Run time: 116 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st October 2010
Box Office USA: $12.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $24.1M
Distributed by: Overture Films
Production compaines: Hammer Film Productions, EFTI, Overture Films, Exclusive Media Group
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 193 Rotten: 26
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Matt Reeves
Screenwriter: Matt Reeves
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby, Richard Jenkins as The Father, Elias Koteas as The Policeman, Sasha Barrese as Virginia, Dylan Kenin as Larry, Dylan Minnette as Kenny, Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak as Mark (as Jimmy Jax Pinchak), Nicolai Dorian as Donald, Seth Adkins as High School Kid
In 1983 New Mexico, Owen (Smit-McPhee) lives with his absent mother (Buono) in a generic apartment complex. It's the dead of winter, and a new neighbour attracts Owen's interest: Abby (Moretz) is also 12 years old, "more or less".
Although she says they can't be friends, they clearly already are. And Owen needs a friend, since he's being horribly bullied at school by Kenny (Minnette) and his pals. But Abby has problems too: she needs human blood to survive and her guardian (Jenkins) is struggling to supply it.
Writer-director Reeves takes a subdued, gradual approach to the story, playing up its horror elements and building a strong sense of tension between the two central characters and everyone else. This makes the interaction very disconcerting, even when the film cuts loose and becomes a full-on horror movie from time to time, complete with scenes of gruesome violence and jarring special effects.
But through all of this, Reeves keeps the tone whispery and plaintive, with actors directed to almost slow-motion performances that feel a little draggy as the tension builds for the next big action-scare sequence. In this respect, Michael Giacchino's score is extremely distracting, telling us what to feel every step of the way and cranking up the violins to let us know when we should be emotional. It's far too much for a story that's actually rather delicate.
Rather than a vampire thriller, this is essentially tale of two young souls who come together in an unusual way. Both Smit-McPhee and Moretz are mesmerising in their roles, lending the characters far more depth and meaning than we expect.
These are full-bodied performances that make the film work even when Reeves gets lost in atmospheric gimmickry, grotesque violence or awkward digital trickery. But when all of this comes together in a moment of sheer terror, it's remarkably effective.