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'Let Me In': An inviting vampire flick

Let Me In

Let Me In

Let Me In
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee,
Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas
Rated R

4 stars

Taken from a critic who usually wusses out at horror movies, “Let Me In” is one of the most stirring movies of the year.

Gruesome imagery abounds — a corpse hanging from a tree, as blood drains from a jugular vein; a face disintegrated by acid — but contrary to what these scenes would have you believe, “Let Me In” is for people who cherish narrative, not gore. Indeed, horror and sentiment have never dovetailed in a more lovely way.

A remake of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” “Let Me In” is a vampire movie that avoids all the trendy trappings of the genre.

A terrific Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Owen, a scrawny boy who spends the film in heartbreaking isolation. His single mother is distant, and the only human contact he has at school is with a bully.

In this hushed, snow-laden landscape, Owen meets Abby, a young girl who just moved in next door with a man who appears to be her father (Richard Jenkins). Abby, played by the frighteningly talented Chloe Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”), doesn’t wear shoes and doesn’t attend school. She’s pale and her stomach makes odd sounds.

She is, as you soon guess, one of them bloodsuckers. In Abby, though, Owen finds a friend. If this last phrase sounds saccharine, rest assured that the sweet moments are welcome interludes as the ghastly nuts and bolts of Abby’s forsaken life emerge.

“Let Me In” is a wonderful surprise from director Matt Reeves, whose last film, “Cloverfield,” gave audience members seizures. Thank god there are no shaky cameras here. To the contrary, the film is eerily still, making the violence all the more startling and earned. In “Let Me In,” Reeves achieves a perfect harmony of tenderness and brutality.

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