"Nothing is worse off after someone has cared for it." - Alice Smith (dramatic)
"The cake! He would never forget his own nose!" - Alice Smith (comedic)
So what's it gonna be, Inside? Are you a drama I'm supposed to take seriously, or a camp fest just itching for a ride through the Mystery Science Theater 3000 ringer?
Meet young Alex, (Nicholas D'Agosto) an oddball who likes to watch people. Well, actually it's more like spy on them, even breaking into their homes to get a better look. While working at the library, he notices sad couple Alice and Mark Smith (Cheryl White and Kevin Kilner), who frequently check out the same book and leave with mopes on their faces. After befriending kleptomaniac Josie (Leighton Meester), Alex decides to spy on his newfound couple, camping outside their window. His creepy tactics take him a little too far, and he gets caught.
Call the police, you say? No! That would make too much sense. It seems this couple is grieving for their dead son, who died a year ago after a rare bout with osteoporosis. So they are more than happy to welcome this new stranger, who just so happens to look just like their Timmy. So Alex--who may or may not have dead parents--decides to stick around, have some food and watch some TV (including Alice's video on the five stages of grieving...pass the popcorn!). Alex has so much fun he falls asleep on the couch. When he wakes and leaves, he gets hit by a car (d'oh!).
Hero meets Gossip Girl
Call the ambulance, you say? Hell no! Why not try and heal his bloody knees in your own home? Especially if your fragile psyches start to convince yourselves that this is truly Timmy? As for Alex, he seems just fine playing along, but starts to get a little worried when the Smiths' behavior gets more and more zany. When it gets to the boiling point, Alex realizes he has to pretend he's Timmy if he has any chance of saving himself--and this is where the silliness really starts.
You see, for the first hour, this plays like a boring made-for-TV movie that uses the grieving mom to try and tug at your heart. But after one hour, this goes into campy overdrive and ends up being a pale imitator of Misery (hello, bed restraints!) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (hello, wheelchair!), a cheap combo of those two thrillers--which don't even deserve to be mentioned alongside such boring garbage (sorry, Kathy, Joan and Bette!).
The sequence of events that have the two parents controlling Alex are pretty hysterical, as are the convenient accidents that keep befalling him any time he tries to escape. It starts with a laugh-out-loud scene that has Alex trying to figure out where he's supposed to plant flowers in a garden. What would Timmy do? Guess wrong, and psycho mom slams a glass vase to the ground as she watches behind you. Repeat three times. Then laugh hysterically.
Then we get Monopoly, where Mrs. Smith demands that clueless Alex pick the right playing piece, the one Timmy has always used. Cut to Alex's hand reaching for one piece, then cut to mama Smith showing off her Acting 101 skills with a happy or sad expression based on where his hand veers. Repeat three times. Then laugh hysterically.
The Most Dangerous Game
But the fun isn't over, because Alex soon gets confined to his bed to watch a movie non-stop (punishment for not remembering the title), and is starved for four days. He's released just in time for his birthday, which brings us to another fantastically funny scene: the famished Alex unable to blow out his trick candles. I think it was meant to be sad; it had me in stitches.
Death by chocolate: Alice would kill for cake!
You can see where this movie is going every step of the way, and the absurd conclusion (partially spoiled on the box cover!) is yet another treat. What makes it even worse is that while the story is absurd, the performances don't even try to sell it. Watch as Josie--Alex's only hope for survival!--takes her sweet ol' time when the situation calls for speed (seriously, could you be any slower in digging?!).
The acting ranges from dull (daddy Smith is pretty much reduced to a highly useless "yes, dear..." portrayal) to delectably bad (the short scenes with a commode-mouth Meester trying to act hip and tough are a primer on how not to act...watch her say "pussy" and "boobs"! How cool!).
Inside played a handful of small film festivals in 2006, and just got a DVD release this year, thanks in large part to the current success of its two young stars: D'Agosto has appeared on NBC hits Heroes and The Office, while Meester resides on CW smash Gossip Girl. The box cover brags about this having their "most shocking roles ever", which may be true if you're an 11-year-old girl. In fact, this whole film will do best with pre-teen girls into Nancy Drew-like thrillers. Everyone else, skip to the second hour, have a few drinks and start your own commentary with a friend.
Presented in a 1.66:1 transfer enhanced for widescreen TVs, this is a subpar effort that features excessive grain and noise throughout, especially in dark-lit scenes. Even worse, many scenes have noticeable ghosting when people so much as walk. There's no sharpness at all, with some shots looking a little blurry.
The 2.0 surround option is equally forgettable, and seems to have a separation with many lines of dialogue, as if they were dubbed on--background sounds feel disconnected and don't enhance the experience. Still, this relies mostly on dialogue.
The only extra is full-length audio commentary from writer/director Jeff Mahler, who starts by saying: "You're watching this with commentary, which means you've already watched the movie once and you kind of want to go and watch it and learn a little bit more about it, or you hated it and wanted to know what the hell I was thinking." Bingo!
This "thriller" starts as a boring made-for-TV entry, then adds unintentional hilarity. You might enjoy it drunk with a friend, providing your own wisecracks during the film's silly second half. Clearly aimed at a young girl crowd that might find it edgy--and likes its hip television cast--you're best advised to Skip It.