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Two Horror Movies from eOne Films

Don't Let Him In (December 30/11)

Don't Let Him In follows Paige (Sophie Linfield) and Calvin (Rhys Meredith) as they invite his sister (Gemma Harvey's Mandy) and her latest sexual conquest (Gordon Alexander's Tristan) for a weekend jaunt at a cabin in the woods, with the foursome's vacation inevitably taking an ominous turn after a mysterious stranger (Sam Hazeldine's Shawn) shows up at their doorstep sporting a bloody injury. It's clear right from the outset that director and cowriter Kelly Smith isn't looking to reinvent the wheel here, as Don't Let Him In's unapologetically hoary setup has been augmented with a whole host of horror-specific elements (eg the protagonists are warned that "something's gone wrong with these woods" by an off-kilter local). There is, as such, little doubt that one's inherent tolerance for films of this ilk initially plays a major role in Don't Let Him In's success or failure, and it's worth noting that the movie manages to sustain its watchable atmosphere right up until around the halfway mark - after which point Smith and cowriter Chris Andrews place a lamentable emphasis on the in-fighting that naturally ensues among the surviving characters. The progressive tedium of such moments is exacerbated by the film's unreasonably deliberate pace, with the increasingly predictable nature of Smith and Andrews' screenplay draining the proceedings of its suspense and confirming Don't Let Him In's place as a periodically passable yet wholeheartedly underwhelming slasher. (And this is to say nothing of the needless in media res opening that bizarrely reveals the identity of the final survivor among the four central characters.)

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Shark Night (December 30/11)

Though it opens with a fair amount of promise, Shark Night inevitably devolves into a bottom-of-the-barrel thriller that's rarely as much fun as one might've expected (and hoped) - with the puzzling addition of human villains cementing the movie's place as an utterly misguided piece of work. The story follows a group of friends as they embark on a weekend of partying at a remote lake house, with trouble ensuing as it becomes increasingly clear that the isolated island is being circled by bloodthirsty sharks. There's little doubt that Shark Night fares best in its early stages, as filmmaker David R. Ellis, working from Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg's script, gleefully embraces the various conventions and clichés associated with movies of this ilk - with the incorporation of such elements into the narrative only heightening the film's palpably tongue-in-cheek vibe (eg the friends run afoul of creepy locals en route to the house). It's not long before Shark Night begins to demonstrably run out of steam, however, with the movie's curious lack of gore standing as the tip of the iceberg in terms of its growing list of problems (eg the lulls between shark attacks become more and more difficult to stomach as time progresses). The end result is a horror effort that never becomes the guilty pleasure it clearly wants to be, which is a shame, certainly, given Ellis' strong track record with such likeminded movies as Final Destination 2, Snakes on a Plane, etc, etc.

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About the DVDs: Both films arrive on DVD courtesy of eOne Films, armed with sharp transfers and a smattering of bonus features.
© David Nusair