Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From Within (2008)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest III.

From Within

Now here's a movie that surprised me. It's hard to get a feel for a film from just a poster and a quick synopsis - even trailers are often misleading. So I wasn't sure what to expect from this film. What I got was an interesting story of good vs. evil in a suburban setting with a summery "Sunday morning service" kind of atmosphere. The town featured is a very religious town, which takes care of their own, but is especially vindictive towards those who prefer to follow different spiritual beliefs.

In a nutshell, a gothy pagan initiates a curse which presents itself in the form of a string of suicides jumping from each victim to the next, as a form of revenge against the town which wrongfully burnt his mother, believing her to be an agent of Satan (or, if you like, a witch). The struggle plays itself out between the strong-faithed residents and the misunderstood pagans (of which there are only a few). And I think the film does a fairly good job of making the point that a person's faith doesn't make them good or bad, but their choices in life do, as there are villains and heroes (arguably) on both sides.

Watching this film as a pagan, it's obviously pure fantasy, in terms of the curse, but getting past that, it's quite enjoyable. And wow, hey, the high school kids actually looked like high school kids for once! The setting of the film is a suburban-like area, but with woods and a lake, which looks very nice. And the whole religious character of the town itself really plays a large part in setting the mood of the piece. It almost has a retro "family values" kind of feeling to it which, despite my penchant for exploitation cinema, is refreshing in a way. And of course, it's still a horror movie, so there are some creepy scenes, too.

For me, it was especially satisfying watching the pastor's son turn into such a jerk and a creep on account of his passion for god. But like I said, the film doesn't seem to make any kind of statement about religion itself, but more about the people who follow it and the path they choose. I thought it was a very enjoyable film, and it deals with issues that are close to my heart, being something of a misotheist myself.

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