The Scoop: 2011 NR, directed by Travis Betz and starring Sarah Lassez and Dustin Fasching
Tagline: Dig Up Your Heart
Summary Capsule: Horrifying circumstances provide two creatively unsatisfied people with the inspiration they’ve been craving, but at what cost?
Heather’s Rating: A whole plate full of delicious doggy legs.
Heather’s Review: So it’s October and I’m once again living in a part of the country where people ooh and awe over how colorfully the leaves are dying and deeply inhale the scent of decaying plant matter while talking about how wonderful it smells. Everyone is super into death for myriad reasons this month, especially the cinephiles like you and me, and most choose to indulge in the macabre via their favorite spooky films. I found a new favorite a few years ago in the fantastic demon love story Lo, which I reviewed a few years back. Now I’d like to take a minute (just sit right there) to tell you about indie director Travis Betz’s most recent film, The Dead Inside.
I won a free copy of the movie in 2013 via a contest on the film’s Facebook page, and I showed my gratitude by steadfastedly neglecting to review the film for over a year. In fact you may have noticed that you haven’t seen me around the site at all for a while *insert brilliant reasoning and excuses here*. Well I see no better time to rectify this than a few days before Halloween, because nothing says “Hey, I’m still relevant” like jumping on the bloodspattered bandwagon. With candy. I have so much candy to give out if you’ll say you still love me and forgive me…I’m talking full-size chocolate bars here.
The Dead Inside is an intriguing concoction of a film. It’s a musical, a drama peppered with comedy, and a clever horror story that surprises you with it juxtaposition of lighthearted jabs at the zombie genre and genuinely creepy moments that will have you a bit hesitant to close your eyes when you hit the sheets. I hesitate to go into more detail because this movie is made up of layers that I am loathe to peel away, lest I ruin the surprises underneath. What I will say is that you’re going to want to get ready for your emotions to be stretched out on a rack.
The story goes as such: Fi and Wes are an artistic couple (writer and photographer, respectively) struggling with dissatisfaction in their professional lives. Fi’s the author of a zombie series that she can’t seem to move forward with due to her writer’s block. Wes has a talent and love to express himself through photography, yet he spends his days shooting weddings to pay the bills. He watches helplessly as Fi’s mental block turns into mental illness before finally revealing a sinister force that causes him to make some incredibly difficult decisions to keep their love (and his mind) together.
The cast, made up entirely of Sarah Lassez (Fi) and Dustin Fasching (Wes), is fantastic. They are incredibly fun to watch as they go from witty to adorable to tortured and at times menacing. Oh and let’s not forget the singing. They both have beautiful voices, and hearing them harmonize together always gave me little happy feet in my heart. The story (and writing) is captivating, humorous, tragic, and intelligent in the way all the little plot threads tie together. When I watch a film by Travis Betz I always get the feeling that he’s having an absolute blast with the project, and that enthusiasm carries over to me as an audience member.
That being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one particular setback I had while enjoying The Dead Inside. I invited two friends of mine over to help me out with this review, because full disclosure: I am not a fan of musicals. I love some, but overall I’m not a good person to ask for an unbiased opinion of something where people are dancing around and singing apropos of nothing. My friends, on the other hand, very much are fans of the genre and so I feel more comfortable telling you that our opinion of the music here is that it was serviceable, but not great. It wasn’t bad at all, and it certainly never made me feel as though I was having to grit my teeth or roll my eyes through any of the songs (happens often with me and musicals), but nothing was all that memorable either (except for maybe “Love Song for a Zombie Apocalypse). Lyrics would go from being super clever and impressive to feeling forced and unnatural just for the sake of having a rhyme. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only complaint that the three of us could come up with for this film.
We laughed, we gasped in surprise, and in one particular scene we nearly cried. Travis Betz made me think differently about what indie films can be and I can’t stress enough that if you aren’t usually a fan of the genre then you should give his movies a try to see if he can change your mind, too. TDI is an entertaining and memorable film, and I highly recommend that you check it out.
- Has any couple in history not argued about the temperature of the shower?
- Best boyfriend ever? Not if you’re suggesting Monopoly, you aren’t!
- Fi’s desktop background is a still from the original Night of the Living Dead.
- Pretty sure that was the director playing the part of the priest.
Fi: I’m very sorry, but can zombies use chainsaws?
Wes: That bad, huh?
Fi: We shall only speak of it in inside the fort!
The words “Happy Birthday” hang above the window…
Wes: Sorry, they didn’t have any “Welcome Back From The Nuthouse” banners.
Wes: Don’t go having any aneurysms while I’m gone.
Fi: I promise to only have them in front of you.
Wes: That is a twisted promise.
Fi (singing): “This is not your body/There’s no room in my skull/So exit how you entered/I am in control!”
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