The ''Let Me In'' director talks about turning the Swedish vampire film into a Chloe Grace Moretz-starring Hollywood horror movie

By Josh Rottenberg
October 01, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

When the news hit in late 2008 that Matt Reeves was developing an American version of Let the Right One In, fans of the Swedish vampire movie bared their fangs on Internet comment boards. ”They were understandably cynical,” says Reeves. ”They’ve seen so many terrible remakes.” Tomas Alfredson’s dark fable about a bullied middle-schooler and a young girl who turns out to be a centuries-old vampire made only $2 million when it was released in American theaters in 2008, but nearly everyone who saw it loved it — including Reeves. In fact, he initially resisted directing the new film: ”I told them, ‘I don’t think you should remake this movie because it’s awesome.”’

Ultimately Reeves decided he could make his own version that, while shifting the action to Reagan-era New Mexico, would remain true to the eerie coming-of-age story at the heart of both Alfredson’s film and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s original novel. In that spirit, he pushed back against pressure to put older actors in the leads, à la Twilight, instead casting Chloë Grace Moretz, 13, the breakout star of Kick-Ass, opposite Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, 14, of The Road. Moretz still hasn’t seen the original film. ”Matt didn’t want me to watch it, so I wouldn’t have a preconceived notion of the character,” she says. ”And my mom wouldn’t let me see it.”

Alfredson has publicly expressed displeasure about Let Me In, saying, ”Remakes should be made of films that aren’t very good.” Reeves doesn’t begrudge Alfredson’s feelings (”I totally get it,” he says) and is hopeful that fans of Let the Right One In will let his take in as well: ”All along, I wanted to make a version that wouldn’t replace the Swedish film but would sit beside it. I’m also a fan.”