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’Let the Wrong One In’ review: Dir. Conor McMahon [Fantastic Fest]

by Kat Hughes

Conor McMahon’s Let the Wrong One In doesn’t take long to set its comedy horror tone. Opening with a graphic pronouncing the location at Transylvania, accompanied by video of a horse drawn cart galloping down a cobbled street, the film quickly veers off the expected trajectory, exposing it’s modern day setting as it joins a bunch of rowdy women on a hen-do. The sudden jar from the traditional home of vampires to a boozy night out makes McMahon’s intentions clear immediately. Next we witness the loud and leary women as they race down the street guzzling beer, waving inflatable penises, before glimpsing the first of many vampire attacks. The action then teleports to Ireland where we meet newly-turned-vampire Deco (Eoin Duffy) who ventures to the house of his estranged brother Matty (Karl Rice) in search of help. Once in Ireland, McMahon turns his attention to the relationship between Matty and Deco as past troubles impact upon present problems. Add in a train enthusiast vampire slayer, an angry mother, and a villain intent on the vampire domination of Ireland, and you have a recipe for a lot of wacky fun. 

Wacky fun is exactly what Let the Wrong One In is, McMahon fully embraces the silly. Tonally, the comedy veers from sarcasm to slapstick, with a little comedy of errors and the odd smattering of crass gross-out humour thrown in for good measure. With so many comedic tastes catered for, there’s sure to be a little something to tickle the ribcage of all that invest their time. A lot of the humour rides on the delivery and commitment of its cast, and both Rice and Duffy give all they have. Their portrayal of Matt and Deco presents an oddly accurate look at how some broken families work. As much as Let the Wrong One In plays to the funnier side of things, there is still plenty of real drama to be discovered, and the bulk of that comes from this central relationship. Deco is a former addict and Matt is the younger brother who had to grow up watching his brother waste his life. Although off of the drugs, Deco is still a slacker, his new found status as a bloodthirsty vampire appears to finally be the wake-up call to get his life in order. Amidst all the projectile blood vomiting and fart jokes is a real warmth and tenderness to the brothers, and this emotional aspect acts as a crutch for the viewer to latch onto. 

The supporting cast are also game and unafraid to appear foolish on screen. It’s clear that everyone is having a ball and that feeling is infectious. The inclusion of Anthony Head is a genius one, Head having made his name to a generation for his role as Rupert Giles, Watcher to Buffy Summer’s vampire slayer. Casting him as the vampire slayer gives the film that extra little Easter egg that will help endear itself to fans of blood-sucking fiends.  

McMahon’s affinity and adoration for vampires is apparent throughout and the director has a ball playing around with established vampire lore. Let the Wrong One In keeps in line with a lot of traditional lore, but McMahon also isn’t afraid to deviate or poke fun at some aspects. His interpretation of the vampire offers plenty for fellow fans to enjoy without alienating them by veering too far from the beaten path. There are plenty of good ideas displayed within Let the Wrong One In, though it does eventually begin to buckle under the weight of them all. After remaining focused on the brothers for an extended amount of time, the villain of the piece suddenly reappears and the plot begins to go all over the place; the fracturing causes a slight disconnect with the core story. The result is a film with a strong chaotic energy, which somehow still manages to keep the viewer entertained, even if slightly befuddled. 

Super silly, but surprisingly clever, Conor McMahon’s latest cinematic venture tells a joyously entertaining tale of family and forgiveness with extra bite. It may not quite manage to grasp the hyperbole about doing for Irish vampires what Shaun of the Dead did for zombies, Let the Wrong One In does still have plenty to offer the discerning vampire lover.  

Let the Wrong One In

Kat Hughes

Let the Wrong One In


A silly and slightly crass humoured vampire romp whose heart is in the right place.


Let the Wrong One In was reviewed at Fantastic Fest. 

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