Inner Demons (Seth Grossman, 2014)
I will start off with the film’s two biggest flaws, for those of you who want an excuse to get out of this review early. First, yes, the mockumentary/found-footage horror movie is as played-out as calling pocket aces with deuce-seven offsuit because you have a 32% chance of cracking them. And, perhaps even more appalling, yes, this movie’s scares depend on a plot hole big enough that you can drive a semi through it. So those of you who can’t get past those things, I will let you leave class early.
…and now the rest of you are going to hear about the first movie that has actually scared me enough to sleep with a light on since Paranormal Activity 2 (and, for the record, the fifth movie to ever do so; the other three, and take all the time you like to wonder about me, but remember how old I was when the first one came out, were Beware! The Blob, Pet Sematary, and Candyman). Like I said, they rely on a massive plot hole, which I will get to in a second. But when you are confronted with “scrap this footage because of a plothole” vs. “scare the shit out of your audience”, a lot of directors since Alexandre Aja are going to do the latter. And I am here to tell you, when it comes to the scare factor, Inner Demons blows Haute Tension so far out of the water it might be an extra in Sharknado 3.
PLEASE NOTE: The rest of the review, including the synopsis, contain spoilers. So, for those of you allergic to same, the tl;dr version: see this movie. Preferably not alone, and always with the lights on.
Plot: Carson Morris (Hatsuya‘s Lara Vosburgh in her first feature appearance) was a stereotypical good little Catholic girl who won awards for Bible verse memorization. Then she got into an ultra-exclusive Catholic high school, where she discovered heroin and became a goth, in whichever order. Her parents, Beth (Colleen McGran in her first screen role) and Steve (Christopher Parker, ditto), are confused and desperate enough to call in the team from an Intervention-like reality TV show. There’s some good stuff about them tricking her into thinking she’s doing a heroin PSA, the inevitable confrontation…and then she goes into rehab, and that’s when things really start getting good.
And now that plothole. In order for the majority of the scares in this movie to work,
especially the two biggest seat-jumps, no one has to be watching the footage that’s being shot. Otherwise no one would still be going along in this movie thinking she’s suffering withdrawal and a psychotic break. Which seems pretty counterproductive if you’re shooting footage for a TV show. Don’t people usually watch the dailies every morning? And yeah, that’s a huge plot hole, and were this movie not so damn effective at doing what it does, I’d be knocking off points for it big time. But this is a movie that rubs its plot hole in your face and says “I’m still going to scare the hell out of you even while you’re making fun of me.” And it succeeds.
This is a movie that should have gotten way more exposure than it did. Grossman (The Elephant King) has turned in yet another underseen, unappreciated movie that shows just how good he is behind the camera. One of these days someone’s going to sit up and take notice. Get in on the ground floor. ****
Trailer? OF COURSE.