Released the same weekend as Twilight, Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 Swedish import Let the Right One In—based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel—never became a cash cow, but it did one better: It earned the adoration of horror fanboys and mainstream critics, and both groups proclaimed it among the greatest vampire movies ever made. Before anyone could say “sacrilegious,” Hollywood pumped out this close remake, set in 1983 New Mexico, with Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) directing, but employing a similarly chilly, patient mood. Truthfully, if Let Me In were an original, it would be fairly terrific. But it lives in the shadow of its predecessor, and the inevitable comparisons are not favorable.
Perhaps without even blinking, Reeves has dumbed the story down, adding explanations and motivations so that Americans will not be confused. And he has gored it up, with extra blood and cheap-looking CGI, so that Americans will not be bored. (Sadly, this effectively neuters the climactic swimming-pool sequence.) But Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) and Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) are worthy matches for their Swedish counterparts, playing the weird, lonely boy tormented by bullies and the peculiar, blood-lusting girl who has been “12 for a long time.” It’s a movie driven by commerce, but it does find some moments of inspiration.