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1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by Jeff Mahler

Sometimes boredom can have deadly results. In order to whittle away at the drudgery of life, Alex and Josie have come up with a little game: following strangers. But when Alex takes the adventure too far, he finds himself trapped in a twisted affair. … see full wiki

Director: Jeff Mahler
Release Date: 2006
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Inside

Inside - 2006

  • Dec 17, 2009
Pros: Can't tell if I really liked D'Agosto or I was confused as well

Cons: not the best made, but decent

The Bottom Line:
“But maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy
~performed by GNARLS

Inside is a quirky psychological thriller sort of merging a low-key Boxing Helena and Pet Semetary, by first time writer/director Jeff Mahler. It covers a subject that is difficult to define, the loss of a loved one and the extremes you go through to work with that loss. It also involves some fairly bizarre characters that, under most circumstances, are fairly non-descript.

Our first creepy little interlude is with Alex, an apparently lonely individual. Young, he works at the local library but seems to really have no friends or family. When not creeping around the perimeters of people’s homes, voyeuristically living his life through theres, we find him sitting patiently at his dinner table with a much read and mangled note spread before him. It is a while before we learn the truth about this note but at the beginning we read it as a very terse directive by his parents to be at the dinner table when they arrive home.

If it can be said, he has a favorite couple he watches, Alice & Mark, who appear at the library repeatedly and always borrowing the same book. He follows them home and blatantly enters the home in the middle of a discussion between the two. He is soon discovered, but not before we ascertain the couple is in deep grief over the loss of their son, a year before.

Now I had a bit of a problem with the fact that they were simply startled to discover this unknown person lurking in their hallway, until more of the story unfolds. Myself, I would have done more than squeak a startled expression had I found this man/boy standing in the hall, listening to my conversation. But all of that is before we watch the unfolding of Alice. What previously appeared to be a bit of a mouse suddenly turns into psycho-mom, complete with underlying madness. The husband, Mark, seems a bit more grounded but it isn’t long before we find he is simply confused and befuddled and is trying to find a way to bring his wife, and their lives, back to sanity.

Alex spends a bit of time with them that evening, sitting through a video on grief counseling that apparently is part of Alice’s nightly regime. I also became a bit confused here because when Alex first arrives at the home, albeit covertly, it is dark outside. Either he spent the entire night, watching videos, or something strange happened, because she is suddenly preparing him a lunch when he says he has to leave to go to work and it is daylight when he walks out.

In a demented twist of fate, he is struck by a car as he leaves and Alice & Mark bring him back into the house to tend to his wounds. Why no one around called for assistance, neighbors are generally a nosey lot, I don’t know. However, he awakes two days later in bed and in extreme pain, with crushed kneecaps. From this point on, Alice is pretty much full blown insane, bringing hubby along for the ride, and we learn the awful truth as well as the plans for Alex. It isn’t particularly pretty.

In a side story, we see Josie, a nymph Alex has met in the park. She’s another of those people he has followed but she’s just a tad bit spacey, to be kind. She is also a kleptomaniac, as it turns out. Something she continues just to aggravate her father, a psychologist. She is also the only one that pursues the missing Alex, trying to figure out what happened to him. Later we discover the connection between Josie and Alice & Mark, which is also a bit bizarre.

Overall this could have probably been a better made film, by someone with a bit more experience. However, it was entertaining in a strange and unusual way. The parents grief is certainly something I could understand and identify with, as well as the desire for just a few more moments with the person that died. This, however, creepy. Josie obviously was thrown in to offer a bit of comedic relief to an otherwise morose movie.

Nicholas D’Agosto played the part of Alex with barely any emotion. It is hard to warm up to him or share even a bit of sympathy for him because he is so closed off from everything. Half the time you can’t tell if he is just purring Alice on or if he is actually starting to believe what they are telling him. In the same vein, he gives absolutely no part of himself to his co-workers and barely anything to Josie, who is all fun and laughter. Josie was played by Leighton Meester and is so free-spirited you just have to love her.
Cheryl White and Kevin Kilner took on the roles of Alice & Mark Smith. Kevin was rather mundane, much like a regular old guy going through personal grief. Cheryl, however, really flowed into her madness so quickly and with such ease, it was almost like she was making a completely different movie than the rest of the cast and she wasn’t telling them about it. Add to that her plain and common persona and exterior demeanor, crazy, that’s all I can say.

Much of the story is entirely unbelievable, even in this day and age. Not the fact that they could hold someone hostage for an extended period, but the fact that no one in their circle, including their minister, was aware their son had been dead over a year. As well, no one was aware of the circumstances of Alex’s parents either.

As far as quality, neither the picture or sound were that great but I attest that to a first-timer and a small budget. I didn’t find a rating on it, but with Josie’s liberal language and the mild but startling violence, it would definitely rate an R. It was nominated, and won, one award as Best Feature at the Dances With Films selections. DVD extra included a play-by-play commentary by Jeff Mahler, with some slight discussion about the trials and tribulations of independent film making.

Not a film I’d rush out to purchase or even rent, but if you run across it, an interesting watch. Offbeat for sure.



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