It ain't easy to scare a reader in 22 pages or less, but comics publisher Dark Horse is partnering with Hammer Films to give it a go. Up first: a comic-book adaptation of Let The Right One In.
Horror, like comedy, is a visceral genre — something either makes you scared or makes you laugh, or it doesn't. And to achieve that kind of gut reaction, there are certain tools that storytellers can use. Filmmakers rely on sound and montage: the stab of music when the killer appears, the quick-surprise cut or the tension-building long take. Novelists have the luxury of time to build the mood, lure you in, before going for the jugular — they make the reader complicit in the scare.
Comics, on the other hand, have neither the time to build that suspense nor the audio-visual trickery to "boo" you into submission. Which is why the great horror comics never really scare you — they unsettle you. They insinuate, penetrate, and unnerve you. There was a bit in an old Warren Ellis book, Scars, where a detective comes upon a crime scene with burned infant skeletons in an oil drum — the reason why they're there still sickens me to this day. Ellis didn't jump out at the reader, he worked his way in.
Which is why Dark Horse Comics' decision to launch their partnership with Hammer Films with an adaptation of Let the Right One In is a smart one. One of the best horror films of the past 10 years, Let the Right One In is just the kind of unsettling that can translate to the page. The only wrinkle is that Dark Horse's comic (which is being written by Marc Andreyko and illustrated by Patric Reynolds) is actually based on Hammer's remake of Let the Right One In, Let Me In, starring Kick-Ass' Hit Girl, Chloe Moretz and directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves.
Hopefully, the source-material genetic drift doesn't hit this one too hard: anyone who remembers cassette tapes knows what a copy of a copy sounds like. We'll find out come September, when the first issue hits in advance of Let Me In's October release date.