Makenzie Moss stars as Emily, a grade seven student who carries around guilt related to the mysterious disappearance of her sister. Her best friend, child genius Christopher (O’Neill Monahan), is working on a device to communicate with aliens, which is well timed, given that their town is overrun with space vampires known as the “black-eyed kids.” They resemble pale skinned, hoody-wearing teens who spend too much time in the basement playing video games, but don’t let looks deceive.
Based on an urban myth, these kids have black, soulless eyes, alabaster skin, the toxic odor of “rotten molasses and pig droppings,” and, as if that wasn’t creepy enough, they harvest human adolescents, sending them away through a space portal.
Like earthbound vampires, the black-eyed kids don’t like bright lights and have to be invited in to your home, hence the title “Let Us In.” Sounds polite, no? Well, there’s also this. They don’t like to be told ‘no’ and will terrorize you until you say ‘yes’ and invite them onto your property.
With kids going missing all over town, Emily and Christopher use their wits to wage war with the aliens.
“Let Us In” has all the earmarks of young adult horror. There’s a creepy old guy (Tobin Bell) in a haunted house, plenty of jump scares, creaky doors and a child prodigy. What is doesn’t have is a lot of thrills. The lo-fi story relies on throwback practical effects, dark contact lenses and loads of alabastrine make-up, but the hair on the back of your neck will never stand up.
Perhaps it’s because the space vampires don’t seem particularly menacing. A stern talking to by any of the adults in the movie and I bet they’d all run to their rooms.
So, no big scares, but it’s fun to see Tobin Bell, who played Jigsaw in the “Saw” series, provide his character’s crazy backstory and loads of exposition in a scene that serves no real purpose other than to allow the veteran actor to have a bit of fun with some flowery language.
“Let Us In” is a generic kid’s horror film with a good idea but not enough scares.