Let Us In (Movie Review)

Let Us In (Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: When mysterious "Black-Eyed Kids" start terrorizing her hometown and abducting her peers, a 12-year-old girl takes it upon herself to figure out exactly what's going on.

REVIEW: I would say there are two ways to watch the horror film Let Us In (watch it HERE) and get the most entertainment value out of it. The first way would be to go into it the same way I did, knowing nothing about it aside from the fact that it's a horror movie with Saw icon Tobin Bell in the cast. The other way would be to would be to watch it as part of a family with young kids, if you think the kids could handle a little bit of darkness and violence. If you have a tween who isn't familiar with the horror genre yet and want to try to turn them into a monster kid, this is basically designed to be a youngster's first horror movie.

Let Us In is described as being a "family sci-fi thriller", and I didn't know it would be aiming at such a young demographic when I started watching it, so I was baffled by the mixture of tones. The lead character is Emily (Makenzie Moss), who is dealing with a "mean girls" sort of situation at school, and when there's not something horrific going on the movie has the look and atmosphere of your average TV kids' show. The mean girls accuse Emily of being a murderer, but never mind that for a while, we need to get to scenes where she tries to fit in at a party or attempts to contact extraterrestrial lifeforms with the hi-tech set-up she and her best friend Christopher (O'Neill Monahan) have put together in his garage. Viewers who blindly go into this not knowing it's meant to be family friendly will be asking themselves "What am I watching?" repeatedly... Which is fun, in a way.

Let Us In Craig Moss O'Neill Monahan Makenzie Moss

After the goofiness, darkness falls and the horror moves in. This film is built on the urban legend of "Black-Eyed Kids", which was a new one to me but has apparently been going around since the mid-'90s. On-screen text at the beginning informs us that these "paranormal creatures" that look like kids "with pale skin and black eyes" have been seen hitchhiking, panhandling, and standing on the doorsteps of residential homes. The text then tries to convince us of their existence by saying there have been "hundreds of documented cases" where individuals around the world have come into contact with these creatures. We see plenty of characters come into contact with them over the course of Let Us In, and these youths in their hoodies and sunglasses (which they occasionally wear to cover their black eyes) are not exactly terrifying - making them ideal villains if this is the first horror movie a kid ever watches. However, they do get a little violent from time to time. The violence is on display in their very first scene, where one of them snaps the arm of a character played by From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series' Brandon Soo Hoo in a quick cameo. Then they bash the guy's girlfriend with a pipe, and within the first 6 minutes some parents will be questioning their decision to let their kid(s) watch this.

The Black-Eyed Kids' whole thing is to approach people as a group and repeatedly ask, "Will you let us in?" When their intended victims get frustrated or scared enough to say they will let them in, things just get worse for them. Soon they have abducted multiple people from the small town Emily and Christopher live in - and when someone important to both of them goes missing, our little heroes go searching for answers. They're not as cool as the Monster Squad, but they do meet their own version of "Scary German Guy" when Tobin Bell finally enters the picture, more than halfway through the 83 minute running time, playing a fellow named Mr. Munch. Mr. Munch is there to take the story even further into bonkers territory.

Let Us In Craig Moss Tobin Bell

It became clear to me early on that I, someone in the age range of the parents in this movie but without kids of my own, was not the intended audience for this movie. Let Us In isn't going to provide most adults with much entertainment unless they don't know what it is and can be baffled and blindsided like I was. It might work for younger viewers, but parents should be cautious about the violence of the Black-Eyed Kids scenes, which is out of place compared to the tone of everything around it.

Let Us In was directed by Craig Moss, best known for directing Danny Trejo in the Bad Ass trilogy and making parody films with ridiculous titles like The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He wrote the screenplay with J.W. Callero, and I'm assuming lead actress Makenzie Moss is his daughter. Don't fear the nepotism in this case, though, because the younger Moss (who was also given co-producer credit) does quite well in her role.

Monahan has some funny moments as Emily's pal Christopher, and Sadie Stanley also makes a positive impression as Christopher's sister Jessie. In addition to Tobin Bell, genre fans may recognize Judy Geeson as Emily's grandmother and Chris Gartin from Tremors II as Emily's dad.

Samuel Goldwyn Films is giving Let Us In an On Demand and Digital release on July 2nd.

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