Don't Let Her In Part Two Slips Into Mediocrity

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Don't Let Her In

PREVIOUSLY, ON THE FIRST EPISODE OF DON’T LET HER IN:

Perky blonde twenty-something artist Amber (Kelly Curran) and her rock-band boyfriend Ben (Cole Pendery) have the call for a roommate answered by Serena (Lorin Doctor), a sultry, doe-eyed, black-clad “New-Age nerd girl” who keeps a collection of odd crystals and a grotesque stone idol and indulges in witching-hour chants and who quickly succeeds in seducing Ben one evening while Amber sleeps beside them. Once Ben’s band suddenly scores a month-long touring gig and Amber is left alone with an ever-more-domineering Serena, it’s revealed the new lodger’s humanity may only be a mask for something far more diabolical…

At the onset of the second installment of Full Moon Features’ Don’t Let Her In, TerrorVision and Subspecies director Ted Nicolaou picks up right where he left off with Episode One: following their girl-on-girl tryst, Serena’s devilish mind games escalate to the point that she’s causing Amber to hallucinate and question her own sanity. Upon discovering she’s mysteriously pregnant despite being on birth control, Amber’s fragile mental state is exacerbated by both the sudden appearance of inexplicable bodily pains and the increasingly evil rituals Serena performs--but are the otherworldly occurrences real or merely symptomatic of Amber’s advanced anxiety disorder? Ben insists Serena is just “Gothed-out” and harmless, but the deep-voiced, dire warnings of enigmatic stranger Elias (Austin James Parker) insinuate Serena is demonically possessed and leave Amber on the verge of a nervous breakdown as she prepares for paranormal battle. Once Serena arrives and the showdown commences, what will be the fate of Amber and her unborn child?

This closing installment shares many of the weaknesses of its predecessor, particularly the fact that any storytelling velocity has atrophied under the decision to segregate what was clearly intended as a single film into two short, unsatisfying segments. Full Moon’s pre-release promotional hype dubbed Don’t Let Her In an heir apparent to such unholy silver screen gems as Rosemary’s Baby, but the clawing, claustrophobic dread so palpable in that Polanski-helmed classic are noticeably absent in this pallid imitation, and any tension found in the climactic confrontation is seemingly stumbled upon through fluke chance. Nothing in the final act rises above the level of a made-for-TV movie, and a viewer could randomly cull a baker’s dozen of episodes from such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and even Sabrina, the Teenage Witch that display more intensity, emotion and dramatic demonic flair.

That’s not to say there’s a complete lack of merit--Nicolaou’s directing is brisk, the shadow-draped cinematography eye-pleasing and the small cast dazzles; Curran and Doctor elevate their roles high above the mediocre material, and particular praise must be bestowed upon antagonist Serena, who, aided by Doctor’s magnetic on-screen black magic becomes a potent, alluring villainess, setting every scene ablaze with commanding, sensual vigor. Yet even her exuberant satanic antics do little to dispel the clichéd script and lackluster excuse for a twist finale. What’s needed is a follow-through on the promise of the initial set-up, a more urgent, dangerous and prolonged climax; Don’t Let Her In strives to be a Rembrandt, but instead comes off as a half-finished scare-by-numbers finger painting that, given Full Moon’s penchant for inflicting inane franchises upon undiscerning cinephiles (the Gingerdead Man series, anyone?), seems more than likely to spawn a sequel (or two or three or six) to continue what could have been competently handled in a solitary outing.

After all is said and done, the infernal intrigues are too weak to ever sit comfortably on a shelf with malevolent masterpieces like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist or The Omen; there’s simply not enough meat for a hardy cinematic meal, even if both episodes are viewed (as they should be) back-to-back. However, if one finds themselves with a spare seventy or so minutes to kill and a hankering for some high-calorie, low-nutrient horror junk food, go ahead and let her in. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.  

I give Don’t Let Her In Episode Two a sub-par 2 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale.

Grade: 
2.0 / 5.0