LET ME IN “Um... not to be rude, but... I think you might have something on your face?”

PARDON THE WET BLANKET, but the book was better, as was the Swedish film. Of course, when it comes to Let Me In, the Americanized remake of the cult Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In, there was always the worrisome fanboy fear that domestic cinema would destroy yet another foreign movie, forcing it to join the ranks of Vanilla Sky, Wings of Desire, and Death at a Funeral (the black one). No longer named after a Morrissey song, but instead after an R.E.M. one, Let Me In stays mostly loyal to the original John Ajvide Lindqvist script, taking liberties only when it comes to violence (there's more of it) and the underlying gender issues that the original addressed so well.

Owen (The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an oft-bullied 12-year-old with a sweet tooth for Now and Laters and a pair of absentee parents—mommy loves chardonnay and Jesus, in that order, while dad is a disinterested voice on the phone. Owen's lone reprieve comes during the late nights on the snow-covered playground where his bottled-up emotions finally spill over. He's soon joined in the darkness by his mysterious new neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz, AKA Hit-Girl from Kick Ass), who's unlike other pre-teen girls, probably because she drinks the blood of the living in order to survive.

All good underage bloodsuckers need a vaguely pedophilic caretaker, a role that underappreciated character actor Richard Jenkins plays here with restrained skill. Sometimes little more than a pair of eyes peering out of a garbage-bag mask, Jenkins captures the unrelenting creepiness of a character somehow more evil and dead than his adopted vampire child. (Trust me, you'll never listen to Blue Öyster Cult's "Burnin' For You" again without thinking of Jenkins—and not in a good way.)

Before this film, director Matt Reeves' experience was mostly limited to a pair of productions about soulless monsters attacking the city of New York (Cloverfield and the WB's Felicity); with Let Me In, he glances past the subtleties of the original, often leaning too heavily on the crutch of CGI. The end result is still worth watching—if even just for Jenkins with a bag on his head—but it'll never be like the original.