Let Us In is only for viewers without hair on their chinny chin chins. This pre-teen horror flick offers passable entertainment for kids who aren’t old enough to drink coolers on weekends. But even budding horror nerds know when a film neither huffs nor puffs, but merely blows.
The terror begins at Twink Lake where a young (heterosexual) couple is terrorized by strangers with darkened eyes. The kids discover that doing it in the bush can be dangerous when the strangers morosely creep onto the scene. They ask, “Will you let us in?” They ask it again. And again. And again. These vampiric punks need an invitation. But whether the unsuspecting kids at Twink Lake let the strangers in or not, carnage ensues.
The strangers all sport gloomy hoodies and have very dark eyes that pop out from their sullen, pasty skin. These punk kids reflect an apparent urban legend about no-good-teens with beady eyes who present themselves on doorsteps. Surely, Let Us In is channelling a metaphor. (Fear of the other, and all that.)
The terror then sets its sights on Emily (Makenzie Moss) a twelve-year-old outsider who experiences bullying at school. One night, Emily is home alone when she receives a knock on the door. “Will you let us in?” they creepers in hoodies ask. She resists and runs upstairs (naturally) but the kids break through the skylight even without her consent. Emily survives the ordeal, but even the cops doubt the sincerity of her account. Apparently, the fuzz got word that Emily’s a booger.
Emily nevertheless finds an ally in her young friend Christopher (O’Neill Monahan). As more kids from school go missing, they contact aliens on Christopher’s newfangled ham radio. (Why not?) They even get some advice from the creepy old man down the street. In a glorified cameo, Saw’s Tobin Bell plays the local nutter and strokes his beard while giving the kids sage wisdom. Bell’s clearly enjoying the role, or, more likely, the paycheck. He gamely sells the convoluted plot about bug-eyed kids travelling through wormholes to abduct human teens in order to breed them as slaves in outer space. Emily and Christopher therefore coordinate with the aliens on the airwaves, grab some flashlights, and save the bullies. Logic be damned!
“Smells Like Cheese and Butt”
With its creeper kids, worm holes, airwave aliens, and jovial Jigsaw, Let Us In doesn’t make any sense. To it’s credit, though, it never aims for brains. Let Us In is silly escapism that unabashedly lifts from horror/sci-fi staples. There’s a little Nightmare on Elm Street and the strangers are Children of the Corn gone emo. However, the baddies just aren’t scary. When they repeat the same five words monotonously, the film runs out of gas quickly. There aren’t any decent kills or scares, either, and some of these kids really deserve to be pulverized.
It’s all very much a family-oriented horror movie—weird, but admirable. However, this is also the kind of movie where characters describe the villains as smelling like “cheese and butt.” It took me a second to realize they weren’t talking about the screenplay.
Let Us In is in digital release as of July 2.