3 out of 10
Release Date: Unknown, 2011 (DVD Premiere)
Director: Kelly Smith
Cast: Sophie Linfield, Gordon Alexander, Sam Hazeldine, Gemma Harvey, Rhys Meredith, Esther Shephard, Jason Carter
Writer: Kelly Smith
Trailer: DON’T LET HIM IN
REVIEW BY JOE PESCI II AKA MATT USHER
Don’t read this until you’ve seen the film. Or if you have no intention of seeing it. Sensible people will be in the latter camp.
I know it’s a terrible film, but I enjoyed it slightly and yes I’m ashamed to say that. It’s another film which seems to accept the principle that fatal wounds are no impediment to someone with a bone to pick, and it also breaks the cardinal rule of serial killer movies (SPOILER: never have more than one killer). The plot is stupid, the characters are as colourless a bunch as ever stayed in a Beauty Spot of Doom, the acting is monotonous, and the Beauty Spot of Doom is drabber than a wet weekend in Swindon in March. And yet…
So there’s this girl who’s just met and befriended/bedded an oikish banker (who is therefore evil). Meanwhile her boring brother and his wife/girlfriend (who is a nurse – which is very important) are heading off to remotest Devon for the weekend. So they meet up and head off to a Cottage of Inevitable Death, which is in the middle of a Beauty Spot of Doom, which just happens to be the hunting ground of the local serial killer, affectionately known as The Tree Surgeon. A cheery policeman tells our crazy kids to be careful in the woods much as you might warn someone not to lie in the sun too long. Meanwhile our boorish banker lives up to his rhyming slang and heads off to the pub. Or does he? After all he has a murderous secret! Whilst he’s out (and without an alibi) an altercation occurs! And then a hitch-hiker the nasty banker refused to pick up arrives at the Cottage of Inevitable Death, badly wounded. Thankfully nurse Sophie Linfield (UNDERGROUND) uses her nurse skills to patch him up. But why don’t his glasses fit? The stage is set for a not particularly enthralling battle of wits, double crossings and stabbings.
There’s a pointless flashback structure (one which seems to be designed purely to get the heroine into her underwear as early as possible), beginning with nurse Sophie running for her life from the unseen chopper-wielding murderer before flashing back to see how they got into this mess. This adds nothing to the proceedings other than to tell us who’s going to live longest. Couldn’t they have opened with the bad guy chasing an earlier victim?
The film follows the standard template: assemble drippy characters, send them to danger-zone, show some dangers, make one or more of them behave suspiciously, introduce another figure, let the bloodbath commence. It’s very flat and lacking in atmosphere, and there’s just not much to look at. The film is devoid of originality but it is a kind of nice homage to other better films. Even our serial killer isn’t particularly interesting. The characters are some of the dumbest individuals you will ever encounter in movies – in spite of the title’s instruction they do let him in, twice. The actors are decent enough but rarely get to flesh out their characters. Gordon Alexander (SUCKER PUNCH) as oikish Tristan is an oikish oik, his girlfriend is only ever a selfish dumb blonde, the husband is basically Mark Hebden from The Archers whilst the plucky nurse / heroine is well meaning and resourceful. As for KILLER TREE MAN he gets to do dribbly manic laughter. I guess I just gave the game away there. Sorry, spoiler-phobes.
But there is the fun to be had in guessing the dark secrets. Hopefully my spoilers haven’t given too much away (apart from the number and identities of the killers) but you may be mildly diverted trying to work out who did what and when and why no-one has worked it out and why is the idiot telling the killer he knows he’s a killer when they’re in an Isolated Fishing Lake of Murder? Don’t Let Him In is a brief nothing-special-often-awful-sometimes-quite-fun kind of film. It’s forgettable nonsense.
I admit that, having been exposed to a seemingly infinite diet of films including Basement, Deranged and Underground, my critical faculties may have been irreparably damaged. Don’t Let Him In doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a tawdry shocker. I wouldn’t say it succeeds in that ambition, but it does do what it sets out to do. True, all that is is kill a bunch of obnoxious characters in a claustrophobic setting, and in doing that it does nothing more than keep some actors and crew members off the streets for a few weeks. But, at the very least, should you find an hour and a quarter of spare time which you don’t mind wasting, you will at least find a film where you’ll send that time shouting the title at the characters on screen. And how often does that happen?
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Sophie Linfield: Bodyguard – A New Beginning, Underground (2008)
- Gordon Alexander: The Anomaly, The Grind, Sucker Punch (2008), Underground (2008), Baseline, The Purifiers
- Sam Hazeldine: The Mechanic 2, Grimsby, ’71, The Machine (2014), The Monuments Men, Peaky Blinders (TV), Dead Mine, The Raven, Weekender