One Really Shouldn’t Let Us In (2021) If They’d Like to Be Entertained
Title: Let Us In
First Non-Festival Release: July 2, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Craig Moss
Writer: Joe Callero, Craig Moss
Runtime: 79 Minutes
Starring: Makenzie Moss, O’Neill Monahan, Eric Callero, Tobin Bell
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After a tragic accident left her an outcast at school, Emily (Makenzie Moss) works with her best friend Christopher (O’Neill Monahan) on an extracurricular science project focused on contacting aliens from outer space. What starts as fun turns into mystery as they realize that a rash of kidnappings has happened all over town with some of the victims being their classmates and friends. It’s not until Emily is face to face with these attackers when they come for her. After explaining to the police that a group of black-eyed kids tried to harm her, she is faced with incredulousness. She realizes she’ll need to get to the bottom of this if the police refuse to listen.
Dull and mediocre, Let Us In doesn’t concern itself with crafting atmosphere, good dialogue, or interesting characters to sell its story.
The creepypasta story of the ‘Black Eyed Children’ is one that has intrigued the internet since it began circling around forums and creative fiction websites. One of the biggest challenges of tackling one of those stories is crafting a compelling online to film adaptation. It rarely works. Let Us In is no different, as the magic and mystery behind a particularly creepy story vanishes with the filmmaker’s explanation behind the madness.
Many of the rules seem arbitrary without reason and don’t make sense within the narrative. One egregious moment at the end betrays several integral aspects of the story but it does get in one last “scare” before the credits roll. The laziness involved with the retelling of the legend is disappointing. When the best thing is the unassuming character design of teenage looking aliens, you have a big problem. Overall, the film is more unintentionally hilarious than it is unsettling, which is disappointing considering the potential it had to tell something truly freaky.
Featuring some of the most atrocious and cliched dialogue committed to film in recent history, Let Us In bombards the viewer with gems like “I’m as serious as a tornado” and “bye, Felicia!” They make a reference to a film that came out in 1995 which saw a resurgence in popularity in the mid 2010s, and is quipped by a random white middle schooler in a film made and released in 2021. The lack of understanding the pop culture landscape is astounding here. Just about every child actor is forced to utter the most precocious and insipid dialogue that it verges on the absurd. Furthermore, the screenwriters are obsessed with incorporating as much AAVE (African America Vernacular English) and gen Z trendy words they can cram into the script without any regard for its intended meaning or proper use. Again, this not only fails to account for young people not talking like this but borderlines parody with their insistence.
Tobin Bell gives his usual gravelly exposition dump in the middle of the film relaying the trauma he went through in losing his partner. He’s always a treat but it’s frustrating to see him type casted. The Black-Eyed Children themselves come across as more smug than threatening. Everyone else in the cast gives their made for tv best performance and call it a day with the child actors really struggling to emote and hit comic timing.
The morality of the characters gets irritating pretty quickly. Everyone is squarely within the “good” or “bad” columns based on how they treat Emily, who can do no wrong. Emily is a flat character without much depth. Her one flaw is essentially not shaking off the bullies whenever they get her down. It’s boring. Not only is everyone ascribed a morality without any real character development, but the stereotypes they get stuck with fail to improve the banality of their design.
The worst part of this film is that the foundation for a great story is there but it isn’t taken seriously. The internet lore is vast enough to cobble together enough components that could easily make this story positively bone-chilling. Unfortunately, it comes across as nothing more than a slightly more violent Disney Channel movie without the charm or recognizable faces. Let Us In trades scares for chances to make a really clever one-liner stick without any of them igniting a chuckle or positive thought in general. Let Us In doesn’t deserve to co-opt such a cool concept and any attempts it has to break into your streaming queue should be met with a resounding and whole-hearted “no.”
Overall Score? 3.5/10