Aoife Fealy sinks her teeth into Let The Wrong One In, which screened at VMDIFF.
From the same mind that brought us Stitches (2012), Let The Wrong One In is the latest horror-comedy offering from seasoned filmmaker Conor McMahon. Starring Eoin Duffy (Deadly Cuts, Game of Thrones), newcomer Karl Rice and the legendary (in the realm of vampire lore) Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), this film is a joy of practical effects and Irish humour.
The narrative centres around the brotherly relationship between Matt (Rice), a young shop worker living with their Ma (Hilda Fay) helping ends meet, and Deco (Duffy), the older drug addict who was kicked out of the home in the past, who now happens to be turning into a vampire after being assaulted in a club bathroom the night before.
The film opens with a hen party in the old town of Transylvania, where a rowdy group of Irish women escape from a pub bouncer with pints in hand yet ultimately do not return home to Dublin unscathed. Their return triggers a domino effect of vampire infestation in the local area, with Sheila (Mary Murray) the head undead (and aforementioned hen) hell-bent on creating her own coven under the guise of the opening of a new nightclub. With the help of amateur vampire-slayer Henry (Head), Sheila’s would-be fiancé, Matt and Deco set out to take down Dublin’s new pest problem.
Though this film does touch on some social issues prevalent in Irish urban society today, particularly those related to addiction and working-class family dynamics, the real win of the production is the use of practical filmmaking effects in creating some hilariously gorey and often slapstick comedic moments. Harking back to practical horror-masters Romero, Savini and possibly even peak-Wes Craven (here’s lookin’ at you Elm Street), McMahon’s effects team were able to create some very clever and fundamentally funny sequences, incorporating both gore and stunts, culminating in the schlocky-horror style which makes this particular hybrid genre so entertaining. Irish cinema has become somewhat of a forerunner for horror in recent years, both in the traditional and comedy-hybrid arenas, with additions such as Grabbers (2012) and Extra Ordinary (2019) contributing to the rise of popular gore-comedies triggered by Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004).
The relationship between young Rice and Duffy as somewhat estranged brothers is played quite well by both actors, particularly when the dynamic becomes strained due to Deco’s resurging addict behaviour and the audience begins to understand why their relationship is so taut in the first place. Though the familial tensions are confronted, Deco’s behaviour is portrayed more as a selfish choice than a struggle with an illness and, though everyone’s experience with addiction is different, I feel the film failed to address any social or cultural root of a problem that is so often depicted in Irish cinema, yet is very rarely explored. Nonetheless, we still get a few poignant moments in an otherwise ridiculous portrayal of unbridled destruction and mayhem.
All-in-all, Let The Wrong One In is a playful nod-and-wink to the classics of the genre resulting in an entertaining romp of ridiculous gore, Irish jokes and practical effects.
Let The Wrong One In screened on 26th February 2022 at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.