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From Inside
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by Jay Seaver

"Ah, animated misery."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: On the one hand, I'm glad something like "From Inside" can get made: A feature-length (if just barely) animated feature that represents one man's unique vision, with no interest whatsoever in the family audience. On the other hand... Good lord, this is grim, to the point where even the folks who like their darkness might wonder why they're putting themselves through it.

The world has ended, our narrator Cee (voice of Corryn Cummins) tells us; she and other survivors are on a train, and have been so long that she can't remember getting on. Cee has been given her own cabin, as she is the only pregnant woman on the train. The landscape is hellish, and the conditions on the train are bad enough that she sometimes has difficulty telling the difference between her life and her nightmares. She considers the question of whether or not it is right to bring a child into the world quite a bit.

Filmmaker John Bergin goes to dark imagery right away, with engineers using pitchforks to feed babies into the burner. He gives us actual seas of blood, for instance, which is kind of over the top but serves to point up just how continually unpleasant things are. While Cee is drawn pretty, most of the other passengers and engineers are stylized and grotesque. It's a pretty constant stream of unpleasantness, and maybe could have used a little leavening, especially considering how beautiful the sequence where Bergin allows a little joy to enter the film is - enough so that there was a combination of laughs and groans when the pendulum swings the other way.

The visuals of the movie are varied - Bergin did almost all the work by himself, with the film based on his graphic novel, and while the train is very obviously digital, other elements (such as Cee) appear hand draw. Many of the early parts of the movie especially use fairly limited animation, perhaps too limited in the early going, but the styles are fairly eclectic throughout. Thankfully, it never becomes a mess, and he makes good use of sound, as well. The narration is also interesting; the simplicity to Cee's sentences, along with Cummins's contraction-free, slightly shell-shocked readings, gives an idea of just how traumatic the situation is.

After a certain limit, though, such unrelenting grimness is little more than wearying. "From Inside" is only seventy minutes long, but spends so much of that time on one note that it can be rather too much by the end.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17599&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/15/08 15:55:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Independent Film Festival of Boston 2009 For more in the Independent Film Festival Boston 2009 series, click here.

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Directed by
  John Bergin

Written by
  John Bergin

Cast
  Corryn Cummins



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