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I don’t typically like roasting films in my reviews because I try to dig deep in finding aspects that are worth a decent discourse. So this is definitely an instance where I am scraping the barrel here. I’m so sorry but WITHIN directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper is a story about a young girl wrestling grief after a life changing loss and trying to pick up the pieces by moving to a new town with her father, but things to go over so easy.

People lack a sense of warmth in this world and its really disheartening especially for a very young girl who lost her mother. What’s more troubling is seeing the evil lurk within people especially if it’s your friend. For a moment WITHIN totally feels like a play on the SIXTH SENSE, but doesn’t deeply achieve the theatrics of creeping you out exactly, instead it feels more like its floating into a contemplative state of uncertainty. I feel like it lost its way, but perhaps it wasn’t going for the generic recipe that you generally see in horror films. Grief and guilt are definitely some components, but also why was there no attempt in building a back story into any possible explanation as to why Rachel (Mia Ford) sees evil within others? This is what made the film feel hollow, like a balloon caught in the power lines.

Don’t get me wrong the beginning had a great, strong build up, it just failed to keep the pace but also is unfortunately an example of bad storytelling. The idea had potential, just needed more work and for the love of all that is holy the make up on the ghost girl just made me cringe in horror. Not the “I’m terrified” feeling but the “how could you not blend the paint on her face”. Come on!

Its also such a weird circle of evil and death, coexisting not as something that’s blatantly based in reality but in the nature of those living such as with Michelle. She’s clearly a bad seed in the family but this was after her sister had died, who was also an evildoer. So it just gets passed on with no real explanation? And Rachel being the new kid in town his friends with Michelle but can see the evil she’s doing but fails to act on getting her help? She just lets it fest and linger until nearly kills everyone she interacts with. Am I getting this gist of this mess?

If I can find the best qualities in this film, I have to hand it to Michelle (Sammi Hanratty) who becomes Rachel’s friend but is very much the evildoer in this tale of hardship. She’s even a bully who is too young to be blackmailing her only friend for stealing the teacher’s lipstick. Nonetheless, her acting is pretty impenitent and convincing. So bravo to her and also Rachel because she’s the character with the moral compass and bridges the world into a peaceful state after a whirlwind of drama and marginally, below average thrills. I hand it to the actors and their performances as its what kept me partially interested. If there’s anything to learn from this film, don’t be friends with bullies. Just run the opposite direction and always believe the color on your mood ring when you’re feeling off.


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