FTP: They're Inside (2019)

JULY 13, 2022


It's been a minute since I watched a found footage movie (assuming I logged them all here, the last one was Paranormal Activity 7, back in November), so I want to thank They're Inside for reminding me that when done well, it's a technique I do rather enjoy. It's a shame the marketplace was glutted by so much crap after the first PA, because there's seemingly unlimited potential to make it work within any sub-genre, not to mention the ability for literally anyone to compete due to the inherent lo-fi nature of the gimmick (unlike the similar slasher boom of the early 80s, where you'd need a proper FX guy and usually a memorable location to keep up with the Halloweens and Friday the 13ths). As a result, I *still* feel my heart sink a little when I realize something's going to be a POV film.

But this one mostly works just fine. It helps that there's a genuine reason to be filming most of it: our heroes are making a movie and one of them is collecting footage for the behind the scenes. Sometimes it's her camera we're seeing it through, sometimes it's the camera that's being used to film the movie itself (seemingly every scene they shoot is interrupted by something strange happening outside, a creepy visitor, etc), and eventually it's mounted hidden cameras that the killers have placed around the home. I didn't quite buy the reality of this aspect; some of these shots seem to be from cameras that there's no way the characters couldn't notice, but if it's the alternative to the documentary girl filming everything even when things get hectic, I'll gladly take it.

The only other issue is that it is, basically, "The Strangers: Now In Found Footage", which I'm sure has probably been done before anyway (I don't keep track of this stuff as well as I used to, but Strangers and the FF boom both came in 2008/9, so combining them HAD to have happened before, right?). The filmmakers acknowledge it on their commentary, so it's not as mercenary as it might have felt a decade ago, but it still leaves you with seemingly unnecessary deja vu from time to time. Luckily, while their masks/demeanor are similar, they don't share the "because you were home" randomness of their actions - there's a legit reason for them to go after this director. It's delivered in a somewhat clunky way (without spoiling, they basically have to rearrange the chronology of the film's events at times in order to prevent having a 15 minute exposition bout at the end), but as with the mounted cameras thing, it's a lesser of two evils deal.

Plus, it's genuinely well made! Not something you can say about a lot of these movies, but there are several moments where I was impressed with the filmmaking, in particular a lengthy (nearly ten minutes, I think? With only one cleverly hidden cut) shot featuring not one but two graphic on-screen deaths that had me actually wondering how they pulled it off without the ability to cut away. There are other surprisingly gruesome deaths in the film (outside of the commentaries, the main bonus features are two of the actors having their heads cast with plaster - guess what for?), so along with the genuinely creepy nature of the whole thing, it actually makes for an effective mini-slasher, found footage or not.

With a few less contrivances in the script this would stand as a must-see, but even as is, it's one of the better examples of a reality-based found footage film, proving you don't need ghosts, witches or Cloverfields to justify the approach. Also, BECAUSE the last one I saw was Paranormal 7 (which was ultimately crippled by being forced into it), it was nice to be reminded that the POV style doesn't have to be a crutch or something to actively try to get away from as long as you take the time to brainstorm some workarounds. Good stuff.

What say you?

P.S. I truly hope this isn't necessary, but trigger warning: the film occasionally discusses - but thankfully does not show - a woman who was sexually assaulted by her father when she was little. Icky af, but more than that, given the current news re: Roe vs Wade and how some states apparently feel that sort of thing doesn't qualify as an exception, I can see how it might be far more upsetting than any of the traditional horror elements.


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