Review: Let Us In (2021)

  • Director: Craig Moss
  • Writer: JW Callero, Craig Moss
  • Stars:  Tobin Bell, Lauren Stamile, Siena Agudong

Review

Films carrying the ideas in Let Us In are rare. I would even call them extinct, since at some point in the eighties they were pretty popular in genre cinema. Here is a town, with dumb cops, with a high school filled with bullies and parties with underage drinking. Even when something dangerous happens, teenagers don’t notice and keep on doing their thing. Yeah, I know. Formulas.

What makes the film a little bit interesting is the naiveté of its storyline. The idea of a couple of kids experimenting and coming up with something big, and getting respect from the town, is something that we don’t see that much.

However, uniqueness is not enough. Let Us In is a film with too many flaws in the concept it approaches. There is a good story here but a weird identity makes the film uncomfortable and hard to absorb. 

In Let Us in a town is being pillaged by strange encounters. Teens are going missing and the ones behind the events seem to be the stuff of folklore: people with black eyes and black clothes that invite people to “let them in”. Cases increase and of course people get concerned.

One of the victims who managed to escape is 12-year-old Emily, a kid who’s being bullied all the time. She’s gone through a horrific tragedy and a younger kid seems to be her only friend. They spend all day trying to communicate with aliens.

As both kids start investigating the cases of the “black eyed kids” they meet a man who’s willing to shed some light on the case. Decades ago, he was a victim of a kidnapping. But they took him some place that’s not of this world, and it seems the current crimes have some relation with this. Emily and her young friend will stop at nothing to find the truth. 

What really works in the film is these kids’ relationship. Their scenes are pure gold as they both are immersed in their roles; the sleuths we like, the Amblin-esque attitude that makes films of this nature better. Young actress Makenzie Moss leads the film with grace and confidence. The “age” discrepancies are there, but they don’t harm her performance.

But then the film keeps getting bumped towards a larger mystery, one that has to do with the strange beings. In this regard, the film’s narrative path works. However, I doubt the audience may care. The truth behind the events is interesting and it’s explained in a good sequence involving Tobin Bell. But the movie’s climax is terribly shot and edited and ends up being a horrible version of something we imagined would happen.

It’s very weird since the film could have gone in another direction and it was noticeable: Was there a problem with the highly functional subplot of the two kids messing around with gadgets and nothing else?

Let Us In has spirit but it barely shows with its constant humor spikes and a really weird “age model”; Emily is twelve, but for some reason she’s thrown in situations for older teens. I enjoyed some parts, but it’s severely flawed to be considered a worthy choice in today’s cinemas.

The film could use some changes in its third act and not depend too much on a plot resolution that’s hard to conceive with so little information. However, films are created by people that want to tell a story and entertain, regardless of your personal feelings on the film and we should always have respect for that.

Available On Demand and Digital 2nd July 2021

Federico Furzan | Twitter@federicofurzan

You can read more from Federico at https://screentology.com/

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