Movie Review - Inner Demons
IFC Midnight's latest, Inner Demons, isn't the first movie to deal with possession this year, and it certainly isn't the first film to utilize the POV-style 'mockumentary' format. But it's certainly one of the best. With an edgy and original spin on the possession film, Inner Demons manages to stand out from it's contemporaries. Director Seth Grossman was the right man for the job as his background in documentary style story telling manages to capture the disingenuous nature of reality shows that capitalize on the struggles of others. One can only assume he was able to draw on his background as a producer on the actual reality series, Intervention, as a basis for his filming style, and it goes a long way to making the movie feel believable. Available in select theaters and on iTunes and VOD. This one is definitely worth your time.
The movie follows a production crew working on an Intervention style show, as they film an episode centered around young Carson Morris. In high school, Carson devolved from an A-Student into a hardcore drug addict. And as she descends further into the grips of addiction, her parents turn to a reality TV show to try to help their daughter. While filming some background on her, one of the cameramen discovers that Carson believes that she is possessed by an evil spirit and that getting high is the only thing that keeps it under control. Of course her theory is met with skepticism, due not only to her addiction but the supernatural elements of the story as well. So at her family's insistence, she reluctantly agrees to enter a rehab facility. At first things seem to be going fine, but as the drugs slowly leave her system, Carson feels less and less in control of the darkness inside of her. And in the end, her condition begins to blur the lines between drug addiction and demonic possession.
As a director, Grossman really adds some plausibility with his non-invasive shooting style, it lets the action play out in an extremely naturalistic way. Frankly, it actually feels more realistic than some actual reality shows. As I said before, there are no shortage of 'found footage' films this year, but the reality of the situation is that it's just a more cost effective way to film a movie. So instead of maligning the style, I would rather embrace it and hope that the directors who take this approach at least try to put a unique spin on it. And Grossman does just that. Working off of an inventive script by writer Glenn Gers, the two compliment each other extremely well. The basic premise is actually pretty simple, but the film is full of twists and turns that keep you engaged until the very last frame. And that's saying nothing of the gut-punch that he delivers in the final act.
The acting was outstanding from the entire cast, but none so much as newcomer Lara Vosburgh as Carson. She possesses a quality that makes us feel instantly empathetic toward her. And as the film progresses she tackles the emotional and physical transformation head on, to the point where we don't know whether we should feel sorry for her, or fear her. This was an absolutely stellar performance.
Kudos to the film makers behind Inner Demons, who manage to successfully push both the found footage style and possession film in interesting and imaginative new directions. I look forward to seeing their work in the future and hope the writer and director will collaborate again. In the meantime, go see Inner Demons. It's a refreshing look at what can happen when we allow indie-horror film makers the chance to break the mold and try something new. Cheers.
- Leo Francis