Matt Reeves' remake of Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson's atmospheric vampire thriller — both of which are based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s horror novel Let the Right One In — might not be as restrained or as poetic as its predecessor. Like the earlier film, though, Let Me In's take on the genre generates unexpected empathy for its central duo, a pair of 12-year-olds who form a peculiar bond.
A loner with a Rubik’s Cube and an odd penchant for grown-up Pop songs, Owen (The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee) spends his evenings wandering around his Arizona apartment complex’s snow-covered outdoor play area where he dreams of enacting revenge on the school bully.
Comparisons to Alfredson's excellent earlier version are impossible to suppress, but Reeves — whose previous film was the crafty and underrated Cloverfield — makes Let Me In his own, tweaking the setting and various narrative elements with surprising effectiveness. Best of all is an immersive mid-film car crash that not only exceeds its predecessor but is also one of the more visceral cinematic sequences in recent memory.
While Smit-McPhee and most of the supporting cast (including Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas) are stellar, Moretz doesn't possess the emotional depth (or haunted eyes) that her Swedish doppelganger (the raven-haired Lina Leandersson) brought to a role that requires a certain organic pathos to fully penetrate.
Still, Let Me In makes nearly every other vampire-based project of recent vintage look toothless by comparison. Grade: B
Opens Oct. 1. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.