The old postapocalyptic shuffle is alive in Young Ones, but this catastrophe is more credible than most such speculations. The problem here is water, which has evaporated, at least in this corner of the world. Patriarch Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon, apocalypse vet from Take Shelter) trades trinkets in exchange for supplies, and just manages to keep hold of his “farm”—a patch of brown desert—in hope that the soil needs only the rain to come back. But the film’s real attention is on the next generation, played by a trio of child stars aging into young adulthood. Holm’s patient son Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee, the kid from The Road) and resentful daughter Mary (Elle Fanning) must negotiate their future with the ambitious Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult of Warm Bodies, soon to appear in the Mad Max reboot). Ernest isn’t crazy about Flem hanging around with Mary, for reasons that turn out to be pretty well-founded.
“Let Me In” (Anchor Bay), a remake of the Swedish coming-of-age horror movie come adolescent survival drama set in the wilds of suburban civilization, is as unexpected as can be: an American revision of a celebrated European film that manages to honor the original while translating its anxiety and unease to a distinctly American setting and, if anything, deepening the emotional power of the original.
Moved from the suburbs of Stockholm to Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the depths of winter in the last gasps of the Cold War under Reagan’s presidency, it follows the same story: a bullied young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee, heartbreakingly lonely) left to drift in his own isolation as his parents withdraw in divorce and an odd, eerily confident girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) who only comes out at night and endures the snow and the chill in bare feet and summer dresses. Yes, she’s a vampire who feeds off the blood harvested by her guardian (Richard Jenkins, a hollow man with failing skills so deadened by his work that slavish devotion alone drives him). And she’s a twelve-year-old girl (“I’ve been twelve for a very long time”) who has just found a friend in a devoted boy who has been abandoned by the rest of the world.