Well, I have good news and bad news. Let Me In is a well-cast, well-constructed horror film. Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1983, Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was great in The Road, is Owen, a lonely little boy whose parents are splitting up and who’s regularly picked on at school. One snowy night in the courtyard of his apartment building, he meets Abbie (played by Kick Ass’ Chloe Grace-Moritz), his new neighbor, who isn’t exactly the 12-year-old girl she appears to be. Neither is Richard Jenkins, the grown man who accompanies her. He’s not her father—his job is to scour the region for the blood Abbie needs to stay alive. Owen and Abbie form an unlikely bond. He desperately needs a friend, and Abbie needs—well, it’s tough to know if companionship is what she really needs, but it isn’t easy to get into the mind of a girl who’s been 12 for, as she says, a very long time.
Both young actors are talented and appealing, and director Matt Reeves stays almost too faithful to the original. This is a fantastic story, and, all told, it’s a perfectly serviceable remake, but what’s missing is the sense of menace in the original. What made Let the Right One In so creepy was that you were never sure what would become of the young boy. If you’ve seen the Swedish version, you know how Owen will end up. Either way, you never quite feel as though he’s as imperiled as the kid was in the bork-bork-bork edition.
Buried: Ryan Reynolds plays a contractor in Iraq who wakes up in a coffin. Armed with a lighter and a cell phone, he needs to sort out who put him there—and why.
Case 39: Idealistic social worker Renee Zellweger tries to do the right thing by taking a little girl away from her abusive parents. That would be great. Unless she finds out the girl is actually the devil.
Chain Letter: Spam sucks, but if you’re a good-looking teen who doesn’t forward this mail, a psychopath will kill you.
Dandelion Dust: Barry Pepper is an ex-con who learns he has a child who was given up for adoption.
Freakonomics: Half a dozen directors, including Oscar winner Alex Gibney, Morgan Spurlock and King of Kong helmer Seth Gordon, take on segments based on the pop logic of the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dunbar.
Hatchet 2: The sequel to Adam Green’s gorefest ups the sex and violence, turning it into the biggest unrated theatrical release ever.
The Social Network: David Fincher’s new film about the early days of Facebook is more entertaining than 99.9 percent of status updates. See our review on Page 22.
White Wedding: South African road-trip comedy about a groom desperately trying to make it to the church on time.
You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger: The latest one from Woody Allen is a cynical look at marriage. Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Antonio Banderas and a host of others are linked together in some way, and none of them is very happy about it.
ONE TIME ONLY
San Diego Film Festival: This year’s fest runs heavy on dramas, documentaries and parties. Not to missed: Norman, Waiting for “Superman”, Just About Famous, and the opener, morning. Hit sdff.org for a complete list of films and ticket info. The fest runs Wednesday, Sept. 29, through, Sunday, Oct. 3, at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas. CityBeat’s Anders Wright will be introducing “Local Love,” a collection of locally made shorts, Thursday at 8 p.m.
Beauty and the Beast Sing- Along: It’s a tale as old as time, apparently. Also, this was the first animated flick to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, and noon on Saturday, Oct. 2. Check fathomevents.com for tickets and locations.
La Mission: Benjamin Bratt is a reformed gang leader and single parent who has to come to terms with his only son’s sexuality. Bratt’s brother directed the movie, which screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Otay Ranch Town Center. Free. Presented by the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Weird Science: This John Hughes movie is like taking a trip in the Wayback Machine. Anthony Michael Hall and some other guy build the perfect woman (Kelly LeBrock) with a science kit. And, yeah, that high-school bad guy is Robert Downey Jr. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover: This look at what happens when the wife of a boorish restaurant owner takes a lover is sweetly disturbing in its use of love, sex, murder, food and cannibalism. A food-appropriate potluck begins at 7, and the film rolls at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Ray Street Studios in North Park.
Excellent Cadavers: The San Diego Italian Film Festival continues its anti- Mafia series with this ’99 TV movie that stars Chazz Palminteri and F. Murray Abraham. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
The Exorcist: The Director’s Cut: Not to be confused with the recent remake, William Friedkin’s cut of the ’73 classic is still horrifying after all these years. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at several area theaters.
Check fathomevents.com for locations and ticket info.
The Incredibles: This Pixar super hero story is absolutely super. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, poolside at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley. Free.
The Birds: Those crows outside your window? They’re watching you, just waiting for you to let your guard down. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, through Saturday, Oct. 2, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
La Ofrenda: This documentary about the Day of the Dead is being screened at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at the Sherman Heights Community Center.
Food and Film: The San Diego Italian Film Festival puts four short films dealing with Italian food myths into practice with a massive meal at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at the UCSD Faculty Club. RSVP required: 858-534-0876
Sabar: African dance flick is presented at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at the WorldBeat Center in Balboa Park.
Reed, México Insurgente: The latest in the Museum of Photographic Arts’ classic Mexican film series is about John Reed, who filed newspaper accounts of the Mexican Revolution. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at MoPA in Balboa Park.
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story: Documentary about the brothers Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote Disney classics like “It’s a Small World” and “I Want to be Like You.” Screens at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, at the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla.
COTTON 2001 / 2010: Hans Wiegand accompanies his own Deep Water Horizon exhibition with a work in progress that’s explained as a crime story in an artistic milieu. The artist will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Screens at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, at the UCSD Visual Arts Facility Performance Space.
Scream: Is this the only movie Drew Barrymore didn’t make it out of? Screens at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, at the Birch North Park Theatre. Booze is now allowed in the theater.
Dial “M” for Murder: Reading Cinemas kicks off its titillatingly titled Hitchcocktober with the 1954 classic, starring Ray Milland as a former tennis pro looking to have his wife, Grace Kelly, killed. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Reading Gaslamp, Downtown.
California Surf Festival: This epic fest hangs more than 10 feature films from Wednesday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, Oct. 10, in Oceanside. Go to surfmuseum.org and click “Events” for details.
Animal House: The only toga party you should ever attend. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
A Film Unfinished: Yael Hersonski’s documentary about our under standing of footage shot by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto is fascinating and challenging.
Bran Nue Dae: This Aussie musical with Geoffrey Rush, about Aboriginal integration in the ’60s, should have stayed on stage. Ends Sept. 30 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Heartbreaker: French film about a man paid to break up other people’s failing relationships. It’s a great gig, until he meets the right (or, perhaps, wrong) girl.
Jack Goes Boating: Phillip Seymour Hoffman steps behind and in front of the camera, starring in his own directorial debut about two working class couples in New York City. The stage version also happens to be currently in production in Hillcrest.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: Animated, PG-rated owl film directed by Zack Snyder, the guy behind Watchmen and 300.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: It’s been 23 years since Oliver Stone told us that greed was good. Yes, Gordon Gecko is back, but he’s almost extraneous, as green energy Wall Streeter Shia LaBeouf dukes it out with sleazy megatrader Josh Brolin. It’s simplistic and sporadically entertaining.
You Again: Kristen Bell is mortified when she learns that her brother is marrying Joanna, her high-school nemesis. Her mom (Jamie Bell Curtis) tries to get her to chill, until she discovers that Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) is her own version of Joanna.
Alpha and Omega: Because there just aren’t enough 3-D animated movies about animals. Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere are a pair of wolves who have to learn whether love can overcome the pack’s social order. We’re guessing it can.
Easy A: Emma Stone finally gets a starring role in this about-face turn on The Scarlet Letter. She’s Olive, a non-promiscuous high-schooler who gets a reputation for being easy—and proceeds to use it to get ahead.
Devil: Five people enter an elevator, and one of them’s the devil. Hey, it was M. Night Shyamalan’s idea.
Soul Kitchen: Charming German foodie-movie about a restaurant owner who unwisely sets his lowlife brother up to manage his spot while he goes to China to save his relationship. It’s funny and sweet, like a good meal should be.
The Town: Ben Affleck directs himself (not a euphemism). He’s a Boston thug torn between bad-guy buddy Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively, a bank manager he once stuck up (also not a euphemism). Oh, and FBI man Jon Hamm is hot on his trail (still no euphemism).
Flipped: It’s love at first sight when Juli first meets Bryce, even though they’re only in the second grade. Rob Reiner directs.
Resident Evil: Afterlife: In 3-D. Yep.
The Tillman Story: Steady-handed and depressing documentary about the cover-up over the friendly-fire death of the football player turned Army Ranger.
The American: George Clooney is a sensitive hit man who has to pull One Last Job.
Machete: Danny Trejo finally gets his own movie. Robert Rodriguez turns him into a Mexican killing machine by adapting the faux trailer the duo made for Grindhouse.
Lewis & Clark: Follow the famed adventurers adventures. In IMAX! Screens Fridays at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Mao’s Last Dancer: Bruce Beresford directs this biopic of Li Cunxin, who was chosen by the Chinese government to become a world-class ballet dancer.
The Virginity Hit: Mockumentary à la Blair Witch about a geeky dude taking the plunge. And by plunge, we mean having sex.
Cairo Time: Patricia Clarkson is a reserved magazine editor who chums around Cairo with her husband’s former U.N. security guard (Alexander Siddig) when events in Gaza prevent her hubby from meeting her there. Ends Sept. 30 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Eat Pray Love: Julia Roberts does all of the above. Women swoon.
The Expendables: Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren and some wrestlers kill people.
Get Low: Robert Duvall does crotchety old man better than anyone, and this crotchety old man wants to throw himself a funeral party while he’s still alive. Ends Sept. 30 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
The Other Guys: Mark Ferrell and Will Wahlberg team up as cops. Or is it the other way around?
Inception: Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight is epic, complex and beautiful. In short, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
The Kids Are All Right: Decent family drama about a lesbian couple played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore whose family is altered when their children seek out the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) who made it all possible.
The Girl Who Played with Fire: The second film in the massively successful Millennium trilogy gives us more of Lisbeth Salander, the ass-kicking female hacker heroine, and less originality.
The Living Sea: The latest IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center looks at all the creepy crawlies that live down in the deep blue.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: Blah blah blah Robert Pattinson. Blah blah blah Taylor Lautner.
The Ultimate Wave Tahiti: The latest IMAX entry at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park follows super surfer Kelly Slater as he does his thing on some massive waves.
Toy Story 3: Any idea where the toys you loved as a kid ended up? When Andy goes off to college, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang end up at a day-care center.
Hubble: Leonardo DiCaprio lends his pipes to this IMAX film, which uses CGI and real footage to take a close look at saturn’s rings. Just stay away from Uranus. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.