Within Review

Within tells the story of a young girl named Rachel (Mia Ford) who can see evil spirits. For a child who has just witnessed the murder of her mother, this is somewhat of an unfortunate ability to say the least, but despite these traumatic visions she remains a sweet and good-natured girl. When Rachel begins school in a new town, she reluctantly accepts a hand of friendship from the class bully, Michelle (Sammi Hanratty) whom it does not take Rachel very long to see is possessed by an evil spirit of her own. Within is not nearly as affecting as its spooky predecessors like The Sixth Sense or The Good Son - both indisputable influences - but you can’t quite write it off as another low-rate ghost flick either. Due in large part to the performances of the two young stars, Within is a spooky thriller that has just enough tenderness to keep you interested.

As many scenes of the movie involve some sort of interaction between Rachel and Michelle, a large part of its success hinges on the abilities of the actresses (ages nine and eleven at the time of filming) which fortunately are about as pitch-perfect as one can hope from a child actor. Hanratty so perfectly captures the petty, manipulative nature of Michelle that you want to reach into the movie and shake her just about every time she’s on screen, while Ford exudes sensitivity and pure lovable-ness as Rachel.

The behavior and dialogue between the children, however, is what is truly memorable about Within. The film does not fall into the trappings that so many child-centered stories do by making its characters exaggeratedly precocious. They talk and brag and dare each other as ordinary children would. At times, they make extremely foolish decisions that can be frustrating for a viewer to watch, but we know that as a child we probably would have done the same.

Ultimately what stops Within from becoming anything great is its lack of style. To tackle the all too familiar terrain of the supernatural thriller, the audience has to feel that chill down the spine and while Within is likely to hold a great many people’s interest, it is far from chill-territory.

"Within" is on sale August 27, 2011 and is not rated. Horror, Thriller. Directed by Hanelle M Culpepper. Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine. Starring Sam Jaeger, Sammi Hanratty, Mia Ford.



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