From Within wound up being one of those movies. I have watched it three times now and still kind of love it to pieces, and so will more than likely purchase it if I can manage to save up some cash for the purpose. Anyway, since I can't seem to write what I think of it and why in essay format, a bulleted list of what I did and didn't like about the movie. But before that, quick summary
A rash of suicides is happening in Grovetown. No one knows why, but suspicion soon falls on the Spindle family, because the mother was a reported witch and supposedly caused a boy to off himself in the lake that may or may not be by the Spindle's house. Because of that completely unshakeable evidence of her crime, Mommy dearest was burned for what she may or may not have done by the good, religious townsfolk, and they are set to do the same thing to her son and his cousin (the other son lead off the suicide parade). Leading the charge against the boy and his cuz is Dylan, who is a bit unhinged and believes that God is calling him to cleanse the town of the evil of the Spindles. He is seventeen at most and is throwing off seriously psychotic vibes a la Isaac from Children of the Corn. For some odd reason the whole town just blindly follows this crazy ass kid. It's kind of great. Anyway his very recent (as in as recent as Dylan's crazy manifests itself in the movie) ex Lindsay befriends loner Spindle Aiden, which makes Dylan even more eager to bust a cap in said Spindle's ass, and when the weird suicide bug gets inside of her, she finds that she must - with Aiden's help - figure out what is happening to her town and stop it before she decides to do a 'goodbye, cruel world' of her own. And my summary makes it look like a horrible movie, but it really, really isn't. And now, the list!
The yay (in no particular order)
+ The creepy vibe. The first scene sets the mood, and it does a lovely job. Boy muttering to himself while his girlfriend watches, then boy and girl kiss. Aw, right? Yeah, until boy pulls out a gun and offs himself. Cue bloody, terrified girlfriend running through the woods clutching the book boyfriend (Sean, his name is Sean, okay?) was reading from before his mouth met the business end of a revolver. And okay, you can't quite get this until you've seen the entire flick and know the big reveal, but how awesomely horrible is it that this dude chose to start the curse with his girlfriend? He didn't try to warn her or get her to leave. On the contrary, he invited her out to spread his suicide disease like the newest STD at a frat party. Compare that with Ade doing his best to get Linds to get the fuck out, get out now, and it makes me wonder if maybe brother Sean wasn't the bigger asshat of the two, after all...
+ The acting. The two leads, Elizabeth Rice and Thomas Dekker, in particular, but really stellar performances from all the supporting cast. The weakest acting comes from ANTM rejects Amanda and Michelle (the twins, you know), but they are only on the screen for a couple of minutes total so it can be ignored. Also, I totally want to jump Aiden, dude. Seriously, if it were me, I wouldn't have taken even half as long as Lindsay to make out with the guy. I'd have been all over the dude in about five seconds. Trust me.
+ Though it would be easy to make this a cautionary tale about the evils of fundamental fanatic Christianity, it manages to stay away from that. How? Quite simple. Everyone is a monster. There is no clear right or wrong side because everyone acts reprehensibly. On the Christian side we have the pastor: a man willing to let an innocent women burn for something that wasn't her fault so that he can avoid admitting to a homosexual tryst with one of his parishioners; Dylan, a boy who uses his religion as an excuse to ostracize a family and commit murder; Roy, who believes that God told him to kill people who don't believe; Trish, who is willing to participate in exorcising her stepdaughter of demons she doesn't have and preaches morality while guzzling whiskey every day she isn't at church; and the assorted townspeople who follow crazy ass Dylan in his need to have everything the way he wants it. On the other we have Sadie, perfectly willing - even eager - to see an entire town burn while at the same time ranting that their religion and the subsequent actions produced by it were wrong. Actions that are about the same as what she has helped engineer, only on a smaller scale. Aiden, who had the brainstorm to make the town pay for killing his mother, gets his brother to commit suicide for it, then has a change of heart as soon as a pretty girl pays him some attention. Sean, who not only gets the ball rolling, but works it so that the first person to experience his family's revenge is someone he's supposed to at least like, if not love. The only person who is portrayed in a positive light in this film is Lindsay - and really, she serves as the catalyst for Aiden's change of heart, and in the end even she can't escape being sullied, as she is forced to kill Dylan to save her own life.
+ Little gore. LOVED that. The movie carried on without blood spurting every five seconds, which is no mean feat, considering the subject matter. I mean, there were new and inventive ways for everyone to bite it, up to and including scissors in the throat, and there was also a very very unpleasant moment where Roy burns Sadie alive, but there was nothing that screamed blood and violence just for the sake of having it. This gets major kudos from me.
+ I. Want. To. Jump. Aiden. This bears repeating. It kind of worries me that here's this guy, right? And he looks like he hasn't showered in a week - no, really. The hair, it is greasy, the face, it is scruffy, and the T-shirts, they look kinda...dingy - and oh, yeah, HE WANTS EVERYONE TO DIE, has found a way to make that happen, and instead of putting his master plan into action HIMSELF, convinces his YOUNGER BROTHER to do the whole SUICIDE bit instead, only to render that sacrifice freakin' USELESS when he finally meets a girl who makes his naughty bits tingle and decides, 'well, that was a fuckin' mistake. Guess I'll just undo that bit of spell work, me', and what is my reaction? "I WANT"
+ Have to admit that this twist I didn't see coming a mile away. I mean, I knew that there was going to be one, there always is, that's a horror movie staple, but for once I didn't see what was going on from about five minutes into the film. It took about ten, and trust me when I tell you, from me, that is amazing. (Only movie that ever really got me was The Sixth Sense, and I feel no shame in admitting this. It was also, coincidentally, the only M. Night SfuckitifIknowhislastnameon movie I've liked)
+ Speaking of twists, I love the ending. Love, love, love. The chain of suicides reminds me strongly of the beginning of Ginger Snaps, and that is ALWAYS of the good, for that movie is made of awesome.
+ I really liked the ploy of making the suicide spread one person at a time, whoever was closest to the last victim contracting the disease, bit. Kinda like a cold. If a cold made you kill yourself instead of sneeze. I also liked the doppleganger stalk bits. Heh. Sounds like a new hit dance move. Hey, kids! Don't be shy! Get on that dance floor and do the Doppleganger Stalk!
+ The cousin. Okay, so she turns out to be a psycho. Doesn't change the fact that she had some of the best lines. "Hey, look, somebody likes us." Also doesn't change the scene when Linds is freaking the fuck out because she has the sui-cold, and while she is pacing back and forth and hyperventilating, crazy cuz keeps hitting properly 'ominous' keys on the piano until glared into stopping by Ade. Then when the two kiddos run upstairs and she flips around and starts playing a dirge of sorts. And later when Linds is beginning to puzzle out how the curse started and she is playing with some sort of animal skull, putting it over her face like a mask and giggling to herself. It's immensely entertaining, is what it is, and I loved it.
+ Don't know if I have mentioned this, but I want that Aiden kid. Hoo-boy, if this is what comes of my viewing Disney and RomComs, I think I need to have a serious talk with my brain, because it is taking away the wrong message. That said, that Dekker kid does have great eyes. And as Ade he's so deliciously angsty with them. And his mouth looks really, really soft. Though I am pretty sure that it is a character crush only, as I have seen the Dekker boy in other roles, and he's never really done it for me before. Plus I think I remember hearing that he might be gay or something, and I find it weird to perv over gay men, just as I feel odd perving over married men, or men that I once knew as boys. Except NPH. He owns my soul and I would gladly have his ridiculously talented babies. And I digress.
Before I really lose the plot, the not-so-yay
- ANTM models foray into acting? Hilarious, but seriously, obviously sub-par when compared with the rest of the cast. Really.
- The beginning. While awesome, it made me laugh and laugh. Not because of all the death and blood or anything twisted like that. No, it was because I kid you not, when I saw the two people at the beginning I really, honestly thought they were brothers. And then they kissed and I was all, 'huh. So it's one of those movies." But then one turned out to be a girl, and it wasn't one of those movies. They do look painfully alike, though.
- I get that Aiden and Lindsay had a 'connection'. She reminds him of his dearly departed mum and she feels that he needs someone to talk to, and wants to be that person. Sure. Right. Okay. Doesn't change the fact that these two know each other for all of TWO DAYS, ad suddenly Ade's life makes sense, roses bloom in the winter of his existence, he sees the sparkly light, killing is wrong, and he's willing to DIE (something he wasn't willing to do to START the fucking thing) to save Miss Linds and make things right. Balance the universe or some shit. Yeeeaaah. All I'm saying is that it looks kind of pathetic from the outside, that this dude folds for the first girl to smile at him all pretty-like and pay him some attention. It would have been better, in my opinion, if they'd somehow known each other before the plague of suicides (I think that was the 11th one, but Pharaoh folded before it got that far) began. My personal preference would have been that they knew each other when they were little, were maybe even friends, but townsfolk and death pulled them apart...but really anything would have sufficed. Even the smallest bit of back story. Oh, well.
- The last Ade/Linds scene. It took waaaaaay too long, yo. And it was ridiculously overblown. It should have ended right after the kissing bit, without all the sobbing. Seriously, during that bit I actually got the giggles, and something tells me that wasn't what the scene was going for.
So there you have it. I would love it if this encouraged someone to watch the film, but it is very scattered and I wouldn't be surprised if it had the opposite affect. Also I am not sure if anyone actually reads this. Either way, I had fun making my list, and really, in the end that is all that counts. :)