record about the project a little more, and according to current plans, the small ways in which they expand upon the story are true to the spirit of the Swedish film. I was concerned about how they might develop the characters into more traditional U.S. horror movie roles, and it doesn’t seem like that’s happening. I’m optimistic. I’m watching a screener copy of the film again as I write this, and Oskar is about to whack Conny in the face with the red stick. Oops, there he goes. Not gonna mind if Matt Reeves is a little nastier with that, but I sure hope he doesn’t rob Oskar of his one real moment of his own.
I’ll throw out one small Dark Horse plug to wrap it up — check out The Cleaners, a new miniseries currently underway written by Mark Wheaton, the writer of the recent Friday the 13th(review). I know feelings are mixed around here on the film, but this comic is unique and very interesting. It’s had me on the edge of my seat, and I’ve resisted the urge to pump editor Shawna Gore for info, glad to have a horror comic that I don’t edit that keeps me in suspense and waiting to see where the blood-soaked plot is heading.
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