LAFF 2014: Inner Demons
The words “twist on the found footage genre” are among the most cringeworthy you’ll find in a movie review these days. If anyone has found any new way of twisting found footage it’ll probably be laughably implausible, and since the found footage subgenre is already a twist on traditional filmmaking, can we all just agree to stop trying to bend it any further? Inner Demons is not a twist on found footage, it is not even found footage done well. Introduced by Linda Blair and screened predictably on Friday the 13th at the festival, the film is from the vantage point of a TV crew putting together an episode of Intervention around two parents at their wits end to get their heroin addicted daughter back to normal. After interviewing the parents and daughter (under the guise of this being an informational video on drug addiction) and vaguely investigating the girl’s background and snobby friends at an elite prep school, they stage their intervention and get the reluctant Carson (Lara Vosburgh, who has a Fairuza Balk look about her) to agree to enter rehab. Her interactions with the young and impressionable cameraman Jason (Morgan McClellan), recently hired to the show, reveal that her addiction may be how the disturbed young woman suppresses an even darker side of herself. A few days in rehab and on the road to being clean, Carson’s condition becomes notably worse, and clearly isn’t just withdrawal. Jason’s research into demonic possession, and the secrets her so-called high school friends are keeping, lead him to believe Carson’s problems are much harder to cure than rehab. Her early release from the program to be with her family leads up to an uninspired standoff between the self-serving TV folk and the drug-free and fully possessed Carson.
With almost no bona fide scares, other than the discomfort of being screamed at unexpectedly, this horror movie contains very little to be afraid of. Instead, there were notably more laughs than gasps heard throughout the film. Rather than allowing the possession angle to be slowly revealed it’s obvious from the get-go what is going on with Carson, we’re just somehow supposed to think maybe she’s wrong. But if that were true, this wouldn’t be a horror film. Stock characters abound: a predictably bitchy Hollywood producer, a prima donna host, a lovestruck straight out of film school camera boy, and uptight religious parents. Possession and found footage have been blended a number of times already and not only does Inner Demons have nothing new to add, but makes one wonder how any horror director who (presumably) has a passion for the genre could consider that angle worth pursuing. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that even in our constantly plugged-in society, anyone is really taking the time to film every little thing they do. To give the film some credit, I appreciate when anyone — even unintentionally — pokes fun at society’s reality TV obsession, but in this case the mashing of two well-worn horror subgenres only makes it twice as annoying that the film couldn’t do either of them well.