GORE IN THE STORE
LET THE WRONG ONE IN ***
Directed by Conor McMahon.
Starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, Anthony Head, Mary Murray.
Horror comedy, Ireland, 96 minutes.
Reviewed as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2022.
Starting off with the familiar image of a Transylvanian castle set against a dark sky streaked with lightning before panning down to a raucous Irish hen do scored to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out, LET THE WRONG ONE IN sets out its clash of vampire cliches against irreverent Irish humour right from the off. With a title that trades on one of the certifiable classics of modern horror cinema it may sound like it has a lot in common with the woeful spoofs of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (VAMPIRES SUCK, THE STARVING GAMES) that plagued cinema screens a decade ago. Thankfully Conor McMahon’s directorial debut is sharper than that and forgoes the easy and obvious spoof targets, instead celebrating the genre alongside its odd couple pairing struggling with an outbreak of vampirism in Dublin.
When sensible Matt finds himself covering for his drug addict brother Deco against his mother’s wishes he soon discovers that his big brother may have a valid excuse for his usual wasted behaviour. Skin burning up in direct sunlight, a more than allergic reaction to garlic mayo on his chips and perhaps most obviously the two big holes in his neck all seem to point to the fact that the woman he met in the club toilets the night before was most definitely a vampire. Adding to their woes is vampire hunter and avid trainspotter Henry who is not only just hellbent on exterminating Deco but tracking down his attacker who he has history with.
Writer and director Conor McMahon manages to get good mileage from his small-scale premise, budget, and location. In setting a vampire film in a non-descript suburban house in the middle of the day he must prove his storytelling chops and for the most part he does. Slapstick gags sit alongside sharp dialogue that delights in making affectionate fun of the genre. He is aided in no small part by his cast. Leading man Karl Rice gets a good share of witty dialogue, but Eoin Duffy steals the entire film with his portrayal of a heavily accented Dublin junkie more concerned with hiding what he’s been up to from his girlfriend than the fact that he has become a blood drinking member of the living dead. Anthony Head also gets another spin at staking vampires with his character who is easily distracted by the nearby rail line and the variety of carriages travelling along it.
Interesting wrinkles pop up regularly along the way ensuring that the film avoids being repetitive and McMahon’s love for the genre shines through, especially in a couple of gory and gloopy death scenes that recall the young Sam Raimi in his DIY low budget days. It may run out of steam by the end and tip into treacly sentimentality on its way there but there is enough wit and inventiveness that it makes for a pleasant evening viewing, especially for fans of the similarly themed WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS film and television series.