What could be seen as a full-on horror film may in fact turn out to be something more similar to the likes of Goosebumps and The Monster Squad.
Emily is a 12-year old middle schooler whose love of science has made her the target of bullies led by Scarlett. Her only friend is the nerdy Christopher, who is working with her on a way to possibly speak to aliens from outer space. One night, Emily gets a knock on the door and discovers a group of people in black cloaks with completely black eyes. They ask her to let them in and she refuses. She finds herself assaulted but the group escapes.
When Emily learns that some of the kids have been disappearing from town, she attempts to put two and two together. When Christopher’s sister Jessie and one of Scarlett’s friends have gone missing, Emily soon discovers she has made contact with some force. Learning that the town’s crazy man, Mr. Munch, had experienced something similar before, she and Christopher decide to go see him and discover something shocking. Emily decides to find the group in hopes of rescuing Jessie and the others, but she cannot do it alone and finds some unexpected help.
It is quite interesting to learn that this has come from Craig Moss, who is best known for his work on Danny Trejo’s Bad A** trilogy. And yet at the same time, it is exciting to see that he is doing something different and here, he taps into making a horror movie that doesn’t rely on gore and blood, but more scares and jumps. He knew right away who the target audience should be when it comes to the protagonist and as a result, we get a throwback in the days of 80’s family friendly horror films like The Monster Squad and Troll to name a few with some nods to the former with the twist of aliens coming in the form of teenagers with black cloaks and completely black eyes.
The director’s daughter, Makenzie, drives the film as we see her go from bullied science geek to unsung hero as she finds herself determined to not only contact, but find a way to stop the evil forces who she nearly escaped from. Her true friend and at times, reluctant ally, Christopher is played with sheer precociousness by O’Neill Monahan while Sadie Stanley, who has been making a name for herself with roles in the live-action Kim Possible movie and The Sleep-Over, brings a sense of level-headedness as Christopher’s sister Jessie. Jessie sees Emily as a “sister” and is the connection between she and her arch-nemesis Scarlett, played by Siena Agudong, as Jessie’s is dating Scarlett’s brother, who couldn’t be more different from his sister as he’s a totally nice guy.
The big surprise of the film comes from Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, who makes a pivotal cameo as Mr. Munch, who has experienced the same thing Emily had. Munch is reminiscent of Leonardo Cimino’s Scary German Guy in The Monster Squad. However, unlike the Scary German Guy, Bell sits out in the final set piece where Emily and her allies face off against the alien kidnappers. The film’s scare scenes are more jump scares and some knockout punches and in the case of one victim, an arm break. But don’t expect any gore or blood because there is virtually none here.
If you’re into R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, Let Us In is definitely for you then as it feels like a feature length version of something he would conjure up and yet, director Craig Moss and co-writer Joe Callero give us a nice little throwback to the 80s’ more family friendly horror films with a really good young cast involved.
WFG RATING: B+
Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a Let Us In production. Director: Craig Moss. Producer: Craig Moss. Writers: Craig Moss and Joe Callero. Cinematography: Rudy Harbon. Editing: Josh Noyes.
Cast: Makenzie Moss, Sadie Stanley, O’Neill Monahan, Siena Agudong, Lauren Stabile, Mackenzie Ziegler, Conor Husting, Chris Gartin, Heidi Kramer, Tobin Bell, Aiden Bertisch.
The film comes to On Demand platforms and Digital on July 2, 2021.