The haunting thriller Let Me In is out this week on DVD/Blu-ray with a generous amount of bonus features, including deleted scenes, audio commentary with writer/director Matt Reeves, the much-talked-about visual effects piece “Car Crash Sequence Step-By-Step,” “From the Inside: A Look at the Making of Let Me In,” “The Art of Special Effects,” the greenband and redband trailers, a trailer gallery, and a poster and still gallery. It also includes an original comic book with an exclusive cover designed by award-winning comic book artist Sean Phillips.
Let Me In tells the coming of age story of a bullied young boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who befriends his mysterious young neighbor Abby (Chloe Moretz), only to find out that she is a vampire that needs blood to live and that the man who seems to be her father (Richard Jenkins) goes out to drain local residents to feed her. In this exclusive phone interview with Collider, writer/director Matt Reeves talked about his process for choosing the special features and extras included on the DVD/Blu-ray, how much he loved the performances of his two lead actors, Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and his hope that the film will find a life that wasn’t reflected in the box office numbers when it was in theaters. He also talked about what he would like to do next. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: What went into the process of choosing the special features and extras for this DVD/Blu-ray?
MATT REEVES: Well, I knew that I wanted to include some deleted scenes. There’s a scene where you see how Abby was transformed. It was a scene that, in editing the movie, I wasn’t able to actually make it work in the flow because it was the wrong tone, based on the scene prior to it. And, I was really disappointed because I thought that so many elements of the scene were good. I thought that Chloe and Kodi were so good.
I remember when we were shooting her being attacked and Chloe’s mother literally had to leave the set because she was so disturbed by Chloe’s performance, and everyone was just in awe of her that night. Her mother said to me, “I have never had to do that, where I literally had to walk out of the set, but it was very disturbing.” And, I thought Kodi was just fantastic as well. He was just feeling her feelings. I loved the work that I did with Greig Fraser, who I think is a fantastic cinematographer. I just liked the way that it turned out.
So, all these elements were great, but yet it was a scene that didn’t work in the final film. But, it was a scene I was proud of, so I wanted to put it on the DVD. We actually had released it online previously, just before the release of the movie. I really felt like that was a scene that I wanted people to see because I loved Chloe and Kodi in that scene so much. So, that’s on there, and there are a couple other little scenes that we cut out.
Why did you decide to do an entire segment on the car crash scene?
REEVES: I’d been asked, during all of the press for the movie, from fans of the scene, about how we did the car crash, so I wanted to do an in-depth feature on that. It’s interesting because, initially, the feature they put together had it just included in another section and it didn’t have any commentary or anything. And I was like, “You know, I really think we need to do more.” I knew that people who really responded to that scene want as much information about it as possible. They said, “Well, you’re going to be traveling in Europe to promote the movie,” ‘cause the movie was in all these festivals and I was following it around. And I said, “Well, can’t we find some way to do it?” So, we actually had them do a new feature.
When you’re listening to the different features, you’ll notice that on the car crash sequence, it sounds like I’m on the telephone. They recorded me on the telephone, at about three in the morning. I was in Sweden and I had, just the night before, met (author) John Lindqvist and stayed with him and his family. My wife and I had this wonderful experience with him, and the only way I could do the commentary was from Sweden, on the phone, at three in the morning. So, if I sound a little out of it and it sounds like I’m on the phone, that’s why, but I really wanted that feature to be on the DVD.
When you go back and do audio commentary, or you put the special features together and go through the deleted scenes, does it make it less heartbreaking, as a filmmaker, that you had to lose those scenes while you were editing the movie?
REEVES: Absolutely! It’s interesting ‘cause I’ve seen a lot of stuff online where there were people hoping that maybe we’d even put out a version of the movie that had all the scenes in it. But, because the editing room was closed down, I didn’t have access to do that. And, frankly, the reason I took them out was ‘cause I didn’t think that they worked in the flow of the film. It wasn’t like somebody said, “Oh, you have to take out the ‘Be Me A Little’ scene.” There’s actually a scene with Owen’s gym teacher, Mr. Zoric, and I loved the performance of Ritchie Coster in the scene, but it just didn’t work necessarily in the flow of the movie. It wasn’t part of the focus and started to break the narrative tension.
So, I took those scenes out, but they are scenes that I think people did really tremendous work in, so there’s something fun about being able to put them on the DVD. That way, you know that work was not lost. So yeah, it makes it much easier to know that people could actually look at them. I remember watching the Blu-ray, and also when they first released it on DVD in the collection of all three movies of The Godfather, and seeing all of those scenes that they cut out, and there wasn’t a single one of them that I wished they had kept it, but they were the most exciting thing to watch anyway. There’s something about seeing a movie that you like, and being able to see the scenes that didn’t make it, just as a window into the process of how choices are made and how a movie is made. To me, the idea of getting to have the scenes on the DVD is very exciting.
Are you hoping that this film will find a life on DVD that it didn’t have in box office numbers in the theater?
REEVES: Yeah, absolutely! To me, that’s the exciting thing about DVD, Blu-ray and the streaming downloads. The movie was missed by most people, during its release. We didn’t get big box office. The good news for the film was that it was very well received and we got a lot of great critical response, and that made me feel really good. In fact, the most exciting thing was that John Lindqvist loved the movie when he saw it. I was really worried about what his response would be, and he was so kind about it and invited me and my wife to come stay with his family in Sweden.
All of that was incredibly memorable. But, there is still a part of me that says, “Oh, there are so many people that didn’t see it.” The exciting thing about DVD and Blu-ray is that an audience that may have missed it, for whatever reason – or maybe even an audience that doesn’t necessarily go to the movies anymore, but watches interesting things on DVD and Blu-ray – have a chance to see the movie that, hopefully, they’ve read about online somewhere or in the newspaper, but didn’t get a chance to actually go out to see. So, I certainly am hoping that this expands the audience for the film.
How did you decide to include a comic book with the DVD/Blu-ray?
REEVES: I wasn’t actually involved in the making of the comic book. That was a Hammer and Dark Horse idea. I think Dark Horse has such a great history, and I really have respect for them. I was excited just to see what they did. The only thing that I did was give them information about the movie, as we were making it, so they could use that to create the comic book. The comic book is a creation that has been taken from what we were making, as we were making it. I showed them images, so they knew what Chloe and Richard looked like during the shooting of the movie. That way, they could create their own thing. It’s something that I was not very much a part of the creation of, but I thought it was cool that they were doing it.
Did you ever really see this film as a vampire story, or did you see it more as a coming of age story in a horror setting?
REEVES: What really got me was that John Lindqvist was using the vampire story for the horror of adolescence, and that’s really how I saw the story. It was, first and foremost, a coming of age story. I didn’t think, “Okay, well, here’s this vampire story, and there’s also coming of age in it.” I thought, “This is a coming of age story that uses vampirism as a metaphor for al of that, and to explore our darker impulses, and to see what it’s like for this boy to be bullied mercilessly and to feel apart from the rest of the world and isolated and in pain.” That was one of the things that I thought was so vivid in Lindqvist’s story, and one of the things that was the driving force for me, in terms of how to make it.
With the adult material in this film and the level of difficulty for the performances of the young actors, was it important for you to work with your two young leads in a way that gave them the freedom to follow their own instincts as well?
REEVES: Absolutely! I was really fortunate that, before I shot the movie, Steven Spielberg had seen Cloverfield and had wanted to meet me. He was with J.J. [Abrams]. They were working on Star Trek, and Steven was visiting the set one day, and J.J. said, “Come by, because Steven really liked Cloverfield and wants to meet you.” So, I met him and was very excited to have met him and, as I was thinking about this movie, I was thinking about how, because it took place in the ‘80s and I was trying to make it in the ‘80s of my childhood, I remembered E.T. and thought about how the movie was very analogous. It was a darker E.T., in a way. And I thought, “Wow, he has worked with so many different young performances and gotten such amazing performances from people like Henry Thomas and Christian Bale.” So, I asked J.J., “Do you think he would talk to me about directing children?,” because I hadn’t done it extensively before. I had done it a little bit, here and there, but never where they were carrying the weight of the film. And, he was very generous and said, “Yeah, come to my office.”
I did, and he gave me great advice, and specifically your question is part of the advice he gave me. He said, “You’re trying to remember what it was like to be 12, and that’s part of what the movie is about, but don’t forget they are 12, and you should let them bring you nuggets of gold. Don’t forget to question them and follow them, to some degree, as well and see what they come up with because that’s going to be the kids’ eye perspective, and that’s what you’re looking for.” So, that was a very, very key piece of advice. He also told me that one of the interesting tools he uses is to have the actors keep a diary in character. They can write anything they want, and the only requirement is that they have to share it with him. And so, I did that with Chloe and Kodi, and that was very, very useful ‘cause it was a way for us to start to talk about the lives of these characters. I gave them journals, which they used. It was interesting because Kodi had already done a similar thing, in the work that he had done with his father, so he was very open to it and excited to do it, and Chloe was excited to do it. It was all a process of trying to, not only guide them, but in places, trying to let them guide me toward their perspective. That was important.
Now that you’ve finished the work on Let Me In, do you have any idea what you’re going to be focusing on next? Will it be another Cloverfield film, or will it be something completely new?
REEVES: Well, I think Cloverfield will happen later. We still haven’t quite happened upon what it should be and, until we do, we don’t want to make it. We talk about it a lot, but J.J. has obviously been very busy with Super 8, and I had been busy with this, and Drew Goddard had just directed his first film, Cabin in the Woods, and he’s working on a movie for Spielberg now, that he’s writing. We’ve been very busy and haven’t had time to focus on it, and until we come up with exactly the right thing, it won’t be Cloverfield.
I was so worried about how this movie would be received and whether or not people would give us a chance, but at the end of the day, despite the fact that it didn’t get big box office, the movie was very, very warmly received and I’ve been getting a lot of interesting offers. I’m reading a lot of scripts and going on meetings and reading books and considering different projects that are coming my way, which a very exciting time for me. I’m looking for that next thing and, hopefully, we’ll figure out exactly which one I want to do next. In tandem with that, there’s a project that I’ve been trying to make since before Cloverfield, called The Invisible Woman, that’s a smaller film. I’d love to find out what this next thing is going to be, and then also attach The Invisible Woman, schedule wise, right to it and make it a one-two punch, hopefully.