However, let it be said that this is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and moving films of the year.
Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) maintains the look and feel of the movie by bathing the frequent nighttime scenes in blue hones. The crisp snowscape is now set in New Mexico, but the apartment courtyard where the two principals initially meet is nearly identical to the original.
Chronically bullied Owen (Kodi Smit-McGhee) notices a young girl and her father who have moved into his complex. Over the course of several nights, he strikes up a friendship with the mysterious girl, bonding over a mutual love of puzzles and games.
She is guarded at first, but eventually warms up to Owen. However, it is quickly apparent that she is no ordinary child. She walks barefoot in the snow, by choice. She shuns the daytime hours, and her relationship with her “father” appears a bit more sinister as time goes by.
Elias Koteas appears in a new role as a detective who is investigating a rash of local murders. The young actors in the movie are amazing. Chloe Moretz proves that her performance in Kick Ass was no fluke. Her beautiful features are downplayed, and she manages to pull off the androgynous qualities of Abby, an ageless vampire.
Kodi Smit-McPhee captures the innocence of Owen, and is convincing as an outsider tormented by cruel school children.
Here, Owen is somewhat more approachable than in the original. He is quirky without being outright bizarre, and his character is a bit more believable and sympathetic.
The chaste love story between the two outcasts is a little easier to swallow in this film, and is more actualized.
Richard Jenkins is an inspired casting choice as the blindly devoted caretaker of Abby. He conveys the weariness of his character with his slumped body language and haunted eyes. I found him to be a notch above the actor in the original.
While this version of the film is able to hold its own with the original, there is some distracting (and ill advised) CGI that is woefully out of place here.
Part of what made Abby’s character so compelling and refreshing in the original is that she represented a subtle new type of a vampire. With minimal physical transformation, Abby was utterly terrifying.
Here, Chloe’s Abby undergos the hollywood treatment, and becomes a snarling, growling monster whenever she feeds. It’s unnecessary and heavy-handed.
There are also a few scenes added to clarify the relationship between Abby and her caretaker for American audiences.
On the plus side, Reeves deftly directs the film. An astounding action sequence involving a car was all filmed in one take, and it will be talked about for years to come.
A haunting score by composer Michael Giachinno (Lost) nicely complements the movie.
Reeves has triumphed with a film that rivals its source material in beauty and style.