Sometimes being a horror fan is an unrewarding experience. It is a genre awash with low budget, badly made crap. As a reviewer you get sent various films you've never heard of and a high percentage of them are a major chore to sit through much less review. Consequently when Within dropped through the letterbox my expectations were low and so it was a major surprise that it turned out to be highly entertaining, supernatural fun.
The film opens with a young girl and her mother shopping for dinner. Rachel is able to see evil spirits and the angry guy that serves them in the store seems to be possessed by a particularly nasty one. Her mother is shot dead and we cut to a small, leafy town. Rachel's dad has whisked her away from the perceived evils of LA to start a new life in sleepy suburbia.
Her first few days are difficult as she struggles to come to terms with her mother's death and fit in with a new batch of kids. After being quite nasty to her a local girl called Michelle suddenly decides that Rachel will be her new best friend, whether she wants to be or not. If you thought things were awkward in Rachel's home it soon becomes apparent that Michelle's family are far more dysfunctional. It's obvious they have more than one skeleton in the closet.
Events build slowly with the odd creepy moment as Rachel sees the ghost of a young girl hanging around Michelle. Her new pal is pigtails and smiles on the surface but what lurks within seems to be a grasping malevolent evil. Some hope shines upon our miserable young heroine in the shape of her new teacher Abby, who also serves as a ready made love interest for Rachel's father. The trouble is no one puts much stock in the apparent delusions of a damaged kid and Rachel is left to battle Michelle alone.
Within stirs together a mixture of supernatural clichés and ghost stories. While the plot definitely has weaknesses the action is absorbing because it is well paced, nicely directed and features some impressive turns from a cast of unfamiliar talent. The two lead girls are excellent and they need to be because the script asks a lot of them. Mia Ford gives an emotionally mature and understated performance as Rachel and Sammi Hanratty is wonderfully loathsome as Michelle.
There are no cheap scares here and nothing to capture the interest of gorehounds. Instead we are treated to a well made production which never outreaches the budget. It might be a bit slow for some people but it raises enough questions to hook you in and homicidal children make terrific horror villains. Within is the best horror movie to come through my door in months. Admittedly the competition has been pretty dire but this still gets enough right that you can easily turn a blind eye to the weak spots and it deserves an audience.Short Review
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