Just outside a small Florida town, Joe (Joe Abby) has been contracted to drill for geological samples for a university study. When he digs up something that has the consistency of brown ogre snot, he ships it off to the university. Unfortunately, he also got it on himself, and being basically a slob, doesn’t bother to clean it off before he goes back to town, goes into a diner where he has a crush on a waitress named Maria (Tanya Memme) and spreads the crap all over the place, including the pay phone. Joe has also taken up alcoholism as a hobby apparently because Maria already has a guy she’s seeing, that guy being Allen (Corey Feldman) who comes down to visit her as often as he can. When he shows up this time though, he finds that things are a little different than he expected. Now Maria, Joe, Maria’s friend Susie (Susie Feldman) and an ever increasing number of people in the town have become infected by the geological sample, which causes them to at first become irritable and seriously depressed, but then quickly takes the full effect, which is to make any pain they experience turn into intense feelings of pleasure. Naturally, this eventually leads to self mutilations and even suicides. Now that Allen, Joe and Maria have figured out what’s going on, most of the town is already dead, or headed in that direction, and they have to fight the depression and the urges to hurt themselves in an effort to figure out a cure.
When the student who was doing the study at the university is infected and ultimately mutilates himself to death after spreading it to other students, a Department of Defense undercover agent at the university heads out to the town to secure the location and make sure there are no survivors. When he tries to kill the three by causing a gas leak in the house they’re all sleeping in, Joe wakes up and drags them out of the house, and it’s then that they discover the gas has cured them. They catch the DOD agent, and soon the town is overrun with emergency services there to help. Unfortunately, another DOD agent comes in and secures the sample. But hey, at least three people in the town survived. That’s something…right? Hell, Joe wasn’t even from there. He had come down from New York after getting the contract. Wasn’t really worth the trip was it?
Terror Inside has the look and feel of an independent film, which is largely to be expected, because it is one. This is most apparent in the scenes where Allen is in his home office. It’s rather spartan with little attention to set design. Fortunately, this wasn’t a constant issue throughout the movie, and all the other settings come off far better. Still, some extra attention to set design would have gone a long way to alleviating some of that "independent, low budget" feel.
The story in this film, oddly enough, is plausible I suppose. Corey Feldman has been acting since he was a kid, and while the quality of his acting has largely stayed the same over the years, it’s neither improved much, nor gotten worse. He’s a decent actor, who when given a good script, can make a good go of it. While the script for this film isn’t awesome, it’s not horrible either, and his performance in the film reflects that. He’s just ok in this one. I think it largely had to do with his character being less than fleshed out in the script, which didn’t allow him to really become the character. He feels like someone playing a character rather than feeling like the character he was playing. Joe Abby had the same problem, only in his performance, it was more apparent.
Tanya Memme, who I remember from the old Directv commercials and yet had never seen in a film until now, did a great job with her character. You really got the feeling watching her that she was fighting against the urges the infection was causing, occasionally losing out to the depression or the urges to inflict injury to herself. It was an impressive performance. She’s changed in appearance as well. I didn’t even recognize her until I saw her name in the credits, and even then it was a stretch. If you can remember back to how she looked in those Directv commercials, you’ll be surprised to see how much she’s changed.
Joe Abby was actually the weak link in the trio of main characters. His performance nearly always felt less than genuine, although some scenes were better than others. I think this may have been due to a lack of professional acting experience. He’s been in several big name films, but only as an uncredited extra. According to IMDB, this is the only role he’s had where he actually played a character. While he wasn’t horrible, he wasn’t great or believable either. Throughout the movie, I felt like he was playing a character rather than giving the feeling that he was an actual person. This, for me anyway, detracted from the overall feel of the film.
Susie Feldman played Katie, the local hairdresser. She was a friend of Maria’s and one of the first in the town to become infected. She, along with Tanya Memme were probably the two strongest performers in the film. She did an amazing job with the role and delivered what was generally the best performance in the film. That is, until she dropped herself into a wood chipper and got splattered all over a wall. Both her and Tanya Memme really saved this film with their performances. If not for them, I’d have to suggest you give this one a pass.
The gore and mutilation effects in this film were all quite well done, with the exception of the scene in the church where most of the people had killed themselves by cutting their own throats. Most of those throat wounds looked the same. That scene could have definitely used more variety in the gore and mutilations. Still, the overall look of it was well done, and the fact that people were mutilating themselves in a variety of different ways, often created a palpable tennsion as you waited to see what they were going to do.
The film itself is generally well paced and technically well made, except for the set design critique I made above. It’s not fast paced, but never really feels like it’s dragging either, at least, not to the point where you feel the need to start playing with the fast forward button. The best way I could describe it is that it feels like a movie you’d see on Chiller on a Saturday afternoon. Not bad, but nothing special. Something to watch when you’re bored.
Is it worth seeing? Sure. Is it worth going out of your way to see when you have better films at your disposal? Probably not. For me, it was a one time watcher. I don’t feel like my time was wasted with it, but I also don’t feel enriched by the experience. It was ok. That’s about all I can really say about it.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.terrorinside.com.