To say less is more is an understatement of epic proportions in Conor McMahon’s latest, Let the Wrong One In.
The FrightFest strand of Glasgow Film Festival each year is always buzzing with excitement. It’s very much its own character with a distinct feeling to each screening that is totally different to the rest of the festival in general.
So it comes as no surprise that Let the Wrong One In opened the FrightFest as it seemed to hit the right notes for the crowd.
But sadly it very much feels like just a festival film.
The setting is Dublin where we follow Matt (Karl Rice) a supermarket worker confronted by his estranged brother, Deco (Eoin Duffy), who isn’t quite himself. Suffering from far more than just a hangover his new fangs and bloodlust are evidence of his recent nightclub encounter with a vampire. With it comes the revelation the city is a hotspot for vampires but also home to Henry (Anthony Head) seeking them out one-by-one.
The influence of classic horror is clear as is the likes of Shaun of the Dead. This comedy horror, however, comes nowhere close to either.
It does, though, provide laughs from the very beginning with its slapstick. You very much have the typical set-up of Karl Rice playing the straight-man to Eoin Duffy’s shenanigans and one-liners. This duo bounce off each other well and that keeps the comedy element of the film alive.
Yes, it is all a bit silly and even ridiculous but you do stick with it.
Anthony Head as the taxi-driver/vampire hunter, Henry, certainly finds his comedic stride and more than holds his own. Essentially he is unofficially reprising his role of Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which incidentally just had its 25th anniversary, and is a treat for fans.
And make no mistake about it the film very much leans into this with a training montage to boot.
It follows all the usual tropes of the vampire genre and doesn’t try anything particularly new. Though the revelation that vampires dislike of garlic extends to garlic mayo is quite funny.
You can’t help but feel with Let the Wrong One In that if it reigned it in on that front it would have been better for it.
The same can be said for the “horror” itself, it is simply horror by name only. The more we see of blood spraying from victims and it lathering everyone in the surrounding area, the more it loses its impact. It is all very much over the top and even if that’s the intention it backfires.
What is interesting from Conor McMahon, who writes and directs, is the family dynamic to it all.
It shows that even amongst the carnage of all the blood and jokes, McMahon is able to create and develop character relationships that have some meaning. This is very much where the film does have success and more it would have been welcomed.
As for its ending, it jumped the shark and then some.
It is overall disappointing but the film itself is an experience and there are some promising signs for McMahon who seems to have an eye for comedy and characters.