Many a therapist will advise their clients to do internal work and explore hidden, unresolved feelings harbored, often for a lifetime. With Trevor Juras’ debut feature film The Interior, we get a literal representation of just that, but with an extremely sinister twist.
Being a cog in the wheel of an industrialized, computerized and compartmentalized society is not what James (Patrick McFadden) wants to be. He is a dead-pan shell of a person, with a list of strange symptoms and an unfulfilled life. When he gets some bad news from the doctor, he decides to leave everything behind to spend time in the wilderness. What should have been a soul-searching trip turns into a nerve-wracking mind game when he realizes he may not be the only one in the vast forest.
You really have to stay with The Interior to appreciate it as a whole. It starts with darkly comic scenarios of a stark, pointless life, making one feel that James is simply an ant in a very big anthill. The film then rolls into a slow burn nail-biter that some viewers may become frustrated with but, after absorbing it in its entirety, will ultimately understand the full impact of James’ descent into a paranoid spiral. He is still an ant in the wilderness setting, but we see him under a microscope that makes us uncomfortable and bewildered as a viewer. At times we even experience similar emotions to James when the action rolls out.
There is very little dialogue, but what is said is almost poetic, especially in the scene between James and his girlfriend Cindy (Shaina Silver-Baird). The action is punctuated by a piano score that is reminiscent of silent films, and creates a melodrama that is extremely effective without the spoken word. The visuals are beautiful and unsettling, and it is always impressive when a cinematographer can create such compelling night scenes with a single light source. Othello Jay Ubalde does just that and, along with some stunning nature photography and disorienting camera angles, the film becomes both ominous and sublime at the same time.
The Interior is a psychological horror that will take your breath away, especially if you are a fan of David Lynch style weirdness. It is one of those films that will definitely resonate with audiences long after it ends. I recommend seeing it for McFadden’s tightly wound performance and the unique kind of horror experience it offers.
Monday, October 19, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Tickets can be purchased at the Toronto After Dark website.