Friday, July 22, 2016

The Horror Within – review

Director: Tom Sanders

Release date: 2005

Contains spoilers

There is perhaps something postmodern about a group of filmmakers making a rubbish horror film about a bunch of filmmakers making a rubbish horror film but that is about the best thing I can say about this.

The fact that it is a film full of cliché is perhaps not as distracting as the poor photography and insistence on using cgi effects that look, well quite frankly, a bit rubbish. That said, they have done something I couldn’t do, make a film, so perhaps the criticism is a bit harsh?

Nick turns
It starts with a man, Nick (Zack Cooper), heading up the stairs to a house with shotgun in hand. He is met by tenant Collins (Garrett Lambert) and tells said tenant that the sheriff is on his way and it’s all to do with the murders that have occurred since Collins moved in to the area. Things escalate and Nick shoots the man at which point light seems to seep out of his wound (I have no idea why these vampires leak light – but suspect the effect was cheaper and easier than doing physical blood). The vampire bites him. When the Sheriff (Greg McCullough) arrives Nick has turned and attacks him.

making movies
We see a whole bunch of young people start their day. This includes seeing one young woman – Jessica (Michelle Crain) talking a shower. It is gratuitous but that is the point as this is footage of the film within the film and there is a question around exploitation that is explored but not very deeply. The film is called the Curse of the Weremonkey. Jessica’s boyfriend Ethan (David Roers) is the scriptwriter and he asks director Travis (Jesse Blitz) were the dialogue went – there was meant to be a sister, we assume it wasn’t a shower scene and Travis has changed the script.

Lynne Jacobellis as Emma
Ethan has writer’s block and does it matter what he writes when Travis changes it anyway. Jessica is making out with him to cure the block when the place fills up with people. Dexter (Pavel Royz) arrives with a desire to produce the film (his dad (Michael Spagnoli) is a producer) but is sent away with a flea in his ear. Emma (Lynne Jacobellis, True Blood) arrives and Travis wants to use her in film but she can only film that weekend. This leads to him cutting a deal with Dexter for equipment and use of the summer home Dexter’s family own – the very same one from the start of the film.

Dexter and Travis
Also in the mix are Vulc (Amber Phillips), a girl who models herself on TV shows (last week was Buffy, this week Star Trek and so she is wearing Vulcan ears), Frank (Christopher Boicelli), who is now the leading man, was sent by Dexter’s dad to watch his property and is a douche to boot, and Kenny (Owen Robinson), Travis’ brother and a gentleman with learning difficulties who is playing the monster. Frank is the first to be got and then turned (why Nick turns him is beyond me).

Invisible on playback
So, the idea is to stay alive and maybe kill the vampires. The lore is inconsistent. For instance when they look at a scene where Frank (who they don’t know is a vampire at the time) gets it on with Emma and ends up biting her playback of the scene has him not showing up (except for an occasional Predator like invisible effect). That would be all well and good but he did show on the computer monitor as they filmed it. The vampires seem to be able to turn to little balls of light (which would actually fit in with some traditional lore) but also seem to be able to carry off a victim when in that form.

mind control
Another inconsistency is Nick being staked and going grey until the stake is removed, and yet another vampire is staked and then dies fairly rapidly in a ball of light. The vampires have a very powerful mind control power and can think it and make their victim feel it. Beheading will kill a vampire in a bad cgi way (and left a body behind, whereas the staked vampire who died seemed to leave no remains) and crosses burn and do awful things to a vampire if they swallow the cross.

I mentioned the exploitation aspect and this comes out in Dexter convincing Travis to make Emma’s scene a nude scene and her being unhappy with the change – Travis then insists on it until he is reminded of friendship. It’s a little ham fisted and not explored enough. Dexter, like a moustache twirling villain, manages to betray all the others for some footage of a vampire – though the deal he makes is bizarre. Essentially he offers to hand Jessica over to Nick, getting him around their defences but they have no real defences and he really doesn’t do anything to help the vampire anyway.

The problem is that this is a pretty standard by the numbers horror (stereotyped kids, house, evil) and doesn’t do anything really that original. The photography is atrocious, the atmosphere thin, the cgi intrusive and, at times, confusing. The acting is ok for what it is but was never going to win any awards. When a film is so budget constrained one would hope for a bright light within the production to help offer a cult status for the film. This doesn’t have one. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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