Indie British thrillers are usually a sure thing. Maybe it’s their dry humor or tendency to simply charm the pants off of us with their accents, but flicks like Severance and Eden Lake prove that low-budget, independent thrillers from across the pond are generally a welcome addition to your DVD collection. Sadly, Don’t Let Him In is not one of those movies.
Don’t Let Him In follows the unfortunate experience of two couples as they visit a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. Happy couple Paige and Calvin is forced to deal with Mandy, Calvin’s immature sister, and Tristan, her most recent one-night stand. Upon their arrival they learn of the “Tree Surgeon,” a serial killer with a penchant for hanging body parts from the trees. As they settle in for a night of incessant bickering and a healthy dose of mistrust, the arrival of a mysterious man, stabbed by an unknown assailant, causes an otherwise ordinary night to devolve into a struggle for survival. Mediocrity ensues.
Which is a shame, really. Don’t Let Him In is, at heart, a slasher film, yet it desperately wants to be a psychological thriller. Working under the auspices of the “whodunit” motif, the film starts off slow, attempting to build suspense through questionable characters with unclear motives. Once things take a turn for the worse in a rather predictable fashion, we’re treated to yet another predictable twist that attempts to make the film more than it really is. Wrap it up with a cheap explanation as to why everything is happening at the end, and you’ve got nothing more than a lazy 79-minute bore.
Given that it’s direct-to-DVD, the amount of extras are pretty impressive, with a behind-the-scenes featurette, clocking in at 41:22, topping the list. While the film itself leaves a lot to be desired, the opening spiel by writer/director/producer Kelly Smith talking about the long road that lead him to making the film is rather interesting. In watching Smith discuss the idea behind his film, his words echo many of mine in the review above. I suppose this is a good thing; he did get the point across, it just didn’t work in the way he had hoped. Despite this, hearing Smith talk about the film gives you a newfound respect for it. You may not like the movie, but his passion and love for it and independent film is undeniable and admirable.
Sadly, fans of visual FX are left with little more than a 01:16 collection of scenes that quickly compares before and after scenes of many of the film’s effects shots, created by Aetas Film. Sure, it’s interesting (as someone ignorant of how most effects or done, I found it rather intriguing), but it’s so short it’s nothing more than a tease. Tack on a trailer and the requisite commentary, the latter of which is pretty impressive for a DTV independent horror flick, and you round out the special features. Some good, some bad, but enough to compel fans of the film to purchase it.