Horror movies are allowed to get away with a lot. They do not have to be very original and do not need to have the best story or acting. If a horror movie is violent and gory enough fans of the genre are willing to overlook a lot. They’re Inside from DREAD goes an entirely different route. The movie focuses on telling a story over providing a spectacle. This makes it an engaging watch with one of the most powerful finales of the year.
The film opens with a familiar premise. A group of friends are filming a movie at a secluded house in the woods. The director’s sister, Cody, is also making a behind the scenes documentary. A group of friends out in the woods recording everything they do is a recipe for trouble. Sure enough, the cast and crew soon realize they are not as alone as they first thought.
They’re Inside tells a deep story that builds over the course of the entire movie. This is not a horror movie that sets up the situation, introduces the killer, then starts killing off its cast. The film moves at a methodical pace that allows the audience to get to know everyone involved. There are no character archetypes and Cody and her sister Robin are clearly the focus of the film.
Many times, films will be chastised for not providing enough character development. Writer Schulyer Brumley does an excellent job of giving They’re Inside just enough life. Brumley seems to purposely go against common convention by not fully developing the supporting cast. However, they never become boring or seem inconsequential. On the contrary, the lack of deep backstory make them seem even more important. Their lack of depth allows Brumley to give deeper characterization to the sisters.
They’re Inside takes full advantage of this and provides two of the most well rounded characters seen in a horror movie. This is a film that shows the bond between two sisters. There is anger, hostility, love, and concern. The story also does a great job of making the audience fear the two sisters for different reasons. It is rare to see this much development in characters in any movie – much less one in the home invasion genre. But that is exactly what happens in They’re Inside.
The story is very powerful but the careful pacing may turn some people off. They’re Inside takes its time developing the relationship between Cody and Robin. At times, it is a narrative driven tale and it is very nuanced. The movie is violent and uncomfortable, but these moments are spaced out in a way that maximizes each moment. There is no wasted movement in the film.
This patient storytelling leads to an incredibly effective payoff. During the final act of the film, the story gets chaotic and it can be hard to follow. Throughout the movie there have been hints that someone may know a little more than they are letting on. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that things are not as simple as the They’re Inside lets on. The final moments of the film are shocking but also leave the audience with a discomforting sense of satisfaction.
Though it is not technically a found footage movie, They’re Inside has some of the miscues that are associated with the genre. There are many moments that are see scenes shot from mobile devices. This is normal and should be expected from a movie set in modern times. That being said, there are plenty of times when it would be odd to be filming. Most people do not use their camera phones to record while they are running for their lives.
This is all becomes almost negligible thanks to how creative the movie is in other ways. The music choices are spot on. This leads to a tense atmosphere that constantly keeps the audience on edge. Each moment in the movie is meaningful and nothing is done just for the sake of it. They’re Inside is one of the most genuinely frightening movies of the year.
They’re Inside is more than just another home invasion movie. This uncomfortable thriller is a strong character study that will engage the audience from the opening. Using creative direction and storytelling devices, it is a movie worth going out of your way to see. At that point, it is only a question of whether you are brave enough to stick around until the end.