Award winning independent filmmaker Jaysen Buterin makes his cinematic return with Don’t Let the Light In, the latest from North Carolina-based Mad Ones Films.
Following considerable cult success with his grindhouse-style short film trilogy The Gospel According to Booze, Bullets, and Hot Pink Jesus, and critical acclaim with the monochrome art house horror masterpiece Between Hell and a Hard Place, does this latest effort measure up to its predecessors? Read on to find out for yourselves!
Don’t Let the Light In tells the story of Sarah (Rebecca Larken of Doctor Who: The Ginger Chronicles) a twenty-something woman who has taken a seemingly typical babysitting job watching a young boy named Jack (Will Garrett Davis in his breakout role). Sarah is an easygoing babysitter, who doesn’t seem to stress much over the strict rules put in place by Jack’s parents. When it’s time for bed, Jack seems hesitant to go to sleep, telling Sarah of monsters that live under his bed, yet insistent of Sarah not letting any light into his bedroom. Sarah initally writes this off as a child’s imagination, but as the night progresses, and strange things start to take place, Sarah begins to wonder if it’s all just make believe, or if there’s actually something to all of this. What’s really going on in this big house at night? Are there actually monsters afoot? Or is it something far, far worse? You’ll just have to watch and find out!
Possibly the most impressive thing about this film is the overall atmosphere it presents. The top notch cinematography from director of photography Brett Mullen combined with the original score from composer Ron Wasserman and the incredible location of a colonial-style large house set in modern time really set the stage for something sinister going on behind the curtain, yet the presentation is so subtle that it never once comes across as cheesy, or quite frankly that “indie” looking that a lot of low-budget films often struggle with. While Davis does an excellent and very convincing job in his role as young Jack, unfortunately Larken‘s acting does seem a bit forced at times, although a lot of that can be overlooked as missteps in dialouge not exactly meshing with the natural personality of the actress. Mind you, it is far better than most independent films, and is not a consistent problem throughout, but this little issue absolutely shows during certain critical scenes. Luckily, this one issue is far outshined by the overall presentation of the film, and viewers can easily still find themselves wrapped up in the story, particularly given the short runtime of just under ten minutes.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Don’t Let the Light In is an outstanding display of existential and atmospheric horror that lures you right in and slams the door behind you. Buterin has clearly found his calling in more traditional horror, and shows a firm grasp on the fine line between fiction and believability, never once going too far overboard without underselling anything. While not quite as good as Between Hell and a Hard Place, this is a definite giant step up in quality over literally every other film Mad Ones Films have released over the years, and shows promise of many more great things to come from a filmmaker that has most certainly found his way in the cinematic wasteland. – 8.5/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine