Ready to have your mind warped and your emotions rattled? Then buckle up for It’s What’s Inside, the dizzying directorial debut from Greg Jardin. This genre-bending thrill ride premiered at Sundance, leaving audiences exhilarated but also scratching their heads.
The basic premise seems simple enough: a group of college buddies reunites for some raucous pre-wedding partying. But when a shady figure from their past shows up uninvited with a mysterious suitcase in hand, things take a hard left into psycho-surreal territory. Let’s just say the “game” inside sparks some serious identity crises, unleashing simmering jealousies and buried secrets.
Before you can say “horror-comedy-mind-trip,” these friends are questioning everything they thought they knew about themselves and each other. It’s a chaotic explosion of shifting perspectives and unraveling realities.
Now I’ll be straight with you – this flick is wild. The plot borders on incomprehensible at times. But Jardin’s kinetic directing style sweeps you up in the madness. It’s a thrill just trying to keep up as he whips the camera around his attractive young cast. The visuals dazzle, the emotions cut deep, and the laughs come fast and furious.
Strap in tight, because It’s What’s Inside is one bumpy, crazy ride into the darkness within. Just don’t expect to come out the other end knowing which way is up.
Peeling Back the Layers of Friendship
At its core, It’s What’s Inside is less about horror and more about the messy complexities of friendship – how easily grudges can form, facades can crack, and relationships can curdle when insecurities swell.
It all starts innocently enough with a pre-wedding reunion at a Gothic mansion. The college crew swaps stories over wine, reminiscing about the good ol’ days. But simmering below the surface are hints of resentment, jealousy, and secrets yet unrevealed.
Things really pop off when the black sheep of the group arrives unannounced. Shady figure Forbes shows up with a suspicious suitcase in hand, which turns out to be a high-tech parlor game. Suddenly perspectives are shifting as fast as identities. Strictly speaking, the “game” allows players to temporarily inhabit each other’s minds and bodies. But metaphorically, it also catalyzes some serious soul-searching about who these friends really are behind the social media filters and public personas.
As the night wears on, facades gradually crumble to reveal ugly truths. Motivations blur, allegiances realign. It’s a rapid descent from playful reminiscing into psychological chaos. All the simmering tension boils over as characters forcibly expose one another’s hidden desires, deceptions, and thirst for petty vengeance.
At times the plot gets downright convoluted trying to juggle so many unraveling story threads. Just whose mind is in whose body? Who’s setting traps for whom? But that’s also part of the squirmy fun – getting contorted by the movie’s warped reality and questionable logic.
More than anything, It’s What’s Inside captures how quickly close friends can become intimate enemies once superior smirks turn suspicious. Jardin pokes and prods at the most vulnerable bits of friendship – jealousy, resentment, insecurity – until facades crack and darkness seeps out. This crew will never look at each other the same way again.
A Cast Ready to Bare Their Souls
While the plot may twist your mind, it’s the talented cast that really drives home the emotional guts-punch. Kudos to Jardin for assembling a crew ready to expose the ugliest bits of humanity.
Leading the pack is Brittany O’Grady as the insecure Shelby. She’s the emotional anchor amidst the chaos, and O’Grady deftly captures her fraying psyche as deep-seated suspicions about her boyfriend Cyrus come bubbling up. Speaking of, James Morosini oozes sleazy charm as the philandering Cyrus. Just when you think he’s hit rock bottom, Morosini finds another layer of sliminess.
The excellent Alycia Debnam-Carey also stands out as sultry influencer Nikki, who’s achieved internet fame by carefully curating her image. But when the curtain falls, all her ugly insecurities and jealousies spill out. Debnam-Carey seems to relish portraying both sides of Nikki.
Of course the cast MVP is David W. Thompson as the sinister gatecrasher Forbes. With his ratty hair and leering grin, Thompson exudes a creepy charm that keeps you guessing about his true motives. He stirs the pot masterfully.
The rest of the troupe leans into their vain, vapid characters with aplomb. You’re not meant to like these jaded millenials much, but the actors ensure you can’t look away as their cunning schemes spectacularly implode.
By the end, nobody is left unscathed. The cast bravely exposes the petty jealousies and deceitful desires hidden beneath even the closest friendships. It’s raw and squirm-inducing, but you’ll respect the performers even more for their willingness to so nakedly bare their souls.
Directorial Debut Brimming with Style
Greg Jardin makes one heck of a first impression as a feature director. His background in music videos is evident in the poppy visual flair that amplifies the movie’s manic energy.
Jardin’s camerawork is dynamic to the point of dizzying. The camera circles and swoops with a restless energy, matching the turbulence of the characters’ unraveling lives. When tensions mount, Jardin relies on rapid-fire editing to further disorient viewers.
He also crafts some stunning individual shots – like a gorgeous overhead view of the mansion courtyard as the players gather to begin their fateful game. The Gothic estate makes for an atmospheric setting, and Jardin knows just how to stage his attractive cast to maximum visual impact.
Color is used adeptly to underscore the shifting moods, from vibrant neons as relationships spark to sickly greens and grays as things deteriorate. And the costume design pops with period-perfect outfits. Nikki’s skintight leopard print dress sums up her lifestyle persona – daring yet calculated.
It’s an assault on the senses in the best possible way. Between the camera pyrotechnics, in-your-face music cues, and popping visuals, Jardin crafts a world of sensory overload – woozy, chaotic, and hypnotic.
While the complex plot threatens to spin out of control, Jardin’s confident hand at the helm pulls us through the looking glass into his neon-soaked madhouse. It’s a dazzlingly stylish descent into the darkness.
A Genre Mash-Up Primed for Cult Status
It’s nearly impossible to pin down It’s What’s Inside into any one genre bucket. This sucker blends sci-fi, horror, thriller, and comedy into one mind-bending smoothie.
There are traces of Kubrick in the psychodrama, sprinkles of De Palma in the sensibilities, and a healthy dollop of Dan Gilroy in the nightmarish satire. But at its core, It’s What’s Inside feels closest to Halina Reijn’s 2022 hit Bodies Bodies Bodies. Both provide warped reflections of Generation Z and skewer influencer culture through a hall-of-mirrors horror lens.
Yet Jardin makes the form his own through sheer stylish verve and a commitment to controlled chaos. This is a director reveling in his own ambitious weirdness.
For those who savor genre mash-ups that keep you guessing until the very end, It’s What’s Inside will go down like a tall glass of spiked punch at the party of the year. It’s tailor-made for the midnight movie crowd and seems destined to gain a rabid cult following.
Just don’t expect it to ever fully make sense. But that’s entirely the point – sometimes you just have to lose yourself in the madness and enjoy the ride.
A Puzzle That Doesn’t Always Fit
For all its neon-soaked style, It’s What’s Inside isn’t without some narrative flaws that frustrate. The most glaring issue is the overly convoluted plot that seems to collapse under its own complexity. There are so many shifting character perspectives and crisscrossing relationship dynamics that it’s hard to maintain engagement. At times it feels like trying to watch five soap operas simultaneously – an overload of tangled storylines.
Certain character motivations also feel underbaked, making it hard to connect to the emotional stakes when identities start splitting. The pace rockets so furiously that key personality transitions happen in the blink of an eye.
It doesn’t help that most of the characters are superficial and unlikable. We’re clearly not meant to be rooting for these vain social media drones. But a bit more nuance in the characterizations could have lent some contrast to balance out the ugly behavior.
Some plot points also seem to come out of left field, or resolve too neatly and quickly considering the complexity of the premise. There’s a sense Jardin bit off more than he could chew for a debut feature.
So while the visual razzle-dazzle often papers over the plot holes, they remain distractions from what could have been a tighter psychological thriller. Still, it’s hard not to admire the big swing Jardin takes, even if he doesn’t fully connect. For a first-time director, it’s an audacious slice of mind-melting genre-fusion.
One Wild Ride Worth Taking
For all its knotty flaws, It’s What’s Inside remains an enormously fun flick carried by style, spirit, and dedicated performances. It may not hold up to logic, but it doesn’t really matter when the sensations come this fast and deliriously.
I’d recommend it in a heartbeat to any genre fans hankering for something excitingly different. While the story unravels a bit, the visual feast and numbing pace hardly give you a moment to care. Just sit back and let the crazy wash over you.
And if the hall of mirrors premise intrigues, you’ll find plenty here to dissect afterwards about the lines between identity, perception, and reality. It’s an ambitious mind-bender that tries to be a philosophical character study within the wrapper of a sci-fi head-trip comedy.
Not everything gels in the end, but Jardin emerges as a director to watch. For a wild party movie-slash-psychological thriller, you could do a whole lot worse.
So gather some friends, pop some corn, and enjoy the ride. It’s What’s Inside is one bumpy, freaky thrill that will leave your brain delightfully tied in knots. Once seen, not easily forgotten.
It's What's Inside
Despite narrative flaws, It's What's Inside remains a stylish, ambitious thrill-ride for genre fans. Jardin emerges as a promising new directorial talent.
- Stylish and energetic directing by Greg Jardin
- Strong visuals and editing match the chaotic tone
- Committed performances from the cast
- Creative, genre-bending premise
- Effective blend of comedy, sci-fi and horror
- Likely to gain a cult following
- Overly complex, convoluted plot
- Hard to keep track of shifting character perspectives
- Superficial, unlikable characters
- Ambitious story unravels at times
- Some underdeveloped plot points