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By Merle Bertrand | July 19, 2000

The big question that comes to mind when viewing “The Tiger Inside” is “Why?” Not, “Why would someone kidnap, torture, rape and murder forty-six young girls?” It’d be impossible to find a satisfactory answer to that question. No, the question is why this idea so enthralled director Neal Stevens that he went to the trouble of writing and shooting this fictional interview of an actor pretending to have done such horrific crimes. That’s all there is to this rudimentary, and ultimately pointless, as it turns out, video: one single camera recording the titular interview.
Arthur John Woodhill (Ed Clark in a VERY creepy performance) is the killer; a bluntly crude but seemingly normal enough guy…except when the subject turns to women. Particularly anything that has to do with their mental and physical abuse, humiliation and degradation, as Dr. Charlene Barnes (Judith Faison) finds out during the course of these interviews. Supposedly conducted in 1993, the last session just days before Woodhill’s execution, these freewheeling conversations give Woodhill time to provide details on his childhood, recall his mother’s death, and, in exceedingly detailed and graphic terms, describe the events surrounding several of his gruesome murders.
This would all be revolting, of course, but nonetheless involuntarily fascinating in a gawking-at-the-scene-of-an-accident kind of way…if it was real. Thankfully, it’s not, thus undermining whatever morbid fascination lies in looking into the eyes of a beast such as this. To be sure, there are hints that this is fictitious. At times, you can see Clark’s acting seeping out; the beats time out a little too perfectly to be real; the moments when Dr. Barnes becomes overcome with revulsion are too melodramatic and on-cue.
Still, while Faison’s Dr. Barnes is over-acted, Clark’s portrayal of a hate filled murderer is as purely malevolent as it is excellent. If this guy’s a method actor, here’s hoping he can extricate himself from this monster of a character fairly easily, because he had to visualize and describe some truly horrific things. If not, I certainly wouldn’t want to be a woman stuck in the same room with him.
Releasing “The Tiger Inside” would have been exploitative or at least in dubious taste even had it been an authentic interview. That it’s all a big put-on simply eliminates the gray area, placing it firmly in the disturbingly tacky camp. The only thing the two actors in “The Tiger Inside” are killing is time.

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