IT LIVES INSIDE *** USA 2018 Dir: Jeff Hall. 89 mins
At the root of much modern American horror are the mundane everyday problems none of us can escape, the kind of banal money worries that keep many up at night and indeed make it difficult for the young family in THE AMITYVILE HORROR to immediately flee the house of their dreams (nightmares).
Jeff Hall’s film follows the emotional fracturing of a young husband / father (Rett Terrell) who swallows his pride when forced to stay at home looking after the baby while his wife (Alissa Rose Ford) earns essential cash working for his resentful mother in law. Their new home exhibits signs of a long dormant evil after he ill-advisedly reads aloud passages from an ominous book (“The Inuit Burden”) found in the attic, but just as pressing are concerns about missing mortgage payments, late fees and the increasing need to borrow cash from said mother in law just to stay afloat. Hall positions this scenario as a universally familiar one, reflected by the generic character names (“The Man”, “The Woman” and “The Mother”). Subtly he blurs the ordinary with the supernatural: the frustration of a neighbour’s dog digging up the garden turns sinister, while his son’s mysteriously sustained physical injuries expose either domestic violence or a brutal other-worldly force. Although marred by uneven performances and sub-par audio, this deliberately paced indie sustains a sense of menace without relying on the instant gratification of hokey false scares and tidy resolutions. The downbeat ending is the kind of realistic outcome alien to its mainstream contemporaries, and at the heart of the story is an empathetic portrait of a guy who feels he is selling his soul, not to some basement-dwelling demon, but to the smug in-law who has always resented his very existence.
Review by Steven West