From Within perfectly exemplifies almost everything I find off-putting and empty about modern horror films. The story is unimaginative, a re-hash of everything we’ve seen before; the film world is populated with unsympathetic characters, and there is just a gaping black hole where some sort of warmth or humanity should be.
Of course, horror films exhibit the worst aspects of humanity, violence, murder, etc, but there is something about today’s horror cinema that just feels brutally cold and empty.
Our heroine is Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice), a teenager who lives in a suffocatingly religious small American town. It’s here that a recent ‘suicide curse’ has sprung up, causing the locals to dispatch themselves in numerous gruesome ways.
When Lindsay begins to suspect that she might be the next to die, she joins forces with the typical supposedly cool outcast boy in an effort to find a way of lifting the curse.
If you’ve seen The Ring, then your imagination will probably be better than anything conjured up here, as we’re treated to yet more mind-numbingly predictable images of spooky, dark-haired girls doing that annoying fast cut thing where they walk slowly but somehow still manage to always be behind the person getting killed.
The major problem with this film is that it just seems to be going through a checklist of horror film stereotypes. I’ve already mentioned the spooky ghost girls, but on top of this we have the banally pretty 20-somethings posing as teenagers, the indie-acoustic soundtrack, and the ‘cool’ outcast who rebels against the rest of the town. The depiction of religious enthusiasts ticks almost every film cliché box there is: they’re hypocritical, blind to their own sins, unhinged and violent in the name of God, and bordering on crazy. There’s even a priest who confesses to having indecently assaulted a young boy – it’s all just a bit too much.
Added to the lack of creativity, there’s the fact that this film is just plain depressing. Much in the same way that The Hills Have Eyes remake piled horrendous act on top of horrendous act until it became practically unwatchable, so we have here women being kicked and burned alive, girls being stabbed in the neck with scissors, and people shooting themselves, which all climaxes with the total mass suicide of the whole town.
It’s relentlessly miserable with not a shard of humour to lighten the mood. The characters are dull, the script is dull, and the whole thing just feels like a cheap knock-off of every other horror film to come out of America in the last few years.
Extras are also sparse, including only a trailer and UK promo.
From Within is available now.