Wednesday, October 12, 2011

From Within (2008)

Smalltown Hypocrisy, USA

"From Within" is a drama/thriller with elements of horror and the supernatural that includes religion, intolerance and stubbornness in an area called Grovetown that's full of small town views and a local legend that's on the hush hush. A teenager that looks like a goth reads from a book in an odd tongue while sitting next to his girlfriend. He pulls out a revolver as casually as if it's a picnic basket and shoots himself with the horrified girlfriend as a witness. She runs into town a bloody mess as if being chased from something and dies by her own hand as well. From then on out, each unlucky person who was the last to see the person commit the act or their body dies.

The perspective of the small town is shown through another teenage girl named Lindsay who goes to the local high school as well as attends the local church and likes the minister's son at both places named Dylan. Rumors spread about the connection to it all and blinded tempers and closed-minded fears come out. Dylan gets into a fight with a soft spoken kid named Aiden, who's not a member of the church and the brother of the first teen to commit suicide. Lindsay drives him home and there it comes out about Aiden's mother dying in a suspicious fire out back from a fear that she was a witch. Ominous threats are in the air as if a battle is about to ensue with opposing religious beliefs. The local Sheriff sweeps speculation under the rug which causes Lindsay to meddle before anything drastic breaks out. As the suicides begin to pile up, the minister's son holds some clout over the town and takes matters into his own hands with Lindsay caught in the middle between Dylan and Aiden.

"From Within" offers a series of intermittent, sudden scares mixed with the main body of a small town drama that reveals some skeletons in its closet. Some of the pop outs seem too in your face with crisp effects that have tendency to be caught in the frame for too long, leaving out anticipation or mystery as to what it is or how it came to be. On the one hand, it's not going to be as enigmatic as "The Broken" was but parts of it feel too simplified nonetheless. Some of the deaths start to seem less and less random as they so happen to coincide and are spaced out with current events. It takes away from the it-could-happen-to-you-at-anytime nervousness. Though in some areas right before the person is going to get it, it does play on the something-lurking-over-your-shoulder angle with the audience being a witness but helpless to the fact. The one by one death sentences almost seem like something out of "Final Destination" though somewhat less elaborate. Some people go quickly, while others at a later time when convenient to the narrative.

The subtext here concerns religious hypocrisy on both sides that are using it with their own interpretations or how they deem fit for personal gain. There's also intolerance and stubbornness even when faced with some facts. If there was ever going to be an exceptional example of the mentioned, Grovetown is that place. No one is all the way in the right here and that sentiment comes without resolve and a bleak conclusion that it got so out of hand. This is redneck stuff we're dealing with so guns, pick up trucks and beer play a role when it comes to accelerating action. Some of the personalities are caricatures that make the story a little black and white and somewhat easily deciphered. It makes you wonder if the filmmakers didn't think the audience would get the point, hence the obviousness and exaggeration at points. Elizabeth Rice as Lindsay sticks out with a decent portrayal and a share of emotions across the board to feel for her character's actions. Thomas Dekker as Aidan and Kelly Blatz as Dylan get a little more range than the supporting cast but still play their parts with only a few steps outside the box, so essentially you can count on their next moves, which takes away from surprises. This is a little more catered for the late teens crowd, though overall this was a decent enough experience with an actual story and message to share for the experience.

Rating: 6/10

Director: Phedon Papamichael (Dark Side of Genius)
Stars: Elizabeth Rice, Thomas Dekker, Kelly Blatz, Adam Goldberg
Link: IMDB

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