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Review: DON’T LET THEM IN (2020)

Don’t Let Them In had two things going against it before I watched it. It had a generic-looking poster that billed it as a cross between You’re Next and The Purge. And it was produced by Jonathan Willis, whose credits include School of the Damned and Robert Reborn. To put it another way, it sounded like another of the low-end genre films being cranked out in the UK lately. But it had been recommended it to me, so I gave it a go. Was it worth it?

Jenna (Michelle Luther) and Karl (Aidan O’Neill) are social workers. The last case of the week involves checking on David (Scott Suter, Anhedonia) a mentally challenged man recently released after 15 years in jail for killing a young girl. Despite a warning to be careful from the local policewoman (Amanda Hunt) the checkup seems to go OK. Until they try to leave. He grabs a shotgun and tells them they can’t open the door. It’ll let “them” in.

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David may have mental issues but he’s not paranoid. There are masked figures in the darkness, figures with evil intent towards everyone in the abandoned hotel David calls home. It’s going to be a long, bloody night.

Shot under the more accurate title of Devil’s Night, Don’t Let Them In isn’t the simple home invasion film the advertising makes it out to be. Nor is it the Straw Dogs variation the plot sounds like. Something that should be evident from the moment the killing starts.

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Director Mike Dunkin and co-writer Daniel Aldron have taken the home invasion idea and added a demonic twist to it. The plot reveals itself bit by bit as it unfolds, and it becomes clear very quickly very little is what it seems. I don’t want to give away too much as that would ruin it. I’ll just say the script does a nice job of making even a couple of obvious twists surprising.

Despite the small cast and limited supply of victims, Don’t Let Them In does get quite bloody. Between shotgun blasts and headless bodies, there’s considerably more of the red stuff than in many of the films coming out of the UK lately.

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Don’t Let Them In also benefits from some nice acting and interplay between the three leads. O’Neill is especially good as Karl. He starts out as an annoying prick. He’s an annoying prick at the end of the movie, too, actually. But he manages to be both funny and realistic in a lot of his reactions to what’s going on. I could see him becoming a British equivalent to Ash.

4Digital Media has released Don’t Let Them In in the US. They’ll be doing the same in the UK in July 2020. I just wish they’d had enough confidence to promote it for what it is.

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