DVD REVIEW: A DARK PLACE INSIDE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MIKE O’MAHONY / SCREENPLAY: MIKE O’MAHONY / STARRING: CHRIS DALBEY, JAMES COSTA, LAUREN OJEDA, GENOVEVA ROSSI, ROB DIMENSION, KIERAN BOYLE / RELEASE DATE: TBA
You have got to admire the bravery of a director who also chooses to write, edit, shoot and even work on the effects of their work. This practically leaves very few in the firing line should it all go, as many would say, tits up. However such matters of critique are noticeably made difficult with certain subject matter and Director Mike O’Mahony’s A Dark Place Inside is certainly one of those movies. It is hard to look objectively at a film, which, in its gestating moments, features a dismembered body being rubbed down with Vaseline by the disturbed lead character... in bed. Indeed, such low-budget disturbia has not been seen since the days of the infamously controversial Nekromantik. And it is with this in mind that we say A Dark Place Inside may not be for everyone, but it is a distinct voice in the crowd.
The film focuses on lonely factory worker Andy (Dalbey) who struggles to cope with childhood traumas as he descends into constant pathological, violence and murder. The film, from an early stage, sets its tone to the extreme and despite the odd clear prop and visual marring that comes with the perils of a low budget, O’Mahony’s gory effects work evokes a video nasty vibe akin to the days of The Driller Killer, in fact it shares many a similarity with Abel Ferrara’s low-budget ‘70s blood-soaked classic. Some have read into an American giallo style and while the visuals are not as striking as the genre’s icons, the grittiness and delivery adds to the uncomfortable and almost snuff-like realism. There is a twisted psychology that motivates this dark film but the question will really be, whether you will want to connect to that wavelength.
The best comparison is really John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or Gerard Johnson’s Tony, as this is a film that does not sympathise or demonise it simply shows and the content is far from easy to stomach. The flashbacks flesh out a minimal story that constantly feels like it is on a spin wash of murder-wash-refresh. The reasoning behind the central figure’s madness is somewhat cliché but that said, and in this current climate, is hard to deny the realistic grounds. This is not a film that one enjoys, so much as one that either successfully looks at a disturbed mind or sickeningly glorifies such actions and in that case you could call the film a success. A Dark Place Inside is low-fi, unglorified and unsettling but also, scarily, fascinating, in that it paints a picture of a man corrupted early in life, and shows the monster he has become… and how this beast cannot be contained. Scarier is the suggestion that the world is full of such people/impulses- the ominous Edgar Allan Poe quote denotes.
It is hard to recommend such a reprehensible film (in terms of content) but that is sort of the point, these actions are meant to be as scattershot, displaced and ambiguous to the viewer as they are onscreen. We can only reason so much as the film allows and while violent, it keeps the far deeper darkness inside what remains of Andy’s soul. It helps that Andy, as the film’s main character, is given a real restrained menace by Dalbey, who offers undeniably the best performance in a sea of underdeveloped characters. In fact, in some sequences the film scratches at a deeper insight into this conflicted and consequently evil leading character, although in the end, the film is (probably purposefully) distant. O’Mahony constantly keeps this polarising, low-budget throwback to the VHS video nasty days, at arm’s length, just where it is most effective. A Dark Place Inside is violent, hard to watch, harder to think about and not especially enjoyable and yet we are left to surmise, that this is an effective study of evil acts and a rather provocative work from a director with some serious thoughts in his head.
Extras: Commentary & Trailer