I’m officially back at work, but I think I’ve figured out a way to keep this blog up during the semester. Again, I will not be posting at the same frequency as I was last summer, but I should be able to get one or two new posts a week (possibly, with some shorter posts (i.e. random thoughts, trailers, etc.) in between the more substantial posts). The rub is that my schedule doesn’t allow me to watch a movie in a single sitting. It’s more likely that I’ll have to watch it in 10-15 minute segments over a couple of days. Not the most ideal viewing conditions, but hey, that’s what my notes are for. The funny thing is, I actually think it may cause me to be more forgiving of a movie (read more below about how it worked out for this movie)… it’s more like a few short sprints than a slogging marathon. It will be interesting to see if my hypothesis proves out over the next few months.
I started watching this movie on my Birthday… and it was no present… though, neither was it a curse. The long and short of it (though, if you’ve read my blog in the past, you know I will definitely be taking the longer route below) is that the creativity of the premise is cancelled out by the weakness of the execution. More on this shortly. First, let me introduce you to Inner Demons. The basic conceit is that an Intervention-type reality show (yes, this is a found-footage horror film (more on the problems with this shortly)) focuses on a religious teenager who is addicted to heroin. However, she may be using in order to control the demon that is possessing her (yes, she is in fact possessed (and no, that is not a spoiler… they reveal the “authenticity” of the possession fairly early in the film)). That, at least to me, is something new and creative (though, perhaps a bit irresponsible), in a sub-genre (the possession film) that is fairly played out (seriously, I’m not sure why anyone would even attempt to make a possession movie post The Exorcist).
Unfortunately, there is too much surrounding this premise that goes horribly, horribly wrong. This movie is guilty of nearly every cliché of not only possession movies, but found-footage horror movies, and horror movies in general. Let’s start with the found-footage part. The good news is that there is a logical reason for the cameras to be running. In fact, there is a good reason for the cameras to be running longer than most found-footage horror movies. That being said, it still can’t escape the inevitable pitfall of why the cameras aren’t put down at some point. In some ways it’s almost worse in this film. There is a specific moment (and I won’t say what it is in order to avoid spoilers) where I actually said out loud “why are the cameras still rolling!?!” They even make a ham-fisted attempt to explain the protagonist’s (the new cameraman on the show… the only person who cares, listens, and has any idea what is really going on… to whom everyone is verbally abusive (more on this later)) insistence on keeping the camera on (Jerk #1: “Give me a hand?”, Protagonist: “No”, Jerk #1: “Why?”, Protagonist: “I’m documenting this!!!”). It doesn’t help that nearly a minute later the protagonist asks, almost with doe-eyes, “What are Oxy and Benzos?”… thank you Captain Exposition! Another common failing of found-footage films is the use of music. I was somewhat forgiving of this at first since the music that was being used seemed pretty on par for an Intervention like show. However, once that premise falls apart and it becomes your standard horror movie, the score shifts to ominous tones and suspenseful crescendos… why would anyone score found-footage! Finally, there are some really well set up camera shots for individuals who are terrified and just happen to be carrying a camera around… I know, it’s not really a new complaint about found-footage horror films, but for some reason, maybe because of the fact that they tried to place the movie in a realistic situation, this film seems especially guilty of these troupes and I am less willing to forgive.
I won’t really go into the failings of the possession-film because I think it’s endemic of all these types of movies (maybe that’s something for another post), but I will briefly hit on two issues. First, they use voice modulation to make the girl’s voice do things that no (non-possessed) human could do, and yet no one reacts. They try to explain it away as “normal junkie stuff”, but that just seems insensitive and just plain wrong. Second, they try to explain how the possession happened (there just happened to be camera’s present there as well…how convenient)… which is super dumb (how’s that for some cogent film analysis). Spoiler alert… the real evil is… peer pressure.
Now, let’s talk about the fear factor in this film. Not surprisingly, it’s near zero. They rely far too heavily on jump scares… even worse the jump scares aren’t earned and most are fake-outs. For example, we’re not even five minutes into the film and they use a normal light bulb pop to startle the viewer. There are also some rascally kids who throw a ball against a car window. Now, just when you thought I had nothing good to say about the film, I want to point to a scare moment that is deftly handled. I won’t give too much away, but there is a mirror trick that made me rewind the movie three times. It didn’t exactly startle me, or scare me, but it did give me goosebumps. It was an earned scare and well executed. I’m not sure if the film is worth watching, but it almost is just for those 10 seconds (seriously, though, don’t waste your time). Well done guys (I guess here is a good place to give credit (the movie was written by Glenn Gers and Seth Grossman)!
Okay, I want to end with what I see as the biggest problem with this movie… the film is just mean… and not in a fun way. For example, and I won’t give anything away, but the ending of the movie is just awful, not in a horror-movie way, not in a poorly-made way, more in a soul-crushing, make-me-feel-gross-and-sad-for-the-world way. Also, all the characters (save for the two protagonists) are just awful human beings. They are smug, glib, rude, callous, thoughtless, mean…. I could list another twenty or so adjectives, but I’d rather not give it that much thought. They try to make the point that the makers of the show (everyone from the cameramen, to the producers, and the counselors) are not altruistic, which could be interesting, but is handled in such a one-note way, that again, it just feels gross.
Oh, and there are some real bad computer effects towards the end of the movie… yikes…
Well, I thought changing my viewing style might affect my reviewing style… not so much… at least for now. It made the movie easier to watch, but having to go back over my notes, seems to bring me back to my place of snark…