The black eyed kids are a paranormal phenomenon that have captured the imagination of terrified people around the country. The mere mention of their name elicits instant fear in the hearts of those who know the mythology behind this scary urban legend. Now, we get the first movie to deal with the supernatural creatures directly in the new horror thriller Let Us In. And if there is one person who can save us from the threat of the black eyed kids, it is horror legend Tobin Bell.
Tobin Bell stars in Let Us In as the creepy next-door neighbor everyone is afraid of, who may be harboring some deep, dark secrets the rest of the world is not quite ready for. We recently caught up with Tobin Bell to talk about his wicked turn as Frederick Munch in director Craig Moss’ intense thriller.
Let Us In follows a spirited twelve-year-old girl and her best friend, who start investigating the sudden disappearances of several missing teens in their small town. Realizing there might be something deeper happening, Emily and Christopher might be up against forces they can’t even imagine. And mean Mr. Munch may be the only one who can save the town.
Let Us In is based on the black eyed kid phenomenon. As Google tells us, “Black-eyed children are an American contemporary legend of paranormal creatures that resemble children between ages 6 and 16, with pale skin and black eyes, who are reportedly seen hitchhiking or begging, or are encountered on doorsteps of residential homes.” As the legend goes, Black Eyed Kids like to stand at the front door, asking to be let into the house. As long as they stay outside, you are safe. That is why you never invite them inside. No matter how aggressive they get with their moans of, “Let Us In”.
Let Us In is now available on Digital and On Demand. To celebrate the release, we chatted with Tobin Bell, who is perhaps best known as John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer in the the Saw franchise, to find out his own experiences with the black eyed kids and why he decided to involve himself in this spooky phenomenon.
You make some strong accusations against the black eyed kids in this movie. I’ve seen enough evidence to support that they could possibly be real. Do you ever worry that maybe they’re not going to like some of the things your character has to say in this movie?
Tobin Bell: What I say about them in the film? No, I’m too old to worry about that. I’m not worried about them. Hopefully, if this is successful with the younger generation…I think it’s going to be…That’s the least I have to worry about. Plus, I love the black eyed kids. I love the whole concept, that they come back every 10 years. They’re not looking for me anymore. They already took the love of my life. They took the love of Mr. Munch’s life. They’re interested in abducting an adolescent girl…Well I don’t want to give too much away. I don’t think Mr. munch is particularly worried about them. As you’ve watched…If you’ve watched the whole film…You’ll understand why.
Do you live in a secluded area?
Tobin Bell: You’re talking about Mr. Munch?
No. I’m talking about you. Because the real black eyed kids might show up at your door. You won’t be expecting them. And they could be upset at how they are represented in this movie.
Tobin Bell: No, no…I don’t live in a secluded area. I wouldn’t, frankly. I live really close to Times Square. And it doesn’t get less secluded than that.
I think you are safe. I don’t think the real black eyed kids are going to come hunt you down in Times Square.
Tobin Bell: Good, I’m glad to hear that. I’m reassured.
Mr. Munch. He’s a guy with a lot of layers. I don’t want to give too much away about the ending. But what do you feel his real purpose is, in terms of what he’s actually trying to accomplish in this story? Because there is a twist. What is Mr. Munch’s true purpose and intention?
Tobin Bell: Well, he’s lived in this town for a long time. He really just wants to be left alone. He’s living with bad memories, the pain, ever since this severe loss, when he was a young man. When they took his sweetheart. I think, if you look at a scene between the kids, when they’re knocking on my door…You got a sense of the texture. What his life is like as he talks to them. I think he simply wants to encourage them. Not get in their way, but encourage them to continue on the path they’re on. And I think his demeanor provides really good contrast…To the ending, I think.
You’re not in the movie too much. Coming from an acting standpoint, does that work in your favor, when you’re not around the kids too much. And they just come into this little world you’ve made for yourself? As opposed to bonding with kids on set. You’ve gotta be cold to these kids, and a little on the grumpy side.
Tobin Bell: Yeah. He treats them as equals. I don’t think he talks down to them. And he calls a spade a spade. He speaks directly, he doesn’t baby them. He tells them the truth as he knows it. Or wants to tell it to them. At that point in time, I think what’s interesting with these kind of roles is that, you don’t want to go in the obvious direction. Because if you do, it becomes a little one note. So you try to create some sense of humanity in the character. And that helps the people be interested in the character. And it’s in the relationships that he has in the film, which in this case is with the kids when they come in. Uh huh. It raises questions and those questions ultimately get answered.
Well, that’s the thing that I think is interesting. What you’re saying is, usually a relationship like this, the older person in question simply befriends the kids. This guy Mr. Munch? I wouldn’t necessarily say he is a friend. And by the end of the movie, we know he has ulterior motives. It’s definitely not what the viewer expects. It’s refreshing to see things move in the direction that they ultimately do.
Tobin Bell: Yeah.
There’s a cold space between these two kids and mean Mr. Munch. This is not the neighbor we might be expecting.
Tobin Bell: And did you feel like it worked?
Absolutely. Because I could never quite figure out what this dude was about. All the way to the end. It’s about surprises.
Tobin Bell: He still kind of got his word, I think. Yeah, he lets them in as far as he wants to let them in. I don’t want to give too much away. You find out what his real motivation is as the film progresses.
Not to press on the ending, but is there room for more black eyed kids movies? Because this definitely feels like a franchise that you should definitely be a bigger part of moving forward.
Tobin Bell: Oh, really? I don’t know. Maybe. You never know. It all depends on the legs of the film. And how popular the film gets. And how it’s received.
Now, it’s just really odd.
Tobin Bell: What’s that?
It seems odd to me now. Because you have a movie come out and it falls quiet. Then seven months later, people watch it on a certain streaming service. All of a sudden it becomes huge. Even though it’s been out for a while. So you never know when or how something’s gonna hit. It’s got to be kind of an odd feeling when you release a movie nowadays.
Tobin Bell: Yeah. I think in the next month or so, we’ll see a lot about how the film is received. Where it kind of fits in. I think that Craig Moss and the guys behind it, Golden Studio, they’re always thinking, those guys. They are creative people. I know Craig is a terrific director and producer. If there’s something else to be said, he’ll find it.
I think this is the first black eyed kids movie. Were you aware of the urban legend and who these kids were? Did you know the truth behind this phenomenon?
Tobin Bell: No. I honestly did not, I was not aware of the urban legend of the black eyed kids. I was born in Queens, New York. Spent thirty-nine years in New York. Was raised in Massachusetts. Northeast. Everything. But I’ve been told since, by people who live in New Jersey, and places like that…There are these questions about the black eyed kids. And frankly, they even exist now in states like Utah and Nevada. Where there’s so much open landscape. Sometimes you’ll be driving on the road late at night. There will be this being standing there, you know…So I wasn’t aware, being raised in Massachusetts. I knew more about the witches of Salem and Lizzie Borden than anything else. I really wasn’t raised on any of that other stuff. I loved westerns as a kid.
If you didn’t grow up in horror, what’s it like to be known as one of today’s biggest horror icons?
Tobin Bell: I don’t think about that. I’m an actor and I act. I don’t honestly think about all the rest of that stuff. Horror icons and all that. That is somewhere in the marketing world. Somewhere in the PR world. Somewhere in the minds of others. I do the same thing, whether I’m playing an astronaut or a priest or a cowboy. I approached my work the same way. I ask the same questions. Obviously, depending on the road, you ask different questions. You add questions. It’s a tremendous adventure . It runs parallel to human life. Our bodies are our instruments. We don’t have a trumpet, we don’t have drums or guitar. We just have ourselves and our soul . And trying to bring things to life, moment to moment, as if it were happening for the first time. When in fact, it could be the 30th take. So it’s pretty, pretty, pretty amazing.
Inspired by a very popular online urban legend, we created a story that brought back many of the elements of the wonderful Family Sci-Fi Adventure Thrillers of the 80’s and 90’s. In addition, we cast the movie with some of the most talented young actors around including Makenzie Moss, Sadie Stanley, O’Neill Monahan, Siena Agudong, Makenzie Ziegler along with the master of horror/thriller himself Tobin Bell. All of these great actors playing these interesting characters who reside in this fictitious small town which became a character onto itself. And although the town is small, we wanted to make this location larger than life as we shot the film on a wide lens giving the audience not only packed frames full of information but heightening the suspenseful moments throughout the film.
Also, having a twelve-year-old female protagonist at the center of our story was something that we haven’t seen in a long time… not to mention a twelve-year-old girl who turns into a bad ass ultimately becoming a true hero in the end. Our hope is to inspire generations of young girls to believe in themselves and to always do the right thing.
Ultimately, Let Us in sets out to be the gateway Sci-Fi Thriller for a younger audience that combines the great Family Sci-Fi Adventure Thrillers from their parent’s childhood as well as implementing a modern take on the genre… all of which things we haven’t seen in quite some time.