Let Us In, like They Reach and The Summer of ’84, wants to be to this generation what films like The Gate and The Monster Squad were for late 80s kids. That is a film that’s scary enough to actually be called a horror film while being family friendly enough parents won’t feel guilty letting their kids watch it. In other words a good introduction to the genre. That’s not easy to do as anyone who’s sat through a thrilless PG genre film can attest. Can director Craig Moss (Bad Ass, The Charnel House) and co-writer Eric Callero (Flying Saucer Rock ‘N’ Roll) pull it off?
14 year old Emily (Makenzie Moss, The Unicorn, God Bless the Broken Road) who is in therapy with issues stemming from the death of her best friend. It doesn’t help that the other kids blame her for it. Her only real friend is Chris (O’Neill Monahan, General Hospital), a nerdy type who might suffer from autism. They’re working on their project for the science fair, a homemade radio to contact extraterrestrials.
They’re so busy in fact they haven’t noticed the rash of kids disappearing from the town. Not until a pack of children with completely black eyes and a vocabulary that consists of “Will you let us in?” turns up at her door one night. And they’re not taking no for an answer.
Let Us In taps into The Black Eyed Kids urban legend. It’s a fairly creepy one and one that, surprisingly, I haven’t seen used before in a film. For those that are curious about it there’s an episode of PBS’s Monstrum devoted to them on YouTube. Unfortunately, for most of the film’s length they have dark glasses on rather than showing their eyes. Between the glasses, hoodies and the fact they all look to be in their teens they resemble a boy band about to shoot a video for “Sunglasses At Night ” more than a threat of unknown origin.
They make a fitting adversary for Emily and Chris, setting up a kids versus pseudo kids conflict. Also, since there is so little known about the origins of the allegedly real ones, it’s a perfect entry point for the rabbit hole the plot ends up going down. That includes Mr. Munch (Tobin Bell, Saw, Belzebuth) who was a kid the last time they appeared in town. And remember the kids’ science project? It’s going to come in handy.
Obviously a plot like this is going to appeal more to kids than to adults who will probably have trouble getting past the radio link to aliens. There were a few scenes that had me on edge, but for the most part I found Let Us In to be an amusing diversion the younger me would have loved.
I do question if some of the violence in Let Us In might be a bit disturbing for younger kids. There’s no blood, but it looks and sounds very painful, particularly a girl having her ankle snapped. Also, some of the kids’ use of slang feels a little overdone and forced. Besides that though I can’t really quibble too much with Let Us In. It kept me occupied even if it didn’t scare me, and I’m sure it will have those in its intended demographic looking over their shoulders.
Two things to watch for. Judy Geeson has a couple of scenes as Emily’s grandmother. In a career that started in 1962 she has appeared in, among many other films, Inseminoid, The Eagle Has Landed, It Happened at Nightmare Inn, The Plague Dogs and Lords of Salem. Also, don’t turn it off when the film fades out, there’s one more scene before the credits.
Let Us In is available to stream via Samuel Goldwyn Films. You can check their website for more information.