Modish blankness tries to pass for clarity in Let Me In, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves' Americanized remake of the Swedish boutique hit Let the Right One In. Reeves faithfully adopts the International-style flatness of Tomas Alfredson's film, a mixture of "philosophical" long shots, brittle scoring, spartan cutting, and slowed-pulse performances. The setting is snow-swirled Los Alamos, New Mexico, 1983, squarely in Moral Majority country. Ignored at home and an eternal schoolyard victim, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) strikes up a friendship with his new neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz), waifish, home-school-creepy, and even more socially maladjusted than he is. On the common ground of isolation, they thaw to each other. Unknown to Owen, if not the viewer, is the fact that Abby's trauma has something to do with the ritual murders with vampire tracks popping up around town. The child performances are credible, likewise the feel of pubescent isolation, but Reeves' measured style can't disguise a pandering Young Adult sentimentality. The film is a slow build-up to irreparable action, to Owen and Abby's joining paths as a fatal couple. There's a human tragedy in here—but all that lingers is mawkish puppy love and cool revenge fantasy, with humanity as livestock for sensitive souls to feed on.
Smit-McPhee as the bullied boy in need of a protector.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Oct. 1. Rated R. 115 minutes.