Comic-Con 2010 premiered some of the first footage ever seen (though it looked much like the original footage) for the adaptation of the Swedish novel previously made into an acclaimed Swedish film, Let the Right One In. The American version by the name of Let Me In is directed by Matt Reeves and stars Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smitt-Mcphee, and Richard Jenkins, all of whom were in attendance at Comic-Con along with Simon Oakes, one of the producer’s of the movie and the head of Hammer Films.
Oakes has had to answer the same question many times, “why remake a movie that was so loved already?” He seemed to have a firm grasp on the answer, so lets begin with that and then find out the details on why this film could be more of a Hollywood success than its predecessor, despite its similarities and differences…
Can you talk about the decision to make an American version of this film?
Simon Oakes: Look, so, you know I’ve been on the record about this, we saw the film very early and we were knocked out by it. I read the book and it was phenomenal and we made a very early decision with Hammer that we were going to make what we call “smart horror.” You know, enlighten, we are going to try – re-ennoble the genre. But it really wasn’t what Hammer should be about when we are rebooting it. Yes, so we really committed already to doing this film.
We didn’t look around for directors. I mean Matt was right on board immediately and we knew he was going to bring some element that was over and beyond – different, if you liked the original, in terms of personal experiences. I think John Aivide wrote a book where he wanted to tell a love story of sorts within the context of the sort of Gothic story, and then Matt laid on top of it, his own personal experiences.
You know, I had that bittersweet feeling when the film began to get bigger and bigger and bigger, that my offices in Haymark and in London, and the cinema is right there with a massive poster of Let Me In, and I’m going, “No!” Truthfully, I was bittersweet because I was thinking, “My God! This is terrible.” But this is wonderful, because this is exactly why we bought it, because it is such a great movie. And if we weren’t sure that we could bring something different to it, then we wouldn’t have done it.
And I think also, that the reality is this, as I often say in Pittsburgh, Idaho, Liverpool/ Manchester, certain parts of Germany, and the outback of Australia, they haven’t seen the original but they are going to see this for obvious reasons; because we have put a lot of money behind it, we’re marketing it properly, a big release in the UK, and the U.S. as well, and around the world. So the story is getting to more people. So I’m happy with that and John’s happy as well, that was very important to me that the original is happy with what we are doing. If that makes sense.
You say that you wanted to bring something different to it, what specifically did you want to do?
SO: I think people who naturally love them understand and connect with the language of film will find the original something that’s accessible, but there are other people who don’t for whatever reason – they don’t like the genre, they wouldn’t go see that sort of film for whatever reason, they might think, “Oh! It’s a vampire film. I’m not going to see that film. Oh! It’s a horror film. I’m not going to see that film.” I think Matt’s version is a little more accessible. I think the relationship is drawn out a little more. I think there is more tactile nature in their relationship where they hug each other. Her relationship with Richard’s character is more drawn out. It’s more rounded. So I think that’s one of the things we’ve done.
I think we made the story, in a sense, more linear. I think there is a lot of, in the original, which I absolutely adore – it’s slightly different in tone. Slightly different tonally. So I think he’s bringing his unique vision to it and it his “version.” I don’t call it, you know, his “remake” or “re-imagining.” I call it his “version” of it. Almost as if another director can do another version of it, you know, and come up with something else. So, I think that’s how I feel about it anyway. You should ask him [laughs]. You will!
Are there any novels by this author that are along the lines of this movie that you might want to adapt?
SO: Yeah, you probably know there is a wonderful book called “The Handling of the Undead” which I absolutely adore and there are plans afoot, but you know we have to see. We have to see. He is an extraordinary man. I am actually going to go to Sweden in early September and take the film to show John, which will be really fun.
Do you feel that novels make the best source material for films?
SO: Well, you know, sometimes. The old adage is that bad material often makes a good film and vice versa. Okay? I think we’ve been lucky in the sense that with Susan’s book, “The Woman in Black,” it was a pastiche in a way – she might not like me saying that – of M.R. James and also Wilkie Collins. And so, it’s suggested. The great thing for filmmakers and screenplay writers is about suggestion. Then they’ve got the artistic freedom to be able to sort of, if you like, build what it would really look like. James got that in “The Woman in Black.” You know, what would it be like? What were the children like? What’s going on in the causeway? Stuff like that. Brilliant imagination. I think the same with this. It is a very rich, textured book. I don’t know if you’ve read the original, but there is so much going on. You know? I mean, there is actually another movie in the book. So yeah, in this case, we’ve been very lucky the source material has been very strong.
How do you prepare for doing a movie like this with such young actors on set?
SO: That’s an incredibly good question. Look I think what you do is play it straight. You just play it as it is off the page. I think that you let people interpret what they want to interpret from it. I think you have to be careful. I think these two children, young actors I’d like to call them, are incredibly insightful. They know something’s going on, but aren’t quite sure what it is. I think you worry about that. It’s not remotely prurient in any way, and there nothing suggested that is wrong. It’s just there is sort of a – there is a feeling to it of there is a danger in this film. There is something lurking under the surface and you just leave that. Let people make their own mind up about that.
So what do you think? Are you excited for the remake? Do you think Oakes’ reasons for remaking the film are just?
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