Monday, November 29, 2010

Burning Inside (2009)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5

Burning Inside has the look and feel of a midnight movie with more than a few stylistic cues taken from the weird and wacky David Lynch. But don't let that scare you off (if you aren't a fan of his work). The film isn't muddled by some of the odd imagery the aforementioned filmmaker typically employs. Instead, you get that style of film along with some striking imagery which makes sense and fits within the film, given the context of the subject matter. And overall, what you're left with is a fresh and interesting take on the classic revenge tale.

Our film begins with a nurse caring for a man, his medical chart clipped to his bed identifying him only as John Doe. During the prolonged opening, in no words merely actions, you get the sense that this nurse has cared for him for a long time as she gently shaves his face. Further special care is witnessed when she kisses his forehead which causes the previously comatose man to instantly awaken.

The doctor and a psychologist both work to try and snap the man out of his silence, both by jogging his memory and using child nursery rhymes as a means to get some sort of response. The latter, it's explained, sometimes helps people as childhood memories will spring forth and illicit some sort of reaction. But their efforts are met with no avail. However, things turn one day when John Doe paints a striking mural on his hospital room wall of two crosses staked into the ground with a lush field surrounding. The nurse takes this as a break through and leaves him with a pencil. After a near fatal, self-inflicted stabbing, the nurse comes under fire from the doctor. She soon leaves the confines of the hospital with John, making their way out to the countryside that was featured in his mural.

John and the nurse show an immediate closeness. After a stroll through the countryside, we are taken to the (presumably) old residence where he used to live. Despite an incomplete picture of who he is and how he came to be under the care of the hospital for over a year, John is quick to take the nurse as his wife and start a new life in the home. It's also (in rather short time as scenes quickly come together) revealed that she is pregnant.

But the new life is all shattered one day when John comes across a video camera in his storage shed and plays the footage. We see what happened to him and his previous girlfriend and we start to piece together other scenes which are interspersed throughout the picture. A group of local gas station owners and attendees are responsible for putting John in the hospital and we find out that a far more gruesome fate befell his girlfriend. John begins in on seeking his revenge, leading up to the final act as he exacts the last bit in rather brutal fashion. But you're then lead to question 'Is all of this really as it appears?' as another series of flashbacks occurs and our film concludes.

I mentioned earlier the striking imagery employed in the film and my review wouldn't be complete without mentioning it. Crosses play a large part: in John's hospital room, his mural, and in his home. You get the sense that there is a righteousness about what he is doing, no matter how horrific his actions. Also a part of the story, is an overhead light which shines within his hospital room. You get the feeling, as it shows up consistently throughout the story as well, that the light is illuminating a bit of who he is as he comes to figure things out. Secondary to that, the way the light is shown before it is lit, almost looks like a door's peephole. I don't know if it was intended or not but I got the sense that it provided a 'means' for us (as the viewer) to stare deep into his soul and psyche.

Gripping and enthralling, Burning Inside is an incredible achievement through and through. If you are looking for something different and far from the norm, you won't go wrong.

For more information about the film, including how you can purchase a copy of it or rent it via iTunes, check out its website:

Cortez the Killer


The Mike said...

Whoa, this looks wicked. I'm on it.

Chris Hallock said...

Glad you liked this, CtK.

I'm a huge fan of the aesthetic, and even though I'm sure Nathan is tired of the Lynch comparisons, it is fitting.

Burning Inside qualifies as a great nightmare captured on film.

Cortez The Killer said...

@Mike, let me know what you think. Me thinks it's up your alley.

@Chris, that is one thing I struggle with as a writer and critiquing the works of others: comparing it to something else which the filmmaker may have not intended at all to resemble or draw upon. I only mean to do it to relate to others in the 'selling' of my liking of a particular film, if that makes sense. I only bring up Lynch's name in aesthetic. The film itself is wholly unique and original on its own merits. And yes, a total nightmare captured on film. I couldn't look away.

Chris Hallock said...

James, I didn't mean that as a negative against your writing at all. I made the same comparison as I've seen others do.

Maybe Nathan loves the comparison. Who knows?

Cortez The Killer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cortez The Killer said...

Oh, I totally didn't take it that way, my man. I was just more or less commenting on the challenge of critiquing film when it resembles others that have come before it, not really knowing the true intent of the filmmakers.

The comment was born out of another filmmaker, who, awhile back, told me they hated the comparisons I and others have made regarding their film.

nwrann said...

Thanks for taking the time to watch, think about and review Burning Inside.

Since I see the "Lynch comparison" conversation going on, I figure I'll drop my 2 cents in.

I was very aware of the potential inevitable comparisons to Eraserhead that would arise from the aesthetic. I decided on the stark black and white and the locked down "silent movie" camera look during the writing process. The background sound came to me during shooting it when I was looking at the images while everyone was quiet on set. I couldn't imagine it playing out while music swelled and filled in the background. I wanted the audience to be intently aware of what was going on on the screen, rather than have them influenced by manipulative music cues. It's much more unsettling that way.

I thought long and hard about the inevitable comparisons and struggled with worry about the possible backlash for it, but in the end decided that this was the only aesthetic that worked for the film and regardless of how I shot it it would inevitably be compared to some other film. I'm glad that you are able to note the similarities but ultimately allow the film to stand on its own unique feet.

Once again, thanks for enjoying.