The Dead Inside (2011) – By Baron Craze


When one thinks about a true niche sub-genre in horror, the rarest gems fall into horror musicals, namely the most common and rightfully The Rocky Picture Show (1975). However, others existed, such as Little Shop of Horrors (the original and remake); Sweeny Todd (2007) and The Nightmare before Christmas (1993) just to name a few for some depth, and understanding of the power of the larger budget does not elude the productions. While, Travis Betz’s The Dead Inside, falls into the much lower scale it holds a steady position, with similar films VP Boyle’s Lifeless and Brett Kelly’s My Fair Zombie, it strives to reach a larger audience thanks to a release on Monarch Home Entertainment. This is not Travis’ first venture into either horror movies or the musical genres rather his first and fairly well received horror film was Joshua would later return with Lo (2009) proving there is life in the category of horror and musicals, which is evident to the success of a stage performance of Evil Dead the Musical. Nevertheless, the film lacks terror, and slides nicely into a comedy with interesting highlights centering more in drama and the elements horror residing in madness and a loving couple of zombies.

The story opens with the zombies, Harper and Max desperately seeking entrance into a room, with an ordinary door, in dull home, that holds a witch, which might have the cure to their curse existence as zombies. Soon enough the dilemma breaks into verse and they begin to sing, and soon after search the home for answers, and skimming through novels, though their rotting brains have no solutions to their feeding crisis. Although, calm and able to have moments of romance, along with deepening retrospective examination of their existence and lives in general. Suddenly the camera shows a woman, Fi (Sarah Lassez) sitting in front of a computer, and the audience learns that she’s suffering from writer’s block, a true starvation of the mind and the progression of her book series The Dead Survive.  Sadly, she’s spiraling into madness, singing the strangest string of words possible to blaming everything from colors of walls to furniture for the problems. She works on construction odd homemade interior forts from various items, as a means escape from the world and crawl into her mind, yet discovering a borderline self-induce schizophrenic delusion filled with demonic possession. However, her anchor and boyfriend in this world Wes (Dustin Fasching, who starred in The Wicked Within (2015)) has his own issues, and not working to keep Fi in check to reality, as his life of a photographer reduced to tiresome wedding pictures just to pay the bills. Both Lassez and Fasching, complete their roles with believability and Sarah gives a credibility reliable viewpoint of the issues of writer’s block, struggling of the putting words on a screen, to pounding a keyboard in anger and how it mirrors zombies, mumbling, staggering in circles, incapable of higher order thinking.

Travis also served as writer of the screenplay, and tendencies to transitions to singing appear when the storyline of parody and deadpan humor begin to sputtering to an exhausting stoppage of the storyline, and begin switching to various genres for a new path.  At times, one feels trapped with a location shoot, and sadly that comes from only the budgetary constraints, the audience quickly understands the layout of the home. It does not work for very long, nor conveys a claustrophobic fear translating to the confines of the mind, especially when she stays at a mental hospital none is shown only spoken about the sake of viewers. This storyline, works well for the first act, bogs down for a weird second act and then staggers for a finishing line, with a clipping of scenes similar ‘pick-up shots’ with a sense that a conclusion must find itself very soon.  A good point of reference, for the movie the special effects, which come highly admired, and limited screen time to work effectively when applied to the screen, especially regard to the zombies, severed of fingers.

Musicals in genre in the world of cinema fall into a market where a many individuals often they dragged to one, with their feet shuffling and almost to the point of a temper-tantrum of a two-year old child; it pertains to a very small audience especially in the horror genre. In fact, some movies work on the subject but avoid keeping the entire movie in music verse, even with demons, possessions, and zombies, overall Betz’s story and film makes the subtle points to watch out for the mental breakdowns and the dreaded plague of writer’s block.