2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Film Review: Inner Demons

Inner DemonsHeroine addiction is typically perceived as a cry for help. But what if that cry for help is not from their addiction? What if their addiction comes from fighting an all-consuming evil that exists within?

It is freighting to contemplate the possibility that instead of helping the addict you love, you are allowing the darkness they have been secretly fighting to take over them. This is the premise behind Seth Grossman’s new film Inner Demons.

Inner Demons is the story of a young girl named Carson (played by Lara Vosburgh), a teenage heroine addict with desperate parents (played by Colleen McGrann and Christopher Parker) who want their straight-A, Bible quoting daughter back. Their concern leads them to seek out a reality-television show that documents addiction, rehabilitation and recovery to help Carson overcome her dependence on heroine and prescription narcotics.

The producers of the documentary, the doctors and fellow patients involved, and Carson’s parents get more than they initially bargained for when Carson embarks on sobriety. Primarily concerned with the need to get ratings, the producers exploit her claims of evil and darkness as a ratings boom while her doctors see it as a metaphor for her struggle with drug addiction. Only one of the production assistants, Jason (played by Morgan McClellen), believes that there is something much darker at work. Amid skepticism and caution against becoming more involved, Jason takes matters into his own hands as Carson becomes more violent and deranged. As he uncovers the hidden truth, Jason witnesses the evil demon that resides inside Carson.

While perhaps not the most original means of telling a horror story—Inner Demons is a possession movie done in a found-footage style—Grossman’s execution showcases his excellent skills as a filmmaker. The premise is refreshing and allows the audience to make an emotional connection with Carson and sympathize with her as a victim, both as an addict and victim of possession.

Vosburgh’s performance as Carson is disturbing and twisted. She is clearly a talented actress and does not shy away from approaching a complicated role. Her ability to transition from eerily catatonic and blissfully stoned to relentlessly violent and horrifyingly evil is quite remarkable. Coupled with Grossman’s direction, together they turn what would otherwise be an ordinary film into something distinct. Vosburgh brilliantly embodies the intended metaphor of possession as mental illness and the necessary escape that drug abuse provides her.

Grossman wonderfully ties Carson’s possession with drug addiction and mental illness and it eventually personifies sadistic, animalistic violence. Typical fans of horror films may be less enthralled with the slasher-esqe conclusion or the metaphor within the film. Some may find it a bit much to blur the lines between mental instability, addiction, and possession for the main character and the narrative. The metaphor speaks louder than the horror and ultimately comes down to personal preference of how much fright you want in your movie. Its exploration into Carson’s dark side is compelling in itself and makes the film an intriguing allegory, though perhaps not as scary for some dedicated horror fans.

Inner Demons is not perfect, but it certainly is a well executed film and a testament to Grossman’s filmmaking and Vosburgh’s acting. Her ability to portray the range of emotions associated with addiction and withdrawal while simultaneously embodying a victim of possession is impressive. Grossman’s pacing builds wonderful tension and intrigue to keep the audience waiting to see the evil emerge from Carson. Clever instances of humor make the characters human and relatable compared to typical dull horror film characters.

For who desire a little more depth and thought in their horror films, this is a film certainly geared toward your taste.

Inner Demons – Grade: B+

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Aaron Zamora

Aaron grew up in Whittier, California and is currently finishing his master's degree in Human Communication studies from California State University, Fullerton. His interest in journalism began in high school where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for his school’s newspaper and participated in their inaugural broadcast journalism program. An avid world traveler, Aaron has a wide array of interest that include a passion for cinema and television. He is also a sports fanatic.

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