As babysitter Sarah (Rebecca Larken) chats over dinner with her young charge Jack (Will Garrett Davis), viewers of the short film Don’t Let the Light In get a sense from the get-go that things aren’t right with this gig: She was hired by text messaging and supposedly his parents left just before she arrived. When the noises from upstairs start, a seemingly unconcerned Jack brushes it off as “probably the monsters.” We all know how words of that type go over with most adults.
Director/writer Jaysen P. Buterin has fashioned a fun piece of fright fare that reminds me, in the best ways possible, of television horror anthology shows of the past. It isn’t easy to come up with new ideas using the time-honored and well-worn tropes of the babysitter-horror subgenre and monsters in the closet and under the bed, but Buterin has successfully combined these elements into a creepy story that offers a delightful twist.
Rebecca Larken gives a solid turn as a babysitter who goes from suspicious to buddy-buddy to exasperated to – well, that would be telling. Will Garrett Davis gives a convincing performance as a young boy who is frustrated that no one ever believes his stories about monsters living in his bedroom. Both actors are especially crackerjack at Don’t Let the Light In’s climax.
I don’t want to spoil things about what exactly goes on in Jack’s bedroom, but this being a horror film, you can safely assume that something does, and the practical visual and special effects on display by Mickey Cordes (who also edited the short along with Justin Reich and Brett Mullen) and Joh Harp, respectively, are a blast to behold. Ron Wasserman’s score is effectively eerie and punctuates the proceedings admirably. Jaysen P. Buterin does a first-rate job of creating an atmosphere of apprehension and steadily building the tension, and cinematographer Brett Mullen compliments Buterin’s vision wonderfully.
Mad Ones Films’ (www.madonesfilms.com) Don’t Let the Light In is starting to make the festival rounds and I highly advise keeping an eye on listings to see if it comes your way. It’s thoroughly entertaining and offers some cool surprises.
Don’t Let the Light In: (4 / 5)