In the Shadow of the Vampire: Exploring Let Me In Filming Locations in New Mexico

Join us as we explore the eerie Let Me In filming locations around Los Alamos, uncovering the 2010 remake’s main shooting spots.

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Adapting a beloved novel is one thing. But adapting a beloved novel that already has a critically acclaimed film adaptation? That takes guts. As it stands, the American version of Let The Right One In is on par with its Swedish counterpart, a beautiful, haunting approach to the loneliness of vampiric life. 

In 2010, Matt Reeves followed-up his found footage monster feature Cloverfield with a more intimate – yet no less devastating – take on the genre. Let Me In tells the tale of a young boy in small-town New Mexico who befriends a newcomer to his apartment block and soon discovers she might look 12 but she’s much, much older (hint: she’s a vamp). 

And while that premise reflects the novel and first adaptation quite faithfully, the result is entirely its own creation that’s both mesmeric and terrifying. 

Why New Mexico was Chosen For This Movie

Originally, Reeves planned to lens the movie in Littleton, Colorado but the production wound up filming in New Mexico. Shooting began in Albuquerque on November 3, 2008 with plans for the movie to “pay respect to the original Swedish version” while working “to forge a unique identity… placing it firmly in an American context.” 

But why New Mexico? Aside from the financial benefits, producer Simon Oakes compared the movie to a Spielberg classic in an interview with Collider:

“When it comes to the setting… do you remember the scene in E.T. when suddenly this quiet environment has been shattered, when the government guys come in their suits and suddenly this small little house has got this huge white tunnel they’re all coming in? 

It’s the juxtaposition of the strangeness of that and the very ordinariness of the home environment that the kids lived in. We wanted to create the same idea, that within this very ordinary Southwest situation, extraordinary things are happening. 

This girl, this vampire, comes into this world and affects a kid and his daily life and relationship with his peers, or his bullies. We tried to find what that match would be; rather than just setting it in some snowy environment somewhere, we’ll try and place it in that juxtaposition.”

That mix of snowy yet recognisable suburbia was found in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Producer Alex Brunner revealed that they searched for a cold and stark environment, which drew them to Los Alamos, a place he describes as “beautiful” yet has a “dark presence.”

“By setting it in this snowy locale there was this great contrast between the virgin snow and blood,” adds Reeves. “It’s a planned community that sort of grew up around the idea of the Manhattan Project. What a lot of people don’t know is that it has the highest IQ per capita. That was very intriguing to me.”

This echoes the neighborhood in which author John Ajvide Lindqvist based the original novel – his hometown of Blackebery which is also a planned community.

Where Was Let Me In Filmed?

Let Me In was filmed in and around Los Alamos, New Mexico and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Let Me In Filming Locations In the New Mexico Area

1100 Alvarado Drive Southeast, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108

1300 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544

San Ildefonso Road, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544

San Ildefonso Road, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544

Los Alamos Highway, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87506

Opening Sequence – State Route 502

Let Me In opening drive sequence.
Opening drive sequence from Let Me In
Apologies — this is as bright as I could make this opening scene!

Let Me In opens on two police cars shepherding an ambulance through a snowy canyon. We later learn that the ambulance is carrying Richard Jenkins’ character Thomas on his way to hospital following a car accident. It’s a striking opening that sets the scene for what’s to come— horrific things against the backdrop of a picturesque landscape.

You can reach the exact spot where this was filmed at by visiting a lookout on State Route 502 coming into Los Alamos. While the lookout doesn’t have a specific name there is only one on that road. In case you need help locating it, it’s where the 502 splits with the 4. 

Highway to Horror visiting the opening lookout from Let Me In
Glenna from Highway to Horror visiting the overlook, September 2023.

While winter in New Mexico often brings snow, the Special FX team at Dive, led by Mark Forker, also added snow digitally to enhance the wintry look of the landscape. 

Abby’s Alley Attack – Tunnel at San Ildefonso Rd/North Mesa Rd Roundabout

Let Me In tunnel from a distance
Highway to Horror, September 2023
Let Me In Alleyway Attack sequence
Let Me In (2011)
Let Me In tunnel and alleyway attack sequence
Highway to Horror, September 2023.
Let Me In Alleyway Attack
Let Me In (2011)

The turning point of Let Me In is the moment we learn the terror of Abby’s true nature. Sure, we already know she’s a bloodsucker, but it’s not until we see how she sustains her life that its brutality comes to light. 

Of the movie’s many standout moments this happens in a pedestrian tunnel beneath a highway that joins two parts of the Bayo Canyon. It’s here that Abby pretends to be a lost child and preys on the kindness of a stranger who she then viciously attacks. 

Let Me In filming locations, tunnel sequence
The opposite side of the tunnel.

This sequence warranted visual effects to transform Chloe Grace Moretz into the feral vamp. The team at Method used the actor’s performance as a basis and created a completely animated version of Abby based on the location shoot.

“For the attack scenes, we shot her actually on top of the actor, performing motions similar to those required but not as violent. The footage wasn’t used outright but gave us a basis for how her clothes, hair and Abby herself should move. We could see what the other actor’s footwork would look like, for Abby’s animation to coordinate with,” said Sean Faden, VFX Supervisor at Method Studios in an interview with Digital Media World. 

Let Me In inside the tunnel sequence
Highway to Horror, September 2023.
Let Me In Alley Attack shot
Let Me In (2011)

“One attack, inside a dark tunnel, was over 300 frames long, unwaveringly focussed on the two actors. Her ultimate animation took many weeks to hone and perfect, but those pieces of live footage on location served as excellent reference.”

The tunnel is by the traffic circle at North Mesa and San Ildelfonso Road. The tunnel goes directly underneath San Ildelfonso Road. 

Thomas’ Car Accident Embankment near San Ildefonso Road and the Bayo Canyon

Shot of the accident scene in Let Me In
Highway to Horror, September 2023
A screenshot from Let Me In showing the car accident.
Let Me In (2011)

The sequence begins with Thomas hidden in the backseat of a car during one of his attempts to kill another unsuspecting person to feed Abby. Things don’t quite workout for him, as the driver picks up a friend, then stops at a gas station. Thomas winds up stealing the car which then rolls down a hillside. 

This sequence consists of three different locations sewn together but the production filmed at practically the same location as the Alley Attack scene; an embankment on San Ildefonso Road and the sledding hill in Bayo Canyon.  

“The car crash sequence requires us to seamlessly hooking up three different locations; an actor to a stunt double, an actor to a dummy, and tumbling the car and adding interactive debris elements,” said Brad Parker, production visual effects supervisor. 

While the effects teams from Dive and Method Studios utilised over 150 digital visual effects shots for supernatural moments, for this sequence they also created most of the background for the hillside car tumble. 

“The bushes were a mix of CG with 2D bushes on cards, shot on location for us once the car had fallen, upside down, to the bottom of the ravine,” said Sean Faden, VFX Supervisor at Method Studios in an interview with Digital Media World. 

So much for my trying to locate the exact spot they filmed based on bushes! (Yes, we may do a lot of that here). 

Visiting the alley location and  the car accident location is easy because they are in the same spot. If you head for the Bayo Canyon Trailhead, take San Ildelfonso Road from town until you hit the roundabout. Take the North Mesa Road exit and go uphill about 100ft on the left where there is parking for six vehicles. For a more detailed look, visit the Visit Los Alamos leaflet on Bayo Canyon. 

High School – Los Alamos High School, 1300 Diamond Dr, Los Alamos, NM 87544

The high school from Let Me In

Highway to Horror, September 2023

A screenshot of the Let Me In school
Let Me In (2011)

Scenes at the school were filmed at Los Alamos High School. Although since the time of shooting in 2010 and our visit in 2023 the school has undergone a renovation and looks quite changed.

Owen’s Home – Moana Apartments, 1100 Alvarado Drive SE, Albuquerque, NM. 87108

Apartments in Let Me In
Let Me In (2011)

A large portion of the movie takes place at the apartment complex where Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) first meets Abby. This is situated at the Moana Apartments in Albuquerque.

We’ve yet to visit this particular spot ourselves, but if you do, please remember that it’s a residential property so please be respectful if visiting.

Travel Tips

By car, you can hit up all of the main spots in Los Alamos and Albuquerque within a day as they’re all located so close to each other.

Places to stay

El Rey Court, Santa Fe

This roadside hotel is perfect for a one-night stay if you’re looking for someplace to stay that isn’t your normal hotel chain. We visited in spring 2023, and loved the old-school motor court. Our favourite aspect was the dial a cocktail! You could order drinks from their front bar and have them delivered straight to your room. 

Places to eat

This list hails from Glenna, who as a native New Mexican has experienced all of these establishments and recommends them highly! 

  • Albuquerque: Il Vicino; El Pinto; Frontier; Nexus Brewery
  • Santa Fe: Vinaigrette; Plaza Cafe; Cowgirl; Radish and Rye; La Boca
  • Los Alamos: Blue Window; El Parasol; Bathtub Brewing; Boese Brothers

Other Nearby Film Locations

Oppenheimer (2023)

Christopher Nolan’s latest was lensed in the Los Alamos area as well. Some of the Oppenheimer filming locations include Fuller Lodge, Oppenheimer’s home, and the Civilian Women’s Dormitory. We visited Fuller Lodge and the Dormitory – the latter we were able to venture inside thanks to a contact who works for the local government. 

The National Park Service offers a self-guided walking tour of most of the nearby spots which is easy to follow.

Fright Night (2011)

The remake of 80s classic Fright Night filmed in the early 2000s in New Mexico. Even though the movie is set in Las Vegas, Nevada, production lensed in Rio Rancho which is northwest of Albuquerque.

Vampires (1998)

Vampires is John Carpenter’s Western horror actioner that stars James Woods as a hunter of the undead. It filmed across the state but mostly in Las Vegas (yep, there’s a Las Vegas in New Mexico) and Los Cerillos.

If you’ve checked out the Let Me In filming locations let us know how you got along, and share your photos in the comments below!

Librarian by day and scribbler by night, Gem Seddon is a Seattle-based freelance entertainment writer with bylines at Vulture, Digital Spy, TechRadar, Regal Cinemas, Total Film, and more. Gem especially loves writing about horror movies. When not visiting her native England, she enjoys traveling to spooky film locales. Alien and Scream are tied as her all-time favourite movie – please don't make her choose.

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