I’m assuming that anyone with an internet connection is at least familiar in passing with the urban legend of the “Black Eyed Children,” but just in case you’re not, here’s a brief recap of the phenomenon : pale and creepy-looking kids with retina-free eyes whose color can best be described as falling somewhere between “onyx” and “obsidian” show up unannounced on peoples’ front doors and/or porches and ask, in “vampire rules” fashion, to be let in. Sometimes they provide a pretext (“I’m hungry,” “I’m cold,” etc.), sometimes not, but whatever the case, if you do let ’em in you’ll probably regret it. Often they don’t appear to do much more than creep people out and overstay their welcome, but sometimes they’ve been known to go so far as to kill folks, so hey — why take the chance? Apparently these sightings go back decades, perhaps even centuries, and while no one’s exactly sure who or what these kids are, much less what they want, numerous theories abound, mostly of the — as you’ve no doubt already guessed — extraterrestrial or interdimensional variety.
If it all sounds a bit far-fetched to you, dear reader, you’re far from alone, but the story has been co-opted to serve as the foundation for any number of self-published novels, a handful of “non-fiction” books from paranormal-themed publishing houses, and Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski have even based a pretty good little Aftershock Comics series called B.E.K. : Black Eyed Kids on all this hubbub. So there’s definitely a “niche market” interest in this subject, and why not? After all, as crazy as it all may come off to skeptics and “non-believers” (myself included), it’s still a million times more believable than all this “Pizzagate” bullshit that’s taken the online world (or the really fucking stupid parts of it, at any rate) by storm over the last few weeks and is well on its way to becoming a bona fide modern-day witch-hunt. So, hey, not only is it probably well past time that someone made a Black Eyed Children-themed horror flick, at this point you honestly have to wonder both what took so long and if it’s already a case of “too little, too late” given than ever-more-dubious modern myths are springing up to capture the interest and attention of less-than-critical thinkers the world over.
Stepping boldly into the breach and beating everyone else to the punch, though, was one Justin Snyder, who launched a crowd-funding effort on Kickstarter in 2015 to get his brainchild, Black Eyed Children : Let Me In made — and claimed that he could do so for the paltry sum of $350. Response was stronger than he’d anticipated, however, and by the time his campaign was finished he had raised a whopping $767, every penny of which I have no doubt went into the production itself when cameras (okay, his one camera) rolled later that year. In fact, I’d say it’s a fairly safe bet that the entire budget went into a couple of actually rather ambitious practical special effects that can be seen toward the end of the film — at least, I hope that’s where it went, because if he paid any of his actors so much as a dime, then he got ripped off big-time.
Not that he needed to “hire” very many, of course, given that Snyder himself “stars” in this “mockumentary” as an unnamed filmmaker working on a project about — well, you already know. And so he traipses around town (the town in question, I’m reliably informed, being Springfield, Virginia) looking for folks who have supposedly “encountered” the kids and getting both the details of their “ordeals” as well as their theories on who the heck these little shits are and what their whole game is. Of course, at some point he’s gotta talk to a college professor (played by Candice “CJ” Johnson, who gives a performance that’s at least — uhmmm — memorable and unique, to put it politely) to get a learned perspective on all this, but in the end his own curiosity compels him to try to get some “hands-on” experience himself, and he duly heads out toward the Black Eyed Children-sighting “hot spot” of Hunstman Lake, where a group of regular kids had a decidedly hairy run-in with their creepier counterparts (in a scene that’s presented in a very effective manner that any filmmaker with any sized budget would be proud of), only to discover that he’s walking right into a meeting with destiny that’s probably not gonna end all that well for him. So, yeah, not only does this particular “found footage” number owe its entire stylistic premise to The Blair Witch Project, it also more or less swiped its (admittedly skeletal) plot, as well.
Still, absolute redundancy and seriously dodgy acting aside, I’m prepared to give Snyder a bit of a break here, and not solely because of his near-empty war chest. Black Eyed Children : Let Me In (which I caught streaming via Amazon Prime and is also available on a number of cable and satellite “on-demand” services) clearly has its heart in the right place, even if its head is often anywhere but (we’re told at the outset, for instance, that a whopping 2,300 children go missing every day — which is probably only remotely true if you count the ones who get out of their parents’ sight at the mall for about five minutes only to turn right back up again), and there are a smattering of shots in here that are good enough to make you forget, albeit temporarily, that you’re watching a $767 production. The whole thing clocks in at a decidedly lean 69 minutes, so you never really have a chance to get bored even if we have seen most of this before, and word has it that Snyder is now in the process of shopping this “mini-movie” around to see if he can drum up enough interest (and cash) to essentially re-make it as a true “feature-length” film. I wish him the best, and if he gets it done, what the hell? I’ll more than likely give it a look.
Tell you what, though — if he goes back to the drawing board and decides to cash in on “Pizzagate” with some kind of “found-footage investigation,” then I’m out. And you should be, too.