Home Video Hovel- In/Sight
“Fear what you see,” says the DVD cover of In/Sight, a film that aspires to a Hitchcockian suspense it cannot hope to attain Fear is perhaps too strong a word for what you should feel while watching it; disdain is probably closer to the mark. In/Sight is a boilerplate thriller that doesn’t strain credibility so much as dispense with it altogether; its labored attempts to pull the rug from under the viewer is really little more than cheating. Honestly, you should have walked away the moment you saw the title: whenever a bit of typographical frippery like a needless slash takes up residence in a film’s title like a raccoon in an abandoned car, you ought to know that it’s going to be preposterous nonsense. And yes, I’m including John Woo’s Face/Off, which at least has the benefit of being entertainingly preposterous nonsense.
Natalie Zea stars at Kaitlyn, who in the film’s opening scene is attending to an emergency room stabbing victim; while trying to understand the dying girl’s last words, Kaitlyn is accidentally zapped by the defibrillator. Next thing you know, she can “see” things seemingly related to the victim’s death. Despite the presence of police detectives investigating the case, and despite the fact that Kaitlyn has had actual physical contact with them, she is convinced that no one on Earth is doing anything to solve this ghastly murder, and so it is up to her to step in and bring the perpetrator to justice. This was the only part of the film I considered to be even vaguely believable — not that an ER nurse would abruptly become a detective, but that having decided upon this course of action she would do it so clumsily, as if watching stupid movies like this bestowed uncanny powers of deduction, only to find out how wrong she is.
But she’s not wrong, is she? Well, notions like right and wrong don’t necessarily apply here; it’s more appropriate to say that Kaitlyn is wherever the screenplay needs her to be at any given moment, and that everything she “sees” is deliberately designed to point you in one direction so that you can be faked out in another. But the twist, when it comes, has almost nothing to do with any rational plot construction or an effort to bowl the viewer over with a legitimately mind-bending whammy — no, it’s more like the filmmakers huddled in front of a laptop at Starbucks and said “Hey, THIS will knock ’em sideways!” and worked backward, hoping all their hack psychological obfuscation and faux-supernatural mumbo-jumbo would wipe away any doubt that we are witnessing a grade-A 21st-century suspense classic.
Fat chance. Miss Zea does what she can with such substandard material, but that isn’t much; Sean Patrick Flannery has the even more thankless task of playing Rafferty, the cynical cop who improbably buys into Kaitlyn’s visions. (And what must it be like to have to say “I’m not the bad guy” as though nobody had ever said it before?) Veteran actors Veronica Cartwright and Christopher Lloyd are thrown away doing somebody a favor playing, respectively, a stale plot device and an obvious red herring. Adam Baldwin, as a menacing psychiatrist, is only plausible with the “menacing” part, as though the filmmakers thought, “Hey, we already threw in ONE red herring… what more do you want?” And special mention must be made of one Max Perlich as Rafferty’s partner; I don’t know who let him get away with dressing as though he was in a hard-boiled Warner Brothers movie circa 1946 (replete with a fedora that never, EVER comes off), but this sartorial whim is ill-considered at best, as no police department that expected to be taken seriously (which I think is most of them) would let its employees out of the house looking so dopey. Richard Gabai, who brought us such celluloid delights as Virgin High and Assault Of The Party Nerds, directs with a restless camera that suggests A) he has confused constant motion with snappy visual style, and B) he’s afraid that the audience will lose all patience if given a moment to catch their breath and realize that they’re watching overheated drivel. I didn’t even need a moment. There are psychological and supernatural thrillers out there that are far superior to anything In/Sight has to offer; viewers would do better to seek them out in/stead.