Let Us In is a family-friendly horror/sci-fi movie that follows a spirited young girl, Emily (Makenzie Moss), and her friend Christopher (O'Neill Monahan), who team up to investigate the reason behind a mysterious number of disappearances in their neighborhood. We had the opportunity to interview Craig Moss — the co-writer/director of Let Us In for the movie's official release for VOD and Digital on July 2, 2021 (Samuel Goldwyn Films).
What was the inspiration for Let Us In and how was collaborating with Screenwriter Joe Callero on the screenplay?
Joe and I knew that we wanted to do a film in the sci-fi/horror/thriller genre, so we actively searched for any form of inspiration and discovered various creepy urban legends, the Black Eyed Kids being the scariest one. We also knew we wanted to appeal to the middle school demographic after having a long discussion about there being a huge void in the marketplace. So then Joe and I set out to write the screenplay, a wonderful process where we were both thrilled with the final product.
Fans of horror will most likely immediately recognize Tobin Bell, who starred in the Saw franchise. What was the casting process like Let Us In?
We had the amazingly talented Mary Jo Slater as our casting director who was able to bring in some incredible actors for both the teen and adult cast. My daughter Makenzie was very instrumental in giving us great insight into the younger talent. As far as Tobin, we knew he’d be perfect for Mr. Munch it was just a matter of him responding to the screenplay and also being available, which we were lucky enough to be able to check both those boxes.
Let Us In is a very family-friendly horror/science fiction movie. How did you approach the directing process, and what considerations did you make due to the genres?
The intention was never to go down the path of guts and gore, but instead to make it scary and creepy using subtle action, good use of the camera, and a great score. In addition, we leave a lot to the imagination which can make things scarier without hitting anyone over the head. Knowing who our audience is we wanted to creep them out but in a way where this film would be a gateway movie for kids to get their feet wet with the genre. The hope is for them to love the genre and move on to darker movies as they get older.
What was it like collaborating with Cinematographer Rudy Harbon for the final aesthetic of Let Us In?
I’ve worked with Rudy on a number of films in the past and we have a terrific shorthand when it comes to shooting. We obviously had a small budget on the film which only allowed us minimal days to shoot, so Rudy and I made sure to be incredibly prepped before day one.
Which scenes from Let Us In are your favorite - from shooting and the final edit?
I really enjoyed shooting all the scenes at the lake/woods. It was such a great location and I could feel the movie coming to life with any scene we shot there. Not to mention I love the fact that “The Andy Griffith Show” shot their opening credit sequence at that location. As far as my favorite scenes to watch I really enjoy the scene with Emily, Christopher, and Mr. Munch in Munch’s house as well as the scene in the coffee shop/bakery with Jessie. Sadie Stanley plays Jessie and did such a brilliant job throughout the film but in this scene, there’s a lot of physical and emotional demand required and she nails it.
What role did VFX play in the making of Let Us In?
It played a huge role. I think we had close to 150 VFX shots which for a small film like ours is insane. I guess that’s what happens when you’re dealing with the sci-fi genre with lots of technology and social media.
How long did production last? Where was the movie filmed?
Production lasted fourteen days as we shot just outside of Los Angeles in places like Altadena, City of Orange, Hollywood, Santa Clarita, and Franklin Canyon. Lots of locations which didn’t make things any easier but we got the production value and were able to tell the story we wanted.
Which films/directors have influenced you as a filmmaker, including Let Us In?
I’m going to list some names that every filmmaker and their mother always lists, but it’s the absolute truth as these were the filmmakers who released films that inspired me to direct. They include Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, The Coen Brothers, David Fincher.
Which themes and subject matters interest you as a filmmaker?
The counted-out and forgotten underdog who unselfishly sets out to save the day.