Inner Ghosts would have been a sure thing back in the early aughts when the PG-13/soft-R spectral horror craze was in full force with movies like The Ring and The Grudge. In 2019, however, after the Saw and The Conjuring franchises have helped to advance the notion of modern horror, Inner Ghosts feels like it arrived a little too late to the party.
João Alves’s contemporary vision of maternal horror centers on Dr. Helen Stevens (Celia Williams), a university professor whose research involves attempting to examine the souls of people who no longer have any brain function. The hope is that, through Helen’s work, groundbreaking innovations will be made in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Of course, Helen, like most academics, must navigate the bureaucratic waters of her host university, here in the form of her boss, Dr. Steinman (Norman MacCallum).
“…whose research involves attempting to examine the souls of people who no longer have any brain function.”
Before testing her theories on humans (a process which would take years), Helen elects to conduct a battery of tests on ghosts, an undertaking she is aptly suited for as an experienced medium. Like any good fictive protagonist, Helen comes to her research by way of a personal motivation: her young daughter, Lilly (Patrícia Godinho), committed suicide years ago, and Helen has been keeping a protective eye on Lilly’s afterlife existence ever since.
Aiding Helen in her ghostly pursuits are her research assistant, Rachel (Iris Cayatte), a clairvoyant who hasn’t quite graduated to the level of full medium, and Elsa (Elizabeth Bochmann – Williams’s daughter), a local artist who has been plagued by a demonic presence for years and seeks Celia’s help in chasing the demon away.