December 17, 2010 -- This atmospheric and effective horror film is an almost exact remake of the acclaimed 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In” (Låt den rätte komma in). Unlike most remakes, this is just as good as the original, maybe even better. The sexual content of the original is mostly erased in the American version, along with the nudity (which might be construed in this country as child pornography), but otherwise it is an almost exact copy. This is very well constructed and well-acted by a strong cast of actors.
The dreary winter setting from the original is maintained, transplanted to Los Alamos, N.M. A young boy, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee of “The Road”) bullied by older classmates in school, meets a mysterious stranger, a young girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz of “Kick-Ass”) who is not affected by cold and who says she is a lot stronger than she looks. At first, she says she cannot be friends with Owen, but eventually, the two are drawn together. She recommends that Owen hit back, hard, when the bullies attack him. He takes that advice to heart, and puts one of them in the hospital.
Owen begins to suspect that his new friend is a vampire when people start disappearing in Los Alamos and bodies are found drained of blood. He is troubled by this, but his friendship with Abby is strong enough that he doesn't turn her in. When Owen witnesses Abby kill a police officer, he makes his final decision. He sides with the vampire who has befriended him and against the humans who have treated him as an outcast.
Eventually, the bully and his two friends who have tormented Owen seek vengeance against him. The police are closing in on Abby and she has to move on. Things come to a head at the school swimming pool, where the bullies stage an attack on Owen. Abby and Owen make their choices about their future. This is a very odd romance, indeed, but it works because Owen and Abby have a surprising amount in common. This is a love between two similar social outcasts. It is an effective tale of alienation, isolation, loneliness and friendship. The acting is excellent, including a nice turn by Richard Jenkins of “Eat Pray Love” as Abby's father. Also good are Cara Buono, who plays Owen's mother and Elias Koteas of “Shutter Island,” who plays a policeman investigating the mysterious killings in Los Alamos. The muted colors and dark lighting which show up in the cinematography by Greig Fraser (“Bright Star”) compliment the tone of the movie. This film rates a B+.
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