DEF2 REVIEW: WITHIN

Bradley Parker is not a fan of horror films, but on Saturday he saw withIN. He still isn’t a fan of horror films.

withIN
Written & Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
(Deep Ellum Film Festival 2005 — reviewed by Bradley Parker)

While horror movies have never been something I really enjoy, I felt compelled to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Deep Ellum Film Festival and try one out. Suffice to say I made a big mistake. withIN has not changed my mind one bit about my dislike for horror films. Make no mistake though, withIN was not a bad film because it was a horror film, no sir. withIN was just a bad film period.

Set in a newly discovered cave system in Kazakhstan, eight intrepid spelunkers, or ‘seekers,’ set out to unearth the mysteries that lie in wait at the bottom of this never-before-explored cave. This adrenaline-junkie team line-up reads like a litany of stereotypes seen in most other films of this sort. Of course there is the fearless leader with the soul-haunting secret, and his gung-ho, ‘shoot-first, ask later’ sidekick. Also included is the team medic, who happens to be the leader’s scorned ex-lover, and the sage-like one-with-nature mystic. Rounding out the pack is the ‘new guy,’ who is not who he claims to be, two Russian guides, and my favorite type of character, ‘the other girl.’

What happens next, as you can imagine, is the team gets trapped in the cave and picked off one-by-one in a series of off-screen disembowelments, eviscerations, and impalings. But what exactly is causing all the carnage? We are lead to believe, thanks to the sage-like mystic, that this cave has a spirit and a soul, and is none-too-happy about being violated so demonstrably. But, in keeping with the new-horror trend set by the likes of Scream, this is sadly not the case.

Too many times I was taken away from the movie by the choices in camera technique or lighting made by the director. The bulk of the film was lit only by the lanterns affixed to the helmets worn by the characters. While it was probably intended to create a more realistic, and increasingly tense, film, it muddled up any possible attempt at comprehending the action of the moment. Likewise, the camera angles were used, in my estimation, to create feelings of disorientation for the viewer, but instead only managed to have me wondering, out loud at times, ‘Why is that camera upside down?’

The resolution of the film proved not only to be markedly absurd but also pointlessly brutal and graphic (even for a horror film), especially when I noted three other distinct moments that could have book-ended the film just fine. The current ending is contrived and mindless, and one could argue, insulting. And at the risk of insulting the rest of you, withIN is a film I could do withOUT.

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