The Dead Inside is an independent musical horror film by writer/director Travis Betz about two artists finding themselves burnt out with their art. Betz adds in some horror elements, mixes in a few musical numbers, and a sense of humor to help add entertainment to an otherwise light dramatic film. Zombies, spirits, ghost possessions, and musical numbers can be fun, right?
The Dead Inside Director: Travis Betz Rating: N/A Release Date: November 20, 2012 (VOD and Amazon)
Fiona (Sarah Lassez) is the author of a series of novels about two zombies in love (Max and Harper, also played by the film's stars) in a post-apocalyptic world. However, she finds herself battling a severe case of writer's block. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Wes (Dustin Fasching) makes a living as a wedding photographer, despite his lack of interest in the job. With the couple facing disappointment in their current positions, their lives are changed when Fiona is suddenly possessed by a spirit with unclear motives.
The cast of The Dead Inside is consists solely of Lassez and Fasching, which allows the film to focus directly on their characters with no need to include peripheral sidekicks/friends to help shape their respective personalities. However, Fiona takes up the majority of screen time as she faces the internal struggle between her psyche and the ghost's power over her. It would have been nice to have split more time with Wes, despite his character's rise in the second half of the film, though.
There are musical moments throughout the film that help give exposition to the characters' current predicament. It's a nice touch that helps progress the plot in a more interesting way than simple dialogue. While it may seem a bit like a gimmick, it's not overused or exploited in a way that other films might in order to push the musical agenda. This is much appreciated, too, because while the songs are well-written and entertaining, too many musical segues would have grown long in the tooth, especially in a film that runs a bit longer than 90 minutes.
The novel Fiona's writing, also sharing the title of The Dead Inside, casts Lassez and Fasching into the zombie roles that reflect their "real-life" counterparts. These little "story-within-a-story" scenes are much lighter and humor-driven than the main plot, giving the overall film a comedic touch. In fact, I'd love to see a series of shorts (or even a full-length feature) about the zombie couple. Travis, please make this happen!
The Dead Inside could have been another run-of-the-mill indie film about adult relationships, existential artistic crises, and overall jadedness with how these characters' lives turned out. Instead, the injection of a horror plot device used as a metaphor to symbolize everything helped make for a more satisfying film. It didn't hurt that the musical pieces were legitimately entertaining and actually added rather than distracted from the plot. Now let's hope that Betz creates a film about Max and Harper.