Wherein we roll up our sleeves, get angry, and give The Academy a swift punch in the nuts
Best Actress: Sarah Lassez forThe Dead Inside
U.S. Premiere: July 20 (Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival)
As The Dead Inside opens, two zombies — a husband and wife — stand outside a locked door in a small house. They can't figure out how to open it, and the woman trapped on the other side isn't going to come out. They pound on the door, try the handle, and discuss whether moaning "brains" is fear-inducing or just a tired cliché — but to no avail. Then they start singing. Then the film cuts to Fiona (Sarah Lassez), sitting at a computer — also singing. She's writing a novel starring the husband-and-wife zombies we've just seen, and she's written herself into a corner. Her boyfriend Wes (Dustin Fasching), a jaded wedding photographer, comes home from work, cracks a beer, and joins her in song. The next morning, after Wes leaves for another soulless wedding, the front door opens on its own — something supernatural, perhaps? So far, this film is has hit three different genres and it's immensely entertaining, well written and acted, a little creepy, and completely unpredictable. And it's only getting started.
To call The Dead Inside a musical, a zombie film, a comedy, or a drama is to sell it short — sure, it is all of those things, but it become something so much more. The story unfolds in a series of unexpected yet plausible twists, propelled by incredible performances by Fasching and Lassez. As the film keeps jumping genres, Wes is the straight man, and Fasching's steady performance helps the story stay grounded — it never feels like it's flying off the rails.
Fiona's character is immensely demanding, as she undergoes a wide variety of changes during the film and the role becomes increasingly complex, both physically and emotionally. One false note or unconvincing moment would sink a character like this, and pull the audience out of the film. But Lassez nails each emotion and transitions between them seamlessly, and as a result the audience follows along. Her range is extraordinary — you get the feeling that she could do anything.
The Dead Inside is so good, so well acted, shot, edited, and scored that it's a shame that it's not out yet. I was lucky enough to see it as a judge for Boston's own Killer Film Festival, and I am eagerly awaiting the DVD, VOD, streaming, or any kind of release. Sadly, there is no word on when that will be. I hope that when The Dead Inside is available to the public it will be recognized for the incredible film it is — and the talent of Lassez and everyone involved will be too.