One of the things I love the most about horror, is that there’s something for everyone. No matter what scares you, horror has got you covered. Your age doesn’t matter, either. From Tales from the Crypt to Creepshow, and of course, Stranger Things, even younger people can enjoy the happiness that only a scare can bring. Enter Let Us In, the latest film featuring Saw legend Tobin Bell. The film releases soon, but… should you let it into your schedule? Let’s find out.
As I mentioned, horror that is oriented toward younger audiences always brings a smile to my face. It’s how I got started, after all. It’s a good kind of gateway drug. And so, by making horror accessible to a younger audience, Let Us In is performing a unique duty which even big blockbuster films cannot accomplish.
Not only that, but the film forgoes the Hollywood tradition of casting increasingly older people to play kids and teenagers. All of the young characters in Let Us In are played by *gasp* actual young people. There is no shortage of good, young talent, and Makenzie Moss, Sadie Stanley (who plays a very hateable bully), Mackenzie Ziegler and O’Neill Monohan (my favorite character!) are living proof.
In fact, Monohan’s character Christopher reminded me of a film I used to love growing up: Top Kids. It featured F1 world champion Niki Lauda, and a bunch of kids who, thanks tech-oriented friends, travel back in time to race with Niki against famous people. It’s a hoot. And Christopher’s nerdom is equally as endearing.
And then, there’s Tobin Bell. He does not get up to much, with screen time somewhere in the low double-digits. But as always, he delivers the chills in stellar fashion.
Finally, using creepypasta and urban legends such as the black-eyed kids for the premise of the film roots the movie in pre-existing lore, facilitating a viewer’s ability to latch onto the subject matter.
Sadly, not all is great in Let Us In. Though the premise of alien life taking the shape of black-eyed teenagers has the potential of being terrifying, Let Us In doesn’t quite get there. And it’s sadly a bit of its own undoing. One minute, the movie deals with grief and kidnapping and other, very serious, topics. In that same scene, it will have Christopher or one of the other characters make puns or jokes, sometimes in the same conversation. It feels a bit like the movie doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, or how to get there.
It’s a bit of a shame, because as I mentioned, the performances are great. I’m sure the actors would have shone even more had the script gone through a few more drafts.
Another tonal incongruence is the portrayal of middle schoolers. I must admit, it’s been about 25 years since I was in middle school. But there was a lot less partying and lip gloss, and a lot more Pokémon when I was in 7th grade.
Finally, a very personal gripe that most people will have no issues with. Most of Christopher’s alien-detection gear is, in reality, run-of-the-mill audio equipment. It may look like fancy electronics to most people, I realize. But as someone who used to own a recording studio, I’m sadly aware of the fact that it cannot, actually, communicate with aliens.
Let Us In – The Final Verdict
So, should you watch Let Us In? That depends. If you’re an adult horror fan watching a film on your own, I don’t think this film is for you. However, for families with younger members, or for younger horror fans wanting to go up a tiny notch in the mature subject matter department, Let Us In is a perfectly good (if somewhat flawed) way to spend one’s afternoon.
Let Us In releases on demand and digitally this Friday, July 2nd. Visit the movie’s official website for more information: Let Us In – SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS
Despite tonal incongruence and younger target demographic, Let Us In is a perfectly fine way to spend an afternoon.