One would struggle to find a baptism by fire-like introduction to the world of feature films, and to horror that is hotter than Alanna LeVierge’s debut performance in body horror shocker Let Her Out. LeVierge’s Helen may start the movie a pretty, well-adjusted young woman but she ends it in a worse state than almost every blood-drenched lady who has come before her, from Carrie‘s titular Prom Queen to The Descent‘s ass-kicker, Sarah.
The flick, from director Cody Calahan (Antisocial 1 and 2), based on a script by he and actor-turned-writer Adam Seybold, concerns, ostensibly, the breakdown of Helen’s mental well-being as she develops a brain tumour or a split personality or maybe some combination of both. As we learn in the dark, bizarre prologue, Helen’s mother was a prostitute who, one night, got raped by a demon. Helen was the result.
Calahan’s female-driven picture looks as though it was shot in Germany (though it’s set in Seattle) and at times it has that same, weirdly superficial sheen that Friend Request had in place of any real artistic direction. Luckily, Let Her Out doesn’t even deserve to be in the same sentence as that movie. In spite of its cheesiness, some clunky dialogue and odd character motivations (Helen’s friend turns on her for no discernible reason), this is solid genre fare.
The physical manifestations of Helen’s condition are presented stylishly, but her split personality/brain tumour is a refreshingly realistic take on a genre staple. A gnarly transformation sequence must be seen to be believed, while a sex scene is lit like it’s torture cinema (rightfully so, given the circumstances). And it’s never quite clear what’s happening to her, even when she goes a bit Enchantress – albeit without the code word or weird bikini thing.
Anchoring the whole thing is LeVierge’s barnstorming central performance. It’s a star-maker if ever there was one. She carries the story in what essentially becomes a dual role, taking to it with aplomb. It’s an incredibly physical, demanding job but LeVierge devours it, marking her out as one to watch in future. She’s ably supported by Nina Kiri as her well-meaning friend, but this is LeVierge showcase and she shines.
Let Her Out boasts a lot of blues and pink hues throughout, giving the impression that it was perhaps meant as some sort of throwback, but the ideas contained therein are resolutely modern, its poster recalling Drive more than anything released thirty years ago. It’s a major step up for Calahan after his previous two, messier genre entries, and spells good things to come.
Overall, though, this is just a bloody good time–in every sense of the word. It’s an intoxicating, gory and hugely involving exercise in body horror and female empowerment that could reasonably stand alongside the likes of Carrie. Helen is a formidable, nuanced Final Girl and LeVierge is a Scream Queen in training. And both will indelibly make their mark on audiences accordingly, in the guise of this killer flick.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Cody Calahan
Writer(s): Cody Calahan, Adam Seybold
Stars: Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, Adam Christie, Kate Fenton
Studio/ Production Co: Black Fawn Films
Length: 89 minutes