Subscribe for 99¢
let_me_in14.JPG
Chloe Moretz stars as Abby in Overture Films' "Let Me In" (2010)

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.