When I chose to watch Don’t Let Him In, a British made horror film, I was keen. I have been a fan of the type for many years and have seen some fantastic features, made by some very talented and little known film directors and production crews. The genre tends to be slightly under rated in my opinion, there are many films which are truly superb and yet few people have even heard of them? They are very often the true lifeblood of the horror industry, gritty, raw, real and totally uncommercialised. However there is the odd occasion when the vein is severed, the blood cannot be pumped around and instead spews out and is left in a bloody, mixed up mess all over the floor. Sadly Don’t Let Him In is that film.
Written and directed by Kelly Smith, a relatively unknown director, and one from whom I imagine we shall hear very little from in the future. Don’t Let Him In revolves around two couples, the first being Calvin (Rhys Meredith) and Paige (Sophie Linfield) and the second being Mandy (Gemma Harvey), Calvin’s sister, and her newly acquired and quite obnoxious beau Tristan (Gordon Alexander). The two couples head off to a family retreat in a cottage in Cornwall and are soon informed of ‘The tree surgeon’. A vicious killer who stalks the area mutilating his victims and hanging their remains from the surrounding trees, hence the name!
The start of the film, I have to say, grabbed my attention, albeit a fairly traditional one it centred around a young woman seen staggering through the woods apparently chased by someone or something, covered in blood and apparently terrified it then cut to an earlier date. This is where it all went wrong, no more than 5 minutes into the film. The acting was at best amateurish, very little by way of content and even less by way of character personality. The cast, I can only presume, must have met earlier on that morning pre-shoot as they seemed almost to be strangers to one another? When first introduced to Tristan, the instantly dislikeable new love of Mandy, we are set-up with a very simple plot line. He doesn’t wish to go on the holiday but then at that exact point in time, as he is telling Mandy no, he receives a text message telling him to lie low for a bit, an amazing coincidence and so his fate is sealed. Whilst on the subject of acting I must add that the award for worst possible actor in a film ever goes to Jason Carter who plays Sgt Utley. The man has the acting ability of a goldfish and that is being unkind to the fish! The best performance for me, and this was picking from a bad bunch, was Sam Hazeldine who plays Shawn, a mysterious drifter whom the group come across whilst staying at the cottage. His acting had a certain madness about it that was either terribly bad or, and I think this is the case, terribly good. Displaying a true mixed bag of emotion and sincerity his character was the only one whom I actually believed was who they were trying to portray.
When it comes to effects, it gets even worse I’m afraid. Okay so without big budgets effects can be a tricky thing to deliver well. This being said numerous film productions have tried and some have been very successful in their use of angles, stage blood, etc. This film however did not. The effects it did use were very poorly done, I suspect by a member of the cast as opposed to a specific team. On occasion the falseness of the effect was so apparent it was virtually laughable. With the film being of the horror genre the effects and mutilations are one of the biggest key features and needed to be right, there is no room for error, without a good effect even the best film will fail.
Overall the story and plot was reasonable, given a few tweaks and in the hands of true actors and a better director the potential was there. As I said British horror has a large place in the film community and I respect those involved in this for their attempts. Unfortunately this is like in X-factor when someone can’t sing and their family encourage them. Someone who knows the above mentioned actors/actresses and director should have said ‘STOP! You can’t do it, you have neither the talent nor the resources‘. The only reason I resisted the urge to remove the disc from the player and throw it into the open fireplace beside me whilst cackling maniacally was this review, I thought of you, you’re very welcome.
I hope you will heed my warning and leave this one on the shelves of your local film store. I have lost that 80 minutes of my life forever, you still have the opportunity to spend it more wisely and so with this review I give you time….
Director: Kelly Smith
Writers: Kelly Smith, Chris Andrews
Stars: Sophie Linfield, Sam Hazeldine, Gordon Alexander, Gemma Harvey