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Psych-thriller ‘Let Her Out’ shows that it’s what’s in our heads that’s truly frightening

Wednesday 14th, September 2016 / 11:31
By Amber McLinden

CALGARY — What do an evil twin, murder, prostitution, beating up men, and the power of friendship all have in common? Let Her Out brings all these elements into one horrifying film as part of the Calgary International Film Festival’s Late Show series.

The best type of horror movie is one that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. Let Her Out manages to do just that, while still providing all the elements that you’ve come to expect from horror. Bringing psychological thriller and gore together into one plot allows for it to push the boundaries of what is expected while still keeping you grounded in reality.

“I’m infatuated with horror because of the extreme emotions that you can get out of it,” director Cody Calahan says. “You’re playing within reality because you want to suck your audience in but you can kind of reel them in and then completely break that reality and go somewhere completely terrifying or even absurd and still be able to sort of drag the audience along with you.”

The main character, Helen, struggles with her mother’s past and her own life in isolation. After experiencing blackouts, she consults a doctor who tells her she has a growth in her brain. She begins descending into a series of psychotic episodes that threaten to ruin her life. “Vanishing Twin Syndrome” is at the base of this film, and it’s downright terrifying.

Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs when “a twin or multiple disappears in the uterus during pregnancy as a result of a miscarriage.” The fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin or the mother, which gives the appearance of a vanishing twin. The result of such has a psychological effect on Helen, and in this case, the viewer of the movie.

Let Her Out

Let Her Out

Let Her Out does many things to an audience. A horror film that excellently pulls on different genres, you are left questioning the existence of the entire 87 minutes you sat watching it. “Unstable anxiety” is the realm this film exists in, Calahan explains.

Shocking its viewers is certainly one of the main goals of the film, and it wastes no time in doing so, using the opening scene to establish the shock value you can expect throughout the entire show. Working with award-winning cinematographer Jeff Maher, a feeling of instability and constant movement is created that translated from shooting to onset, Calahan says.

“We wanted it to continuously move,” he continues, “so the camera is almost constantly moving, even if it’s in a room it’s still all handheld. The way we wanted it to feel really bled into real life.”

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate displeasure of being stuck with your own thoughts, you’ll be able to relate to the main character, Helen. A small presence in a big city, her development is drastic to say the least. Calahan intended this, and purposely excluded relationships from her to accentuate her disconnect with the outside world.

Perhaps the most terrifying moments in the film are grounded in reality. Through a series of events, Helen comes to lose control of her own mind and tries to understand what happened during periods of time she can’t remember. Calahan adds: “The two things that battle a person are the brain and the heart. We wanted to make a movie where we could kind of hold back a little bit of the heart and make it a more cerebral movie.”

Let Her Out screens as part of the Calgary International Film Festival Sept. 24 (licensed screening) and Sept. 28 at the Globe Cinema.

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