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FROM WITHIN
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Phedon Papamichael

Starring:
Elizabeth Rice
Thomas Dekker
Kelly Blatz
Laura Allen

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Boy meets girl. Boy decides to aerate his brain with gun. Girl hightails it to her family's shop, saying she was followed by a mysterious woman. Girl stabs self with scissors. Father finds her body and eventually follows suit. Turns out we have ourselves a suicide plague being caused by a mysterious entity that enters the first person who discovers the recent suicide victim. Throw in an outcast family in a town of hardcore evangelicals that's somehow involved in the plague, some chick caught between the two sides, and me wondering when Dexter is on.

Is it good movie?

I think it's safe to say that for every great After Dark Horrorfest entry, there are two not-so-great entries tagging along that year for the ride, hoping to put on a show that will at least get some favourable response. FROM WITHIN would be one of those two not-so-great entries. What seemed like a neat concept is ruined by some rather obvious problems, compounded by the fact that writer Brad Keene (THE GRAVEDANCERS) sought to create something that was 'scary and high concept'.

As previously stated, the film starts off with a bang (sorry), employing a concept that seems like a combo of FINAL DESTINATION, MIRRORS and THE HAPPENING. This in itself is actually kind of interesting. Helping to ease the tension out for the moments that may or may not involve the entity are some sharp camera angles and loud sound effects, which are boosted by the film's score. Even though all this amounts to a couple of suspenseful scenes and one or two spots that can be considered scary, it's still noteworthy.

Unfortunately, after the first 15 minutes, the story begins to slow to a crawl and drags until it finally wakes up for the ending. The main reason for the slowdown comes from the fact that the 'high concept' Keene was looking for involves the use of subplots we've heard before. Yes, small-minded fanatical 'Christians' ruin everything for everyone else by acting like asshats to anyone who doesn't share their view. Yes, there's irony in a pastor having a dark secret from his past. Yes, the pastor's son uses his faith as an excuse to be violent. Blah, blah, f*cking blah. If the film stuck with one subplot and chucked the rest, things probably would've gone smoother.

The knee to the face after the sucker punch comes from the acting and script. Not one character in this film is believable. It's like the actors go through the motions of a particular scene half-assed, and then move onto the next scene and do that one half-assed. As for the script, let's put in some of that teenage angst that the kiddies like. Oh yeah, and let's appeal to the typical horror fan by making it so that there's just enough violence and scary stuff that's makes it barely worth watching. Oh wait, we screwed ourselves! No teen will want to see something that deals with icky violence and scary stuff (it's rated R, anyways), and no self-respecting horror fan will want to see something with this much angst outside of a Linkin Park concert.

How a film like this got caught up in a lose-lose situation would is amazing and frustrating at the same time. A combination of trying to appeal to the TWILIGHT crowd while trying to keep the normal horror fans on board is one mistake, but trying to shoehorn a variety of subplots into a film in an attempt to be above the rest of the genre at the same time is pretentious and downright foolish. Throw in one-dimensional characters with next to nothing in terms of development and crap acting by rejects from The O.C. (or whatever it is you kids watch these days), and you have truly have one of those 'other' After Dark Horrorfest entries.

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in a spiffy 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the video outshines the effort on the screen. Color reproduction looks nice and natural, and black levels are consistently strong throughout the movie. I did notice some edge enhancement in places, but it was in the minority.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track, like the video, is pretty good as well. Dialogue is clean and clear, without any hiss or distortion. Bass response is good and the score sounds very nice, but could've been a bit louder during some of the more tenser moments.

The Extras

The only extra involves the return of the Ms. Horrorfest Webisodes, which feature some moderately attractive goth chicks vying for the title of Ms. Horrorfest by doing various competitions. Yeah, I don't know why, either.

As with the other releases this year, FROM WITHIN gets a lenticular slipcase featuring its onesheet.

Last Call

All that glitters is not gold. What could've been a fun ride turns out to be difficult to sit through, and not due to anything offensive (unless you count the awful acting and subplots stacked on top of other subplots). Rent MIRRORS and THE HAPPENING, watch them side by side, and you'll hopefully get more out of that than watching this.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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