ON THE INSIDE
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
A revenge killing gone wrong lands a man in a detention center awaiting a psychiatric evaluation, where things with the other inmates get out of hand.
Is it good movie?
ON THE INSIDE isnít a bad film, per se, but thereís literally just not much going on with it. Nick Stahl stars as Allen Meneric, a college art professor who snaps when his girlfriend is sexually assaulted. He loses his shit, and kills the man who he thinks did it. He probably should have thought that one through better. Because of a troubled childhood (which we get in swatches of flashback throughout the film) he is remanded to a psychiatric prison awaiting evaluation.
Once inside, his calm demeanor gets him moved from maximum to minimum security, where during a mixer with the female minimum security section he meets bi-polar Mia, played by Olivia Wilde. A short while later, a riot breaks out in max, spurred by psychopath Carl Tarses, whom Allen had some run-ins with. A bunch of dominoes set up by the script fall so that Tarses and his cohort, the simple but emotionally damaged Ben (played by one of my favorite character actors, Pruitt Taylor Vince) have a final showdown with Allen and Mia. And right as they were about to unh tiss, unh tiss, unh tiss.
By this point it should be clear Iím trying to pad this review. What is there to say about a movie that doesnít say anything? Allen had a troubled past, which is not nearly striking enough to wait the whole movie to get pieces of, especially when you already see it coming a mile away. Youíre never sure if his present-day character is supposed to be likeable or not, dangerous or not, sympathetic or not; the other characters are equally vague. Theyíre a lot like pieces moved around on a chess board. They have prescribed ways in which to move, and places to which they can move.
On a nuts and bolts aspect, the film is well-made. The photography is a little muddled, but the high-def transfer for this Blu-Ray is nice and clear. No problems with the sound; in fact, I liked Haim Mazarís score better than anything else in the film. The movie is ostensibly about redemption, but that never plays out in the film. No one is redeemed, or even much tries. There are just some people, and some things happen to them, and then the credits roll. It has some good actors, so itís not a total bust, but prepare to take nothing else away from the film.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen, 1.78:1, 1080p. The transfer looks good, even if the photography is a little soft for my tastes.
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, in English only, with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The sound design is my favorite thing about this film.
The lone feature on this disc is a commentary with writer/director D.W. Brown and actors Joanne Baron and Daniel Franzese. Brown is pretty chatty, and provides some insights into both the plot and behind the scenes stuff. Baron and Franzese, who are minor characters in the film, donít have terribly much to add.
ON THE INSIDE is a well-made film, but it just never builds any tension or even details the redemption of which it claims to be about. I think of films like this as the cinematic equivalent of a Coke: it tastes good on a hot day, but is just empty calories and actually makes you thirstier in the end. There are some good actors to watch, but thatís about the best recommendation I can make.