Jeff Mahler’s Inside creates an ultimate problem for most traditional viewers. There is no clear protagonist, nor is there a defined antagonist either. It’s a story about a son who has lost his parents and parents who have lost their son. Only this son and these parents don’t belong to each other.
Alex (Nick D’Agosto) is a lonely library employee coping with the loss of his parents. This abandonment drives him to focus on other people’s lives more than he should be. When he notices that a married couple keeps checking out the same book over and over, he decides to follow them home to see what their lives are like. Think of Alex as a nonviolent stalker if you will. Only when he decides to creep up in their house during an argument, he is spotted and instead of them calling the cops, they invite him for dinner instead.
Then the tables turn. Alex quickly learns that the couple is mourning the loss of their son who just so happens to look like him. An accident then leaves him trapped in the household and the couple decides to reeducate Alex into thinking he is their dead son. Curiosity is a karmic bitch.
Inside is the feature film debut from director Mahler (who also wrote and produced the picture) and it’s definitely a noble effort. Do we sympathize with Alex, a boy trapped in house he wishes to leave? Or, with the family giving Alex a bit of his own medicine? He shouldn’t have snuck into their house; yet, they shouldn’t have kidnapped him either. It’s this conundrum that keeps the story interesting. The editing is where the only real problem of this film lies. A little more tightening here and shortening there could have really given this film more of the thriller edge it feels like it was working towards, only it never quite made it.