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A Unique Approach to the Traditional Slasher: Don't Let Him In (Review)

Kelly Smith’s, Don’t Let Him In is billed as little more than a contemporary slasher film. Given the genuine crux and overall complexity of the tale, I think that is a poor misrepresentation. The slasher sub-genre appeals to a niche market that many feel stands on flimsy legs, yet here we’re dealing with a film that slasher fans can embrace, just as psychological horror fans. There’s nothing cut and dried about the film.

Initially, I think Smith and co-writer Chris Andrews really want viewers to believe they’re about to enter into the typical world of slasher insanity with a masked menace stalking desolate forest trails. Early cliché dialogue and predictable setups clearly indicate that that was the intention. I’ll be the first to tell you, it works. We’ve got what looks to be the sure bet red herring, a trip to a desolate country house locale and all the typical challenges victims run into during a slasher: no phone reception, the big strong men are eliminated early; “survivor girl” is so obvious it’s ridiculous. There are a multitude of shallow expectations put into motion. And then the momentum shifts.

The first 50 minutes of the film feel more like a ploy than an ascent to chaos. It’s all one big trick that effectively leaves viewers aloof (because it seems so damn predictable!). I won’t dare give away any gnificant spoilers, but I’ll say this: you will not get the typical backwoods slasher film you’ll expect after reading the disc’s synops; these are clever filmmakers at work who knew to throw a curveball few could clip.

Speaking of the filmmaking itself, there’s some interesting technical work on display. The cinematography is generally quite crisp and clean. However, we’re treated a few unique distance and angle shots that go a long way in illuminating weakness, which is interesting condering most horror films tend to receive the upward angle to emphaze power, while Don’t Let Him In works in almost an oppote fashion. There are a few pans that feel as though they’ll lead to nice reward, but sharp cutaways kill the suspense rather than punctuate the technique. Just like the story itself, the film is remarkably interesting for many different reasons.

There’s a solid cast at work here, but the true respect must be dished upon Sophie Linfield and Sam Hazeldine who portray polar oppotes, but work quite well together, and truth be told, Gordon Alexander does a bang up job of creating near palpable tenon during mple dialogue scenes. All in all, there really are no weak links in the ensemble, and that adds to the enjoyment of the picture.

At just 79 minutes, Don’t Let Him In is a well-paced flick that has its flaws, but also carries a strange charm, and what I can only call an intellect destined to be minterpreted. There are some bright techniques applied to this story, but I’m not certain the nearly invible wink at the camera will be enough to tip viewers off: look beyond the surface, this is a multidimenonal story with some noteworthy strength’s.

Grade: C+
Matt_Molgaard Thursday 12/15/2011 at 05:13 AM | 88280