‘Let Me In’ Is ‘Darker’ Than ‘Twilight,’ Director Matt Reeves Says

'Cloverfield' filmmaker — one of our 10 to Watch in 2010 — is prepared for the vampire-film comparisons.

[movieperson id=”52349″]Matt Reeves[/movieperson] knows he has a target on his back. The director admits as much roughly two minutes into a conversation about his upcoming film, [movie id=”410383″]”Let Me In.”[/movie] That’s what happens when your movie: A) takes on the pop-cultural theme-du-jour of vampires, and B) remakes a beloved flick that pretty much everyone agrees is as perfect as genre filmmaking gets.

After helming the inventive disaster adventure [movie id=”362118″]”Cloverfield,”[/movie] Reeves built up the Hollywood cred to buy himself some breathing room for his tale of childhood alienation, improbable yet vital friendship and, yup, the bloodsucking undead. Based on a 2008 Swedish film, Reeves’ adaptation (due in October) shifts the story to the bleak winter landscape of New Mexico but maintains the original’s horror-genre elements. We’re so pumped about the film’s potential that we’ve tagged Reeves as one of our 10 to Watch in 2010 — the folks in the movie industry we expect big things from in the next 12 months.

During some downtime on set, Reeves gave MTV News a call to talk about reworking a cult classic, contending with other vampire franchises and what’s coming down the line this year and beyond for the director.

MTV: Is “Let Me In” a remake or a reimagining? What are you keeping from the original and what are you changing?

Matt Reeves: It’s very much an Americanization of the tale that John Ajvide Lindqvist tells. The film touched me. And I read the book, which he also wrote, and it moved me too. It reminded me so much of my own childhood in certain ways. It’s so much about that period of preadolescence, that feeling of being a child and of being bullied, the difficulties of growing up. It’s such a beautiful coming-of-age story, in addition to being such a terrific genre story. One of the things I really wanted to do was find my own way into the story while still being very, very reverent to the beautiful film and to the wonderful story that they created. And so the story in many ways follows the same trajectory. I really wanted to put you, even more so, into the point of view of the boy and understand his childhood as vividly as it comes across in the book.

MTV: How much have you paid attention to the folks who are nervous about a new version of the Swedish film?

Reeves: In a certain way, there has been a real bull’s-eye on the movie, because people had so much love for that [original] film. I share that love, and for me, what was important was to have reverence for the original while at the same time trying to find the way to make it our own. That has been what this process is about, to really want to mine the foundations of that story. It’s about the details and the things that make it an American story and putting it in an American context and the things that I relate to from my childhood and the things that the actors bring.

MTV: And in your young stars, [movieperson id=”453560″]Kodi Smit-McPhee[/movieperson] from [movie id=”367009″]”The Road”[/movie] and [movieperson id=”369028″]Chloe Moretz[/movieperson], who’s going to be in [movie id=”407165″]”Kick-Ass,”[/movie] you seem to have found two young actors who can bring a lot to the set.

Reeves: The idea that we have these two kids is kind of a dream. My God, those are very challenging roles! I thought, “Gosh, can we find a young actor that would do this?” and then Kodi came in, and I just knew we could make the movie. The amazing thing is that I saw “Romulus, My Father” and I thought he was terrific, but he made that film, obviously, when he was much younger, and I thought, “Well, he’s a terrific young actor, but I don’t know, would he be able to do this or that?” And I had heard he was extraordinary in “The Road.” [Director] John Hillcoat was lovely and incredibly helpful to me, though I actually never did get to see the footage before we cast him. I was fortunate enough to get to meet Kodi, and he read with me one day, and literally from that very moment, there was no question that there was nobody that could play this role except for him. He is just so authentic and real.

MTV: And Chloe, too, is getting all this buzz.

Reeves: Chloe is just remarkable. The thing that we always talk about is trying to find the way to not have her … she is a vampire in the story, so what does that mean? How do you play a vampire? The idea is to have her not play a vampire at all but have her play the reality of her life and the difficulty of her life, and that’s the way these two lonely souls connect. The two of them are just a joy to work with. She was one of the many people who came in, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s amazing.” All that “Kick-Ass” stuff happened after that, and so, in retrospect, I’m going, “How did it happen that we got these two kids that now everyone is now so incredibly excited about?” It truly is because their talent speaks so loudly that when they came in the room it was like, “Oh, these are the two kids.”

MTV: Any vampire film these days is, fairly or not, going to be compared to the “Twilight” juggernaut.

Reeves: I think that it has obviously really touched a nerve and tapped into a very, very deep vein. To me, the thing about genre stories that is the most interesting thing is what you do with the metaphor of the genre. You can do a grand, sweeping love story, like “Twilight,” and use that metaphor of the two people that are just being torn apart and the aching-ness of it, and that’s a great fantasy. I think that what people respond to in “Twilight” is the fantasy of it. It’s such a grand, romantic fantasy, and in a way, the reason why I think there is room for a film like ours is, though it’s a vampire film, it uses it in such a different way. Whereas “Twilight” is kind of a fantasy, this will be a darker, scarier kind of journey. Obviously, “True Blood” is also really big these days too, and that’s a different thing using the sexual side. I think it’s really about what sort of emphasis the story takes and how you use the metaphor. The amazing thing about genre films is the way to smuggle in different kinds of themes and things worthy of exploration. I think what so struck me about this story is that what it is exploring is so different and so real.

MTV: Where are you and J.J. Abrams at with the “Cloverfield” sequel? Is it actually going to happen?

Reeves: It continues to percolate. There are ideas that come up and they go away and come back and, to be honest, I can’t really tell you whether or not, or how exactly, it will happen, and, in fact, it may happen with me in a very differently capacity. I might not even direct it. It really just completely depends on how things come together. I know that there definitely is an intention to do something, and we really want to do something great, and it just comes down to how things develop. Obviously, J.J. is always busy with a million things, and he’s got a personal project that he is really crazy about, in addition to a new TV show, and also he just came off of that little movie called “Star Trek,” which was amazing. And, actually, [writer] Drew [Goddard], he just did a movie, which is supposed to be just fantastic, “Cabin in the Woods.” All of us would obviously want to find a way for him to work on the film. But everyone is doing stuff. We definitely want to do something, and I know J.J. has some ideas for some things he wants to do too in terms of it, so we’ll see how it develops. I truly can’t tell you anything beyond that, because it is literally constantly evolving, and it may come out in a form that is completely surprising and very, very different.

MTV: So what’s next for you then? Will it be “Invisible Woman”?

Reeves: I am very passionate to do “Invisible Woman” and I would love to find a way to do that next, right away. Also there are some other projects that I’m interested in doing too. In the long term, I am just hoping that I will be fortunate enough to keep making movies that I’m really excited about, and I do hope that “Invisible Woman” is next. We’ll see what the future brings.

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