Monday, October 22, 2012

From Within. (2008) Phedon Papamichael

The curses continue in October Chillers.

This is the story of Grovetown, a small "little big-town," and all its people who are religious and yet flawed, and it's a story about the majority (Christian) imposing their values (sometimes through force) on the minority (some version of Wiccan - however, having had a few pagan friends, I am certain it's more of a movie type of Wiccan, rather than the real thing).

It's an interesting film, to me, in two very different ways:

The first is because there are quite a few films out there like it: R-rated, but still aimed at the teen crowd, with a rather typical story line about a curse and the accompanying deaths that are soon to follow. Hmff. Nothing new. Still, perhaps I'm old-fashioned or not as jaded as I sometimes I think, but the idea of an R-rated movie marketed toward a teenage audience still kinda fascinates me.

But what lies just beneath the surface is the really interesting thing about From Within. If it is indeed aimed at the teen crowd, the ones who still see those R-rated films, then it might be used as pre-college curriculum for sociology, the kind that resonates with teachings on the importance of diversity and inclusiveness, like the popular bumper sticker on the back of more than a few cars:

This is the story of what happens when we fail to do so.

"This town takes care of its own," is the mantra spoken by the son of the local preacher. Words like these can either be used out of anger, or out of protection. If there were an outside force that was an actual danger to Grovetown and its people, the words might be seen as quite protective. But the words are used against a small pagan family, a family who wishes to practice their faith and be left alone.

But they can only be pushed so far. And when the mom of that family is either murdered or killed in an accident - which side of the story you get depends on which side of the faith you're on - the family's curse brings her back to life, where her ghost reeks havoc on the townspeople, one by one.

The most interesting thing about the story's intent, which is to tell us to be tolerant, which I firmly believe to be true, is how it develops in two particular characters who, about two-thirds the way through, make key confessions in revealing their own flaws, their own contribution to the curse. A character from each side admits to his own wrong actions. And both characters wish they could go back and change things. Both would rather have peace than the horror they brought down on all.

A little preachy? Yes. Does the writer here have a point and seem angry? Yes. Is it a good message? I think so. But you can still see through it pretty easily.

But even with that hidden inclusive nugget layered into the blood and the killshots and the ghosts and the gore, the writer here is still missing what I find to be the most important point:

Sometimes I think that the group that faces the most prejudice today isn't the gays or the Christians, or the blacks or the Jews. It's not the Muslims or the women or the rich or the poor. When I see so many films that make a "witch" out to be this awful, I feel sorry for the Wiccans out there who would rather be better portrayed. I doubt there are too many teenagers who have even learned about the  Wiccan RedeDo what you will, so long as it harms none.

 Does that sound like any witch you've seen in the movies lately?

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