Film

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2016: 'Let Her Out'

Alanna LeVierge in Let Her Out (2016)

There are moments that peek out from the general blandness of this film, moments that display artistry and the potential for something greater.


Let Her Out

Director: Cody Calahan
Cast: Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, Adam Christie
MPAA Rating: unrated
Studio: Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment
Year: 2016
US Release Date: 2016-10-14
Website
Trailer

When a bike courier has a bad accident outside of the motel where her mother died, things get strange. All of a sudden, Helen’s (Alanna LeVierge) idyllic life of hanging out in hip lofts with her actress roommate, Molly (Nina Kiri), becomes tinged with the presence of some kind of evil force that seems to follow her everywhere.

Watching Cody Calahan’s film, I couldn’t help but think of It Follows (2014). To be sure, the '80s throwback trend is nothing new anymore, and the story itself doesn’t call to mind David Robert Mitchell’s modern classic, but there’s a pervading feeling that you’ve seen this all before. The problem isn’t even that it’s derivative, but that it doesn’t pull it off.

The success of the genre depends on being convinced of the world it creates, and Let Her Out doesn’t really do that. The stilted acting and inconsistent writing make the film feel like one of the myriad Eurotrash films that came out in the '80s, capitalizing on current trends by giving the impression of English Horror authenticity despite their Italian, German, or French creators and actors.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact Let Her Out has an eerie atmosphere despite its narrative shortcomings. The opening scene, nonsensical as it is, is pretty captivating. Much of this is due to the excellent photography, which is framed and shot with razor-sharp precision.

Even the editing is satisfying, as with a moment in the film when Helen, after being confronted in an alleyway, looks down an adjoining alley to a door. It’s a simple sequence, but it’s visually arresting despite the reservations one might have with the rest of the film.

As far as generating actual fear goes, however, Let Her Out doesn't deliver. For the most part, scares derive less from the combination of tense narrative with visual accompaniment then they do from sudden noises and gory visuals. The bar for horror has been raised in recent years by films like The Babadook (2014), which pairs unsettling and relatable narratives with calculated and unique visuals. So for Let Her Out to rely on cheap thrills is a bit disappointing, considering the quality of its competition.

There are moments that peek out from the general blandness and display artistry and the potential for something greater -- here I think of the scene where a man is killed in a subway station, or the opening shot, or the slow build to uncover a dead lover. There's mystery too, as when Helen awakes to find her feet bleeding from broken glass. Generally, it seems as if the film has the potential to be good, but it got diverted along the way and decided to take the shortcut.

For all that, however, it feels wrong to hate the film too much. It’s clearly trying to be entertaining and for the most part, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The cinematography carries its running time, and the gore and special effects are pretty good. It’s just a shame that there isn’t more to the film to keep it buoyant. It doesn’t leave much of an impression after you’ve left.

3

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image