Thursday, November 10, 2016
DIRECTOR: Phil Claydon
WRITER: Gary Dauberman
Ronnie Gene Blevins
John, his wife Melanie and his teenage daughter Hannah move into their new home. He's about to begin his new job and has moved his family away to accommodate his new role. As they start to set up their lives in their new house. They'll soon discover that the house was once the site of a brutal murder. A family was once killed in the residence. Hannah soon learns that they may not be alone in their new home.
Looking at the poster for Within. I went into this movie under the impression that I was about to witness a low-budget, indie horror film. I hadn't seen any promotional campaign or a trailer for the film. I was going into this one completely blind. Looking at the release information for the film, Within actually had a release back in October of 2016. The film, however, has no box office information for it so it may have been pulled from its release schedule. A mystery it seems.
As the movie began to roll, I noticed that the Warner Bros. logo appeared. Next, the New Line Cinema titles appeared on the screen. This is a movie that had two pretty significant studios behind it. So I was somewhat shocked as I hadn't heard a single thing about this movie but Within seemed to be backed by these two huge studios. I assumed that if this were released, they would've got at least a trailer out on some of the significant cinema sites but I couldn't find anything on this film.
Once the film had ended, I was left scratching my head. Not because the movie was confusing, but I was still shocked that this film flew entirely under the radar. I started to think that both New Line and Warner Bros. would not have known what to do with this movie and just dropped it into cinemas for a short period of time just to be done with it. This is the only thing that I can think of which would be the reason why no one knew or really knows about Within.
In 2016, we've had a lot of films that deal with home invasions or stories where an intruder is already inside their house. Just off the top of my head, we've had Ratter, Intruders, 13 Cameras, The Boy, The Good Neighbor, Hangman, and Intruder. Within has a remarkably similar third act to the more well-known The Boy and Hangman. It's where Within takes things that feels like it goes a lot further. For a studio movie, I am completely floored by how dark this movie got. I feel this may be one of the reasons why Warner Bros. and New Line dropped this movie as they may not have known how to sell this to an audience as it may have alienated people.
I think where Within suffers is that for a vast majority of the running time, not much happens in the first and second act. The third act is where things go a little 'People Under The Stairs', and it gets extremely dark. The rest is a father clashing with his daughter, who is pissed that she's now been forced to move away from her friends. The creepy next door neighbour who is being set up as the possible bad guy and a few glimpses of our actual intruder that almost looks supernatural which had me confused at the vision for the film's villain.
I think a big problem that people will have with the film is that once things start to escalate, the family really doesn't do much to protect themselves or make any great decisions. The character choices in this movie are pretty weak. Towards the end, we have a situation where they should just run out the front door but instead, they run up the stairs. It's the exact situation Neve Campbell talks about in Scream, and they do it. Little things like this come across as annoying.
The acting is what gets this movie a point. I enjoy Michael Vartan as a lead. He's not in One Hour Photo territory here, and his character may come across as the stubborn father who won't listen to anyone, but he holds his own. Nadine Velasquez as the cool stepmother was also great. I loved seeing her play a stepmother who gets along with the teenage daughter. A stepmother who sticks by and cares for her. I really liked the dynamic. Erin Moriarty as our teenage daughter is given the most to do here and for the most part, she sells it. She seems to be the smartest character in the house.
When it comes to the suspense and bloodshed, the movie isn't exactly scary. It has a few quick jump scares and sudden loud noises, but more often than not, they didn't exactly land for me. The film in its third act gets really dark like I mentioned several times previously. This isn't gory or even bloody by most standards, but those people looking for a happy ending will be sorely disappointed. I'm still in shock that Warner Bros. and New Line left this conclusion in the film. If they do decide to give this a new name and later 2017 release, I wonder if they'll reshoot the ending to give it a more happy, Hollywood ending or let it die quietly on video on demand.
DEATH TOLL: 5
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone has a bag put over the head and hit with a hammer.
- Someone is shot in the head.
- Floors covered in blood from a gunshot wound.
- Someone's arm is slashed.
- Someone is repeatedly stabbed.
- Someone's neck is snapped.
- Someone is strangled to death.
- Someone is stuck in the stomach with a piece of metal.
Within is not original by any stretch of the imagination. This is a story that we've seen many times previously. What plays like a mix of The Boy meets The People Under The Stairs has a lot of problems. Silly character decisions, a slow first and second act and some terrible dialogue, drag this movie down in the end. A substantial and extremely dark third act and some halfway decent performances aren't enough to save this film from being a pretty mediocre home invasion film.