LET HER OUT (2016)
Directed by Cody Calahan
Written by Cody Calahan & Adam Seybold
Starring Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, Adam Christie, Kate Fenton, Michael Lipka, Brooke Henderson, Glen Reid, Deborah Jayne Reilly Smith, Kyle Hytonen, Paul McGinnis, Eric Picard
Find out more about this film here, @letherout, and on Facebook here
This “Jekyll & Hyde” / possession / evil twin film is sleek and sexy, with a heavy dose of sleaze. LET HER OUT is a scary, grimy, and heartbreaking metaphor for alcoholism, drugs, and mental illness with a slightly supernatural angle, but heavy on character. It’s simply an excellent, and jarring horror film.
LET HER OUT begins with a scene of a prostitute doing her thing with multiple different johns in a seedy hotel room. It’s not a sexy scene and highlights the distance the woman goes outside of herself in order to get through the demeaning work that she does. After wrapping up for the night, a mysterious john comes into the room and has his way with her roughly. This is a horrifying scene where the prostitute is not a million miles away, but aware of herself and her predicament that she may not survive as seen by the pained and horrified look on her face. Cut to the prostitute later who is pregnant in the same room and takes a knife to her belly in an attempt to kill herself and her child. After the pro is found, she is rushed to the hospital and we are rushed 23 years later in the narrative following Helen (Alanna LeVierge), who we come to know is the daughter of the prostitute and a bicycle messenger, living with her actress step-sister Molly (Nina Kiri) , and trying to find a place for herself in this world. After being hit by a car on her bike, Helen begins experiencing blackouts and after an MRI is taken, she finds out that inside her head is what looks like a tumor, but in actuality is a twin that was consumed by Helen in the womb. Of course, this place goes into some dark and seedy places as it seems the tumor is growing in both power and conscience, causing havoc and absolute horror in Helen’s life.
Metaphorically, this is a rich one as one can read a lot into LET HER OUT—from statements on sexual repression vs. freedom to comments on drugs and mental illness to the current health care crisis. Helen presents herself as not really knowing what she wants sexually when we first encounter her as she comes on to an artist who admires her, then stops he makes the moves on her. Later she struggles when her twin begins to emerge as the twin seems to be much more sexually free-spirited and downright perverse when she takes over Helen’s body. When Helen is back again in control, she only remembers snippets of what has happened and is horrified by it. With all supernatural evil twin stuff aside, Helen is suffering from terrifying blackouts and mental breaks and this as well is handled deftly as Helen deals with trying to wait for her operation date to have the tumor removed, but this deadline only makes the evil twin work harder and harder to take control. On top of that, Helen self medicates with alcohol and pills, trying to suppress her inner demon and bind herself to her own bed with ropes in order to keep this uncontrollable other self from getting free. And as if the metaphorical well wasn’t full enough, LET HER OUT adds to the growing health care system commentary in horror as Helen, instead of going to the hospital, chooses to treat herself and use rudimentary ways to take care of her inner demon—again this seems to be somewhat of a commentary on this generation’s mistrust in health care and the popular choice to ignore the obvious dramatic medical emergency by using over the counter meds and age old remedies over up to date medical treatments.
Allegorical dissections aside, LET HER OUT is both a gory body horror film as Helen is taken apart literally piece by piece by the end of the film and a terrifying film to boot with some scenes with such perfectly timed scares that put the modern theatrical releases to shame. Director Cody Calahan & and his co-writer Adam Seybold know their scary and do a fantastic job at delivering an authentic and original terror trip. Add in a rollercoaster of a performance by the lead Alanna LeVierge as Helen and strong supporting performance as Helen’s step-sister Molly Nina Kiri (though Kiri and LeVierge look a little bit too much alike and cause a bit of confusion throughout the film), and you’ve got a can’t miss body horror shocker of the highest order in LET HER OUT.
Special note: I don’t like to brag about stuff I get from production companies—mainly because I usually don’t get them at all and even if I do get a comp copy of something in the mail, I don’t let it sway whether I like the film or not (as I hope you can see in my reviews). But even if LET HER OUT was a bad film (which it most definitely is not), I would have heaped praise on Black Fawn Films and Breakthrough Entertainment PR Department for the original and twisted way they sent me this movie.
Not too long ago, I get an unmarked package in the mail. Inside, wrapped in bubble wrap, is a severed forearm in a plaster cast (much like the cast Helen wears in the film). On the forearm is a massage that says LET HER OUT and then has instructions to cut along the interior of the cast. When I did that, embedded inside the skin under the cast was a thumb drive with the movie in it. Dammit if that wasn’t one of the coolest things I’ve ever received (check out the pics to prove it)! The arm is so freaking creepy. It has real weight to it. The fingers have fingernails. And it looks like I got a freaking severed arm in the mail! This is by no means gloating over gifts from a film, but rather, it was just something that was so cool, I couldn’t help but share. Hope you understand.
Nevertheless, despite the morbidly awesome mode in which I received this film, I really loved LET HER OUT and will definitely let you all know when it will be released as it is one of the most intense and twisted little films I’ve seen in quite some time.