Movie Review: Let Me In

Remakes? I'm against 'em.

But they've become endemic, and the turnaround time seems to grow shorter. It's not just films from the 40s and 50s -- Hollywood rightly guesses that the national case of ADD means it has carte blanche to remake films from the 70s, 80s and 90s. (Short Circuit? Really?) It's just another symptom of the terminal loss of imagination that runs rampant.

And American remakes of foreign films? Again, that would be a 'no' vote. First of all, they devalue foreign cinema. Secondly, the Hollywood versions invariably lack the mysterious tang of cultural uniqueness that flavors the originals.

Having said all that, I can heartily recommend Let Me In, the moody, touching American remake of the Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In, from 2008.

Director Matt Reeves has not so much copied the film as reimagined it in an American milieu -- though it is often very close to the original. He's found a snowy equivalent to Sweden without resorting to the American Midwest, which is the U.S. equivalent of Scandinavia.

Instead, he's set it in Los Alamos, N.M., in 1983, in a mountain town with a snowy clime. The snow and the weather are characters in this film and, for those versed in history, Los Alamos' past -- as the home of the birth of the atomic bomb -- lends it a weird little vibe as well.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) plays Owen, a pre-teen living with his divorced mother in a crackerbox apartment complex. Mom's a depressive whose face we never see (but who is played by Cara Buono from Mad Men) -- and Owen is the target of bullies at school, though he can't really tell about it. Forget the horror tropes -- what's scarier than a gang of unchecked bullies threatening super-wedgies?

Owen spends his evenings alone outdoors in the snow, on the apartment complex's monkey bars, waving a small pocket knife while envisioning Taxi Driver-style confrontations with his tormentors. But his world changes when new tenants move into the apartment next door.