Ginger Nuts of Horror
INFERNAL? OBVIOUSLY NOT.
INFERNAL is well worth watching.
A young couple Nathan (Andy Ostroff) and Sophia (Heather Adair) have moved in together into a home Nathan built which is almost complete. Sophia tells Nathan that she is pregnant, the interaction right from the beginning is realistic and endearing, I liked them, as a couple they work well, which is why it’s such a strong film. With a plethora of ‘creepy child’ movies available it could easily be dismissed as another routine horror, however this one is something quite different.
We are whisked rapidly from the initial opening to a rushed wedding which is revealed through ‘Wedding video’ footage taken by Nathan’s best friend Stan (Jose Rosete), a bit of a rogue and a fun guy. It all seems a little slow and hardly like a horror at all with the first 15 minutes all loving and gentle. It’s at this 15 minute stage that we first see the baby, or to be more accurate Sophia giving birth, to be quite honest I laughed out loud at the dialogue and this again is revealed via video camera. It soon appears to be the way the whole story will progress, this makes it all seem more natural as there are no fancy setups, the camera doesn’t always point at the focus of the scene and isn’t level. The ‘home movie’ style is occasionally irritating though as there are some instances in which the camera would be superfluous or in a real world scenario actually in impedance and I’m more used to traditional productions, but that’s just me, anyone who routinely watches ‘found footage’ films will have no problem at all with this.
Jump forward 8 years to a discussion about Imogene (played by both Alyssa and Kyle Koerner) attending her first birthday party, Imogene is Autistic; she functions well enough with relatively few of the clichés usually attributed to autistic children. She is insular and somewhat addicted to repeatedly brushing her hair but in general appears to be a happy enough child, especially when bonding with her father.
25 minutes in and still nothing outstandingly malevolent has occurred, it’s all a slow-build, Imogene wanders off at the party, but nothing bad comes of it. The next time she wanders off is quite different, she sleepwalks and is found outside late at night, bloody, but with no wounds.
Nathan and Sophia buy a ‘NannyCam’ to keep an eye on Imogene. There’s a lot of discussion in this film, not only between the principle characters but also with a therapist, it all seems very normal, two parents dealing with life as a married couple looking after a child with ‘emotional difficulties’. Half an hour in and things are getting weird, with wild dogs casually strolling around the house and strange noises from the loft space.
The cracks are soon showing in the relationship between Nathan and Sophia, gradually levering them apart, the tension and arguing is realistic and does an admirable job of shifting the attention away from potential horrors. In an attic room right next to Imogene’s room things are taking a turn for the seriously creepy, with muted laughing being the least of the problems. It’s something of a slow-burner, setting up the scene for what I can only imagine to be the sort of nightmare any parent wishes they would never have.
So far things aren’t sounding particularly horror-ish, but it is, it’s just in a different way to what we are generally served. I think it’s a very clever film to keep the viewer teased by small and seemingly irrelevant details via conversations in home movies, and it’s certainly more watchable than the majority of the ‘unexplained phenomena on video cameras’ movies we’ve seen so many of in recent years.
On my third viewing (I usually watch everything three times before commenting) the film was still as initially endearing as before, it still built the tension slowly, surely and realistically using the cameras to great effect and even raising a smile or two in all of the right places, such as what I could best describe as a ‘musical interlude’ , the soundtrack in general is used to great effect and as it is emulating reality as seen through home movies there’s no traditional ‘score’ such as incidental music which normally indicates approaching nastiness.
When things do go seriously pear-shaped it’s subtle, the evil is palpable, this isn’t a ‘Blair Witch’ situation in which everything is implied, this is taking the element which made that film successful and throwing in something truly horrendous. Each creepy happening is more insidious than the last as it builds to a denouement satisfyingly twisted.
The night time scenes in Imogene’s room are perfectly lit, no harsh lights, nothing fake, just enough light to see ‘something’ without making out too much detail.
Even watching this in broad daylight is atmospheric, so alone in darkness is highly recommended.
The entire cast are flawless, with a special mention to the child star(s) of the film Alyssa and Kyle Koerner as Imogene who show exceptional restraint in some truly memorable scenes including a couple of ‘Bloody hell’ moments toward the end of the film.
Released this month it is a must-see for anyone wanting a tense horror, I highly recommend it.
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