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Let Me In offers romance, but satisfies horror fans lust for blood

The idea of a vampire love story probably conjures up images of glittering, teenage angst a la the “Twilight” series. But the vampire variety in “Let Me In” is assuredly less glitter and more gore.

Matt Reeves of “Cloverfield” fame directs this remake of the 2008 Swedish film, “Let the Right One In,” which was originally based on a book by the same name. Not exactly fresh material by any respect, the film is a smart and enjoyable tribute nonetheless.

The story is set in the 1980s and follows a young boy named Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who lives in a small New Mexico town. Owen begins to develop a relationship with his mysterious new neighbor Abby, played by Chlo Moretz, but soon finds that things are not exactly as they seem with his new friend. He discovers that Abby and her reclusive caretaker are responsible for a string of gruesome murders in their small town because Abby is a vampire with an insatiable need for human blood.

What follows is an unusually touching story of self-discovery and young love carefully interwoven with horror movie flair.

Both Smit-McPhee and Moretz deliver outstanding performances for such young actors. Owen and Abby are not exactly easy, formulaic characters to portray, so they both must be commended for their convincing execution. The contrast of emotional chemistry and physical tension between the characters is spot on and the audience is never left to doubt the reality of what is happening on screen.

The dialogue is choppy, with many a forced silence between delivery of lines. But it may serve as a general reflection of the bleak and unimpressive winter landscape that serves as the backdrop for “Let Me In.”

Fans of the horror genre should not be disappointed with the film, but may leave the theater asking for a bit more shock. There are certainly hair-raising moments in “Let Me In,” but nothing truly terrifying. Unfortunately, the film does not make it the full two hours without falling into some hokey horror pitfalls. One scene in particular involves a poorly rendered, computer-generated effect of a woman spontaneously bursting into flames that momentarily detracts from the overall integrity of the film.

But the lack of true, blood-curdling terror furthers the cause of creating a more intelligent movie beyond the “Jason” or “Freddy” horror staples.

“Let Me In” is truly greater than the sum of its horror and romantic parts. It leaves you with an unsettled feeling in your stomach about whether you should be happy or disturbed by what you have just witnessed. And while the film tries to appeal simultaneously to fans of vastly different genres, it still offers a satisfying experience for anyone not overly squeamish. “Let Me In” is certainly the best executed horror film of the year.