Lionsgate // 2008 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2009
Death is catching.
Something sinister is going down in the backwater Southern hamlet of Grovetown. A rash of suicides has turned into a supernatural plague and WATCH OUT FOR THE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN NUTJOBS!!!!!
For 18-year-old Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice), her adolescent life has gotten a whole lot more complicated since her peers have begun killing themselves in violent, grotesque ways. It looks to be some kind of supernatural curse, and the cute, brooding pagan warlock kid she's been making googly-eyes is at the center of it.
Meanwhile, the religious rabble-rousers are going out of their minds with Holy rage, intent on punishing the "Satanic" family that they believe is bringing down the full measure of Hell's firepower on the town.
Yeah, I get it. Those goofy backwoods Christians are a) gun-crazy yahoos willing to execute non-believers with hunting rifles, b) closeted homosexuals so ashamed of their deeds that they're willing to kill innocent men or c) insane, pyromaniacs that won't think twice about burning a Goth kid alive. From Within makes all this abundantly clear yet, for some reason, remains dull, uninspired, derivative and meandering.
Look, I'm not opposed to creepy religious horror movies. But when there have been so many of these crazy-ass plots about small-minded Christians f-ing things up, it all just grows tedious. Maybe the folks behind From Within could toss in something new to the conversation? Uh, no. The ridiculous caricatures are as twisted and mundane as ever.
Setting aside this highly annoying aspect, there is value to be found here. The driving gag of a widespread plague of suicides has a nice little mythology attached to it, culminating in a surprising and dark and satisfying ending; in fact, despite my general displeasure with the film as a hole -- it's too slow, not particularly scary and cops out with the chump Christian-bashing -- the final sequence is terrific and my current favorite out of this year's crops of AfterDark Horrofest entries.
The shocks are more of the creepy, jump scene variety. Gore is limited to some sucking gunshot wounds and a pair of scissors to the neck and burnt-alive scene. There are, however, plenty of dead-eyed young girls wandering around the place with that slack-jawed, freaky look recent horror films have come to embrace.
The video quality (2.40:1) is more than solid, clean and popping in detail straight through. The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround is a winner, too, robust and loud. The only extra is the par-for-the-course series of Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
From Within is my least favorite of the Eight Films to Die For. The ending is great and there are some unnerving moments, but the slow pace and predictable clichés are a killer.
Guilty. How about joining a small group or something?
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R