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Don't Let Him In

DVD Review: Don't Let Him In / Cert 18 / Director: Kelly Smith / Screenplay: Chris Andrews, Kelly Smith / Starring: Sophie Linfield, Sam Hazeldine, Gordon Alexander, Gemma Harvey / Release Date: October 29th

What if you invited a serial killer on holiday? That is the intriguing question asked by Don't Let Him In, a low budget British horror film from first time director Kelly Smith.

Paige (Linfield) and Calvin (Rhys Meredith) are setting off for a weekend away, with his sister Mandy (Harvey) in tow. Unexpectedly, Mandy asks if her latest conquest Tristan (Alexander), an obnoxious city trader, can tag along. Tristan isn't too keen on the idea but a text message telling him to lay low changes his mind.

A warning from the local bobby (Jason Carter) to be aware that a serial killer, dubbed the Tree Surgeon due to his penchant for cutting up his victims and tying them to trees, has been active in the area puts the group on edge, but they decide to stay and make the most of their break. When Tristan fails to return from picking up some supplies, Calvin and Mandy head out to look for him, and a badly injured hitch hiker, Shawn (Hazeldine) turns up at the cottage. Tristan is not happy about helping him, but it soon becomes apparent that he is hiding more than just a bad attitude and appalling manners.

Despite its brisk 75min running time, Don't Let Him In manages to pack a lot in. There's plenty of gore, and some well-handled scares. There's a slight problem with the mystery of who the killer is, but that is really down to the aforementioned tag line, which gives the viewer the tip off, but even then writer/director Smith manages to pull a few rugs. It is clear he is a talent to watch with a passion for this style of film, and it will be interesting to see what he can come up with when he is given a bigger budget. His experience in editing comes to the fore, and the use of celluloid rather than shooting straight to digital adds to the grindhouse feel, plus the obvious care and attention paid to the sound design pays off and makes the film look like a much bigger budget affair.

However, there are some points where it resorts to cliché; mobile phone reception is conveniently lost just when it would be needed, and the final girl running for her life in her undies, which is also seen in the opening sequence before we get to a 'two days earlier' scenario. The final cast listing in the 'you have been watching' style of the UK sitcom takes a little away from the devastating climax, but on the whole it is an assured, and entertaining début for Smith.

Extras: commentary, behind the scenes/visual FX featurettes, trailer.

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