In 10 Words or Less
Our house...is a ve-ry nutty house
Loves: Twisted stories
Likes: Inventive stories
Dislikes: Overacting, missing logic
Hates: Bad endings, convoluted stories
Some genres of film have been so definitively mined that they are hard
to reinvent, so new examples tend to resemble paint-by-number kits. In
the case of the noir film, the challenge has resulted in some
tremendously inventive films, such as Memento. Psychological thrillers,
on the other hand, have been a muddle of predictable twist endings and
by-the-book character development. Sadly, Inside Irvin is just another
log on this pile.
I say sadly, because the concept is pretty interesting. A "small" film,
it takes place in one house, where Ida and Irvin live their entire
lives. Somehow, neither one works, yet they want for nothing, except to
never ever leave the house again. They pretend to go to the opera, they
celebrate holidays and they enjoy each other's company. Truthfully
though, they aren't alone in the house, a fact that plays itself out over the rest of the movie.
For much of the first half of the film, it feels like the film is going
someplace worth the trip, as a sense of oddness is established, and the
story is seemingly coming together, forming a disturbing House of
Yes/Flowers in the Attic feel. But all the work that went into creating
this world goes to waste as the story falls into cliche after cliche,
which isn't helped by the performances, which though not bad, are
negatively magnified by the story's problems.
There's not a lot of story here, as the same themes are explored again
and again, as mental problems (more than those displayed previously)
start cropping up, and the two characters cope with the repercussions.
It would be hard to do much more, considering the limitations of the
cast size and setting, but an attempt would have made this a better
The one place the film really succeeds is in making Ida a sympathetic
character you can really get behind. As her efforts to gain a measure of
control over her unusual home life fall apart in the face of some
uninspired twists, you begin to actually care about her. But in the end,
that doesn't mean much, since it's all thrown away with an ending that
neither works nor comes at the right time, after several moments that
probably should have been followed by credits, including one that's so bereft of logic and reason that it takes the film in a direction it really didn't need to go in, and is unable to recover from.
Inside Irvin is a one-disc release packaged in a standard keepcase that
features one of the weirdest cover photos I've seen recently. The disc
has a static full-frame main menu with options to watch the film, select
scenes and check out the special features. There are no audio options,
no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The letterboxed widescreen transfer has several problems, not the least of which is the fact that it's not anamorphic. There are many issues in the image, including noticeable digital artifacts, especially during darker scenes, which frequently are just too dark. The rest of the movie isn't as bad, though there's a softness to the image that's a bit annoying.
The sound is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that is clear and free of distortion. The music and dialogue is nicely delivered and maintains a good separation throughout the film.
The extras are somewhat limited here, starting with an 11-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that mixes on-set footage and interviews with producer/actor Christo DiMassis and writer Kimberly Seilhamer. Some details of the film's creation and the thoughts that went into the story are shared for those who are interested. Eight deleted scenes follow, but nothing is too fascinating. The film's trailer, presented inletterboxed widescreen, and a photo gallery are also included.
The Bottom Line
The idea behind Inside Irvin is very interesting, and could have made a pretty good film, in the right hands. As it is, it's an OK indie film that's trying a bit too hard to be "out there." There are better movies that have covered similar ground, and many of them have higher-quality DVDs with anamorphicwidescreen transfers and more and better extras.
If you want to support indie film, you can check it out, but there's better ways to spend your 85 minutes.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.