Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Let Her Out Review

(By: Sherry Li)

I don’t think I left the edge of my seat the entire movie. Nor did my heart ever get a chance to slow down. Let Her Out was disturbing, creepy, and thrilling the entire way through.

It followed Helen, a young twenty-something Toronto woman whose mother killed herself in a dingy motel while pregnant with her. After a car accident, Helen began to experience hallucinations, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there, and blacking out, losing hours at a time. Helen then discovers the truth – she had a “vanishing twin” – a sibling that was absorbed in the womb, whose remains were currently still inside of her head, and was somehow, starting to come out.

With a premise like that, it would not be hard to see why this movie might be terrifying. However, it is not just the plot and the writing that made it so unnerving, Let Her Out manages to take advantage of its scenes in dark and grisly settings and is unafraid to indulge in graphic content. From sexual content, including one scene that was artistic and superbly edited, to blood splattered everywhere, it was not afraid to push how sinister it was.

The film built on its momentum incredibly well, there was rarely, if any, moment where it lost tension. It didn’t slow down, and even in the beginning, before the catalyst car accident even happens; there was a sense of unease ingrained in the atmosphere.  It most notably gains this through the outstanding soundtrack and score, which turned even the most seemingly mundane scenes into something that had me wanting to cover my eyes. The flashbacks and clues that begin to unravel in the film was enthralling as well. It was a good touch to have the audience experience Helen’s perspective instead of being omnipresent.

Yet, there were moments in this movie where I felt like the characters lacked common sense and acted illogically just to propel the plot forward. It was a little ridiculous, especially as the movie veered towards the ending. Most horror movies will have this trope, but up until then, the movie had done a pretty good job of avoiding them.

Nevertheless, the director, Cody Calahan, managed to successfully transform Toronto’s familiar landscapes into a beautifully dark and creepy world that somehow still feels exactly like Toronto. The film is unapologetically Canadian – filmed in Toronto and Niagara Falls, and boasted Toronto’s skyline and streets in many scenes and shots, along with a largely Canadian cast and crew. Calahan himself is from Kingston, Ontario, and Alanna LeVierge, who plays Helen, is from outside Vancouver, British Columbia.

LeVierge did a terrific job as Helen, she managed to convey both the wide-eyed and innocent Helen headed into a psychological breakdown, and the other more nefarious and violent version of herself. Nina Kiri, who plays Helen’s roommate and childhood friend Molly, was also great in her role. Kiri finally managed to show off the full extent of her capabilities as the movie moved towards the end.

However, in the final act, there were scenes that were too lengthy, and despite the fact that the special effects and makeup were incredible, it really could have used some reworking. There were a few moments that could have been completely cut or shortened that would have helped to tighten the film up.

Overall, despite its ending, Let Her Out was extremely intense. It played with its premise and it worked quite well in a horror that explored the eventual downfall of a young woman. It wasn’t against leaving characters soaked in blood and the audience cringing. Calahan’s film was unforgettably nerve wracking and fantastic at creating a tense and ominous atmosphere that rarely gives anyone a chance to breathe.

Director: Cody Calahan

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