“As a young person horror films terrified me,” says Let Me In director Matt Reeve.
“To this day if you were to show me a picture of Linda Blair in her Regan MacNeil getup, and I wasn’t prepared, the hair would stand up on the back of my neck and my blood would run cold. I would have a visceral reaction, so it’s kind of ironic that that’s what I do now. I make genre films, and yet there is something about it that is a very exciting thing to do.”
Audiences and critics were certainly excited by his first film, Cloverfield, a movie one writer called “the closest a film has ever gotten to a roller-coaster ride.” It was a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am reinvention of the “big monster” movie that mixed Godzilla with the immediacy of reality TV. His new film, a remake of Let the Right One In, the Swedish art house hit about a vampire trapped in a 12-year-old body and her bullied neighbour, is less frenetic, but throws a new spin on the vampire tale.
“It is a vampire film in a different tradition,” says Reeves. “That has everything to do with [novelist] John Lindqvist’s story. It is an incredible story in that he takes the vampire genre and uses it as a way to describe the pain of adolescence. It is a strange thing to say, but I found in reading it, and in the Swedish version and in what we tried to do, I actually think that it is a very realistic sort of tale even though it is a vampire tale. This film has a bit of naturalism to it.”
Let Me In, Cloverfield and the films that frightened him as a child, he says, are effective because they are “about something other than what the surface part is. The metaphor they are using is a way to explore a lot of real and frightening things and to explore our own fears and that’s why you can make a movie about a giant monster trashing New York and it’s really not about that at all. That is what makes it challenging and interesting as a filmmaker.”