October 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Let Me In' -- GRADE: B+

Review: Coming-of-age vampire movie has real bite

Tom Long reviews 'Let Me In'
Tom Long reviews 'Let Me In': American remake of European vampire movie is suprisingly good

Just when you thought bloodsuckers had been sucked dry of any potential, along comes "Let Me In."

True, the film is a meticulous and tone-perfect remake of the Danish vampire hit "Let the Right One In," so it's not exactly new. But it should open the story up to a much wider audience.

What works so well here is the juxtaposition of youthful innocence and downright puppy love with monstrosity and murder. Mean kids are scary. Kids who drink blood are scarier.

The film takes place in wintry New Mexico, where bullied 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee from "The Road") is trying to weather his parents' divorce. Into his apartment complex moves an odd young girl named Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her apparent father (Richard Jenkins).

Abby and Owen meet at night at the apartment's playground and begin a wary friendship. Meanwhile Abby's roommate is going out killing people and draining them of blood. Hint-hint.

Yes, it turns out Abby, who walks around barefoot in the snow, is sun-challenged. This throws Owen a bit, but then friends are friends, right?

Director Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield") adapted the original film with a careful eye to retaining its quiet strength and odd tension (OK, he changes one thing).

Even though the visuals have been strengthened, this still feels very much like a European horror film.

Instead of immortality, this movie is about power -- the power that Owen doesn't know he has, the limits of Abby's power, the power of their bond, the power of a child's perspective.

"Let Me In" shows the words "smart" and "vampire movie" can still co-exist; and that bloodsuckers can still have bite.

Tlong@detnews.com">Tlong@detnews.com (313) 222-8879

An alienated 12-year-old boy befriends a mysterious newcomer in his New Mexico town, and discovers an unconventional path to adulthood. / Overture Films