In the century since Bram Stoker wrote "Dracula," imitators have coughed up Victorian vampires and disco vampires and soulful small-town vampires. But until the 2008 Swedish hit "Let the Right One In," there hadn't been a prepubescent hermaphrodite vampire.
Now there are two of them. "Let Me In," an English-language remake, artfully repackages much of the chilly menace of the original and adds a hot commodity: Chloe Moretz, 13, an actress poised to take a big bite out of Hollywood.
Moretz was the wise little sister in "(500) Days of Summer" and the pigtailed vigilante in "Kick-Ass." In "Let Me In," she proves she could brood like Bella yet reduce Robert Pattinson to roadkill.
Moretz plays Abby, a mysterious barefoot girl who moves into the same snowy apartment complex as a bullied boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, the young refugee from "The Road"). Although Abby warns the latchkey kid that they can't be friends or even meet in the daylight, they are soon trading Morse-code messages through the wall they share, behind which Owen sometimes hears violent arguments.
The other voice belongs to an aged man (Richard Jenkins) who ventures out at night in a trash-bag mask to forage for provisions: fresh blood for Abby.
But after one of the donors reneges (in a bravura scene with a cartwheeling car), Abby has to fend for herself against a police detective (Elias Koteas) and her own gnawing hunger. When Owen lends a trembling hand, she returns the favor by helping him disarm some schoolyard thugs. Literally.
As a tale of star-crossed companions, "Let Me In" is like a particularly icky production of "Romeo and Juliet." The movie omits a scene from the Swedish film in which Abby shows Owen that she's not exactly a girl; but other than that, director Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield") retains the queasy green-and-gray palette and the shrieking, insectoid attack scenes that set it apart from conventional horror flicks.
With its mix of true-blood romance and full-moon madness, "Let Me In" should hasten the twilight of the twerpy pretenders.