I started with Inside because it was the first movie I found in this collection that did not get uniformly dreadful reviews.
It starts out with a nice switcheroo as a kid is eavesdropping on a couple who are talking about him. At the cue of a toilet flushing we realize that they were not talking about him, but about the guy in the bathroom. About to be busted, interloper Alex quietly flees the house.
Alex (Nicholas D’Agosto) has an interesting hobby: intruding, lurking, spying, staring. Just generally being on the outside looking in. Or in the first scene, on the inside looking further in. And then in the park, on the outside still looking out. He had seen Josie (Leighton Meester) in the library where she busted him for staring at another couple. He then follows her to the park where he is busted again, this time for staring at her.
So apparently hot teen girls like to go with dweeby voyeurs back to their place after they are caught staring at them in the park. That has not been my experience. She did, however, try to steal his wallet. OK, this is starting to ring true now.
The next day he follows the couple from the library to their home. As he is peeking in the window, the woman catches him. She believes she saw their dead son, who Alex does resemble. Alex lets himself in and listens to them argue about their inability to cope with their son’s death. There is something disconcerting about the simplicity of the scenes where Alex has intruded, and passively observes without the residents seeing him. Then they see him.
Rather than calling the police or bringing out the Louisville Slugger, they invite him to dinner. He is a dead ringer for their son who died a year ago. Alice (Cheryl White) shows Alex a picture of her ex-son Timmy.
This not a nit-pick site because I don’t care about the length of cigarette ashes, positions of water glasses, what year cars are made, etc. But I am baffled by obvious errors that slip through. On the cover, Alex has a mole just above his lip on the left. In the movie, Alex has that same mole, but it is on the right. OK, when Alice brought out the picture of Timmy, I thought maybe he was the one on the cover; but no, he also has the mole on the right. I could produce photographic evidence, but frankly all this talk of moles is making me a little sick.
Alice asks him to stay and just watch TV with her like Timmy. He falls asleep and wakes up the next morning. As he is leaving, Alex is hit by a car, and the Smiths take him in as a replacement for Timmy. Soon they are having family movie night, gardening together, tossing around the football, playing Monopoly.
Alex begins to realize that the Smiths’ problem is not just depression or neediness, but a delusion that he really is Timmy. This is especially true of Alice, as Mark (Kevin Kilner) still seems to have a connection to reality, seeing Alex as more a surrogate than resurrected Timmy .
The suspense deepens when the family is visited by their priest and later a therapist, neither of whom know that Timmy died (what did they do, bury him in the backyard? oh). Alex is a close enough match that they suspect nothing, and his protests are taken as teen angst.
Alex, needy in his own way, is partly complicit in this, but eventually realizes that he needs to go home. When he tries to tell Alice he is not Timmy, she washes his mouth out with soap, and eventually she goes all Annie Wilkes on him. Luckily he was already hobbled in the accident so no ankles were harmed in the filming of this scene.
And by the way, what happened to the driver? Luckiest hit and run perp ever.
Alex tries to escape in a squeaky wheelchair one night. Alice stops him, but in the struggle, he falls, hits head, and they bury him in the garden. He regains consciousness in the suspiciously illuminated grave and begins calling out for help. The camera pans down to show Timmy a couple of feet further down, now just a skeleton. Not sure that is decompositionally accurate, but it works.
Josie goes to the Smith house, but I am not clear on how she knows about them. Jose digs Alex up while the Smiths are out shopping. A twist is revealed that explains why Alex has allowed this to go on. Of course, they are busted trying to leave and there is a confrontation.
Overall, I liked it. Inside deserves better than being $.25 of a $5.00 DVD. The performances were almost all very good. Alice is given the heavy lifting, and handles it like Vasiliy Alekseyev. It was a little disconcerting that Mark constantly reminded me of a hybrid clone of Huey Lewis and David Puddy, but he was also good walking the line between delusion and clarity. Unfortunately, every time I saw Alex, I thought of Toby McGuire; but he gave a good subdued performance.
Josie seems a little over the top, but no more than I have seen in real people. I wouldn’t call her the comedy relief, but she does at least raise the pulse of the film. Her big problem is that the screenplay has to really strain to keep her in the story. Not being a Gossip Girl guy, Leighton Meester has only shown up on my radar through her role as Behrooz’s girlfriend in 24 S4 where she was less obnoxious, did not drop F-bombs, and was very cute. So they killed her.
I rate it just a little bit inside.
- Good, but not to be confused with the very good French movie Inside.
- In addition to the apparent flipped image on the cover, I also have to call them out on Leighton Meester’s photo which is terrible. And unless the tag line is “Stars of the first season of Heroes . . .”, I’m not sure it helps.
- Still thinking about how good Cheryl White was. She was plain, beautiful, nurturing, crazy, whatever she needed to be.
- What is with this sign in the library? Are they really thinking that some Authors’ last names are going to start with DK? Is this part of the Dkewey Decimal System?