"You coming home, honey?"
"Not to you."
Every week, there are seemingly hundreds of movies and other programs that go directly to video. Most of movies that have their debut at your local video store are utterly lousy or, at best, mediocre, but sometimes, a pretty decent - and sometimes even great - film somehow slips through the cracks and makes its red carpet debut in your living room.
Such a film is "The I Inside", a small thriller starring Ryan Philippe ("Cruel Intentions") as Simon, a young man who gets into a terrible accident and nearly doesn't make it through the operation. When he wakes up, he does not remember the last two years of his life. Memories are blurred, Simon is seeing things and the girl he loves (Sarah Polley) tries to help, despite the fact that he doesn't remember her - or the other woman who claims she knows him (Piper Perabo). The doctor at his small hospital (Stephen Rea) doesn't have much experience, but tries to lead him through his journey to find the clues to his missing years. Is someone after him? What year is it? Does he really have a wife? Is he suffering from delusions, or are people in the hospital messing with him? I won't spoil any other surprises.
Philippe has been good in small roles, but he's at his best here portraying a totally disoriented man who's running to catch up with his past, consistently one step behind the answers. His performance makes the well-written mystery tale even easier to get engaged in - and I found this to be an almost entirely unpredictable film. Beautifully shot and looking like it is working with a bigger budget than it is, I can't understand why the film didn't get any sort of theatrical release.
Sometimes, good films don't get the respect they deserve, and "The I Inside" is a prime example. There's some minor story flaws and plot holes, but that's not totally unexpected in a totally twisty film like this. Otherwise, the picture moves along swifty and smoothly, with great twists and a terrific location - a modern hospital that somehow is made to look stark, empty and rather creepy. This is an absolutely terrific thriller, and a really great surprise.
VIDEO: "The I Inside" is presented by Dimension Home Video in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film's original aspect ratio. The picture quality is generally very strong as the picture looked consistently crisp and well-defined. Some minor shimmering was present during a few scenes and some minor edge enhancement was seen, but those were the only two issues with the presentation. No pixelation or print flaws were spotted, and colors remained subdued, but appeared accurately presented.
SOUND: The fim's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was good, if not remarkable: surrounds kicked in for some sound effects and ambience, but the majority of the soundtrack remained mostly forward-oriented. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and effects.
Final Thoughts: I'd love to know the story why this film never made it to theaters (I'm guessing maybe because the somewhat similar "Butterfly Effect" made it first, but the films are more than different enough that that shouldn't have been an issue), because it's an absolutely superb paranoid thriller, with a great lead performance. There's some holes and the ending doesn't quite work, but it's still very involving throughout. The DVD doesn't offer any extras, but it boasts good audio/video. A very highly recommended rental, I'd definitely suggest picking "I Inside" up at your local video store.
The Film *** 1/2