Director – Phedon Papamichael
Cast – Elizabeth Price, Thomas Dekker, Kelly Blatz, Laura Allen, Adam Goldberg, Margo Harshman, Brittany Robertson
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After hearing that this was one of the “better” films from the usually mediocre annual “Horrorfest” films, and the fact that I wanted to see my “Even Stevens” crush Margo Harshman’s performance in this film, I decided to give this one a shot. This film is one of those “religious horror” films that displays the cliché “Bible thumpers” that many people love to hate. Although I do enjoy the idea of religious horror films(Frailty was AWESOME), I felt that From Within offered nothing new to this horror sub-genre, and is a clichéd mess minus it’s pretty twisted, enjoyable ending.
The film takes place in Grovetown, a small Bible-thumping town mainly full of religious fanatics who believe that all “good” is ordained by God, and all “bad” is caused by Satan himself. When a string of suicides begin taking place around town, the inhabitants are quick to blame an outcasted family known to practice “alternative” religion. Our lead protagonist, Lindsay(Elizabeth Rice), sticks up for, and befriends Aidan(Thomas Dekker) who is being shunned by the town due to the belief that him and his brother, who was the first to commit suicide and was found with a book of spells, caused this plague of suicides. With the town getting more uneasy and the police having no legal pathways to do anything about Aidan’s family, the townsfolk begin to take matters into their own hands. Lindsay is then faced with a tough dilemma when she learns a dark secret Aidan was hiding about his family, and must then do what she can to put an end to the suicide curse, while fighting off the crazy townsfolk who have had enough of this debauchery.
This film is director Phedon Papamichael’s first major film as a director, but it doesn’t show very much other than in issues with the film’s characters. He is an accomplished cinematographer who was Director of Photography in 3:10 to Yuma, W., The Pursuit of Happiness, Sideways, and Identity(to name only a FEW), so this guy really knows how to create awesome, scenic shots that help set the mood and atmosphere for the film. I really found the cinematography to be the best part of this film, and the acting wasn’t too bad either. I was especially happy to see Adam Goldberg(who was epic in 2 Days in Paris) in this film portraying the character Roy, a straight up hick who dons a thick mustache, a trucker hat, and other hick-related accessories. Haha! Any fans of his will seriously find it hilarious to see him portray this character, and he still adds a bit of his wittyness to his redneck character.
This film really didn’t have a lot of good scares in it for me, although the dopplegangers that’s the plague’s victims see before death did look pretty creepy, although they were definitely J-Horror influenced. I found these kills to be heavily influenced by the film “Mirrors”(which is a remake of the asian film “Into The Mirror”) in that the victim sees an exact replica of themselves, and the replica makes the victim commit suicide. In all actuality, that is pretty much EXACTLY taking from the Mirrors(Into the Mirror) kill sequences. As I mentioned earlier when commenting on Phedon Papamichael’s job as director, one of the biggest problems with this film has to do with the film’s characters. Although I enjoyed Adam Goldberg’s character, there were quite a few other characters that simply should have been done away with, and really added nothing to the plot. We also do not see very much chemistry between our main characters, which detriments from the film due to how fake and forced their relationship comes off as. I am really sad to admit that Margo Harshman’s character, whom I was really interested in seeing, was completely unlikeable, and aside from one decent scene involving her at the end, was useless in this film. All she did was look weird, be a creep, use a lot of crappy smartass one-liners that were more annoying than anything, and be a small source of conflict for our lead protagonists. I was really expecting her to be used to the films advantage when she first appeared on screen, yet she was kept back for unknown reasons and for the most part failed at providing anything helpful to the film.
Overall, this is an unoriginal film that borrows from many other films to produce a film so cliché, it can only appeal to the idiots the film’s producers intended it to appeal to. This film really isn’t per say a “bad” film(I’ve seen a lot worse!), it just isn’t anything I would recommend. From Within seems more like a long X-Files episode, just not as good as the X-Files of course.