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Starring: Brittany O'Grady, James Morisini, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Devon Terell, Gavin Leathwood

Director(s): Greg Jardin


Writer-director Greg Jardin’s playful, sexy, and science fiction–infused feature debut plays out within a twisted parlor game among a flock of raffish social media obsessives. Within the soapy fun of the spirited party atmosphere, Jardin ratchets up the tension and thrills, cunningly deploying stylish expository clues so that audiences can marvel at the fast-paced plot twists without being left behind. Featuring Alycia Debnam-Carey, Brittany O’Grady, and James Morosini, the dynamic, up-and-coming ensemble cast play multiple variations of their romantically entangled, secret-keeping characters with a winking wit and humor. The production’s splashy, colorful visual style echoes the exuberance of the high-concept premise, allowing for a layered delight in this immensely entertaining, wholly original brainteaser of a film.

Written By: Darren Zakus

Rating: 4 out of 5

It’s What’s Inside is destined to be one of the most shocking and unforgettable films of the year thanks to an incredibly smart, hilarious and startling debut from writer director Greg Jardin that is brought to life by a truly talented cast fully committed to Jardin’s twisted vision.

While you should walk into as many films as possible knowing very little to make the experience a surprise, It’s What’s Inside is one you want to walk into completely blind with no knowledge of what you are getting yourself into. The film’s brief description that details a pre-wedding party amongst old friends that descends into an existential nightmare when an estranged friend arrives is more than enough to hint at where Greg Jardin’s debut could potentially go, but not at all giving away the madness that is about to unfold on screen. While it's easy to lump this film into the horror genre given the existential nightmare that the characters undergo, the film plays out more as a thriller with a wicked sense of humour and a deranged way in which it tortures its characters that demands that this film is watched with a large crowd (but sadly as the film was bought by Netflix after premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a close group of friends at home will now have to suffice).

The film starts off as an incredibly slow burn, leaving the audience in the dark like all of the film’s characters minus Forbes, portrayed by David W. Thompson, who is the estranged friend with a hidden agenda. When you think you know what direction the story is going to take, Jardin throws a curveball that puts the viewer back to square one figuring out where he is going with this film. But when all the pieces of the puzzle fall together in the third act, it’s a heart pounding race to the film’s unnerving conclusion that will simultaneously have you holding your breath, gasping in fear and shock, applauding and laughing out loud. In terms of the comedic angle that Jardin infuses his film with, it is most similar to the self aware and self deprecating comedy style of Bodies Bodies Bodies as our characters’ insecurities, past transgressions and worst selves come to the forefront that result in some truly killer comedic moments. Jardin has a pointed social commentary that informs his humour, which will only increase the volume of the viewer’s laughter as it’s truly a wild and hilarious film unlike anything else you have seen.

In terms of the film’s visuals, Jardin has carefully designed the aesthetics of the film to help guide the audience through the uncontrollable madness he unleashes on screen. Jardin uses the film’s colour grading and lighting to indicate what is happening during each scene and the perspective from which the story is being told. It’s hard to fully describe this without spoiling what plays out in the story, but once you see the film you will see the effect the colour grading has on guiding the narrative that would otherwise be very difficult to keep track of. The cinematography is striking, starting off subdued and growing wilder as the events of the film unravel, while the editing makes great use of split screen to show conversations and events playing out simultaneously at different locations at the party so the audience knows as much as they can (within the boundaries of what Jardin is ready to reveal). The pacing of the editing increases as tension rises amongst our characters, and when the clock is ticking as the film’s climax is fast approaching, the quick cuts between scenes combined with the more outrageous cinematography choices only amplifies the chaos of Jardin’s story, which helps to translate the character’s maddening night into the audience’s experience watching this film.

You may not know any of the actors in this film, but after the performances every single one of them gives, you will be keeping them on your radar going forward. As an ensemble, the entire cast has exquisite chemistry with each other, and the many layers they bring to their performances is truly mind-blowing, fully capturing the roles that they were each written and creating these characters in a truly cinematic fashion to match the wild direction the story takes. To say the least, every single member of the cast is incredible and a true talent, each deserving of roles in much larger films going forward. In the lead roles of Shelby and Cyrus are Brittany O’Grady and James Morosini, both of whom are absolutely fantastic! O’Grady effortlessly captures the comfortableness within Shelby and her inherent sweetness that makes her that friend that everyone likes. But as the story spins out of control, O’Grady brings a powerful strength to Shelby that builds a wonderful character arc that you will not see coming for Shelby. Morosini, on the other hand, truly makes a great play at the worst movie boyfriend in recent memory with his performance as Cyrus. The arrogance Morosini develops within minutes of meeting Cyrus on screen is spectacular, creating a character that you can’t help but be instantly put off by, which the sentiment only intensifies as the film progresses. Cyrus is not a cool guy by any standard, and Morosini brings to life Cyrus’s internal desire to be more like his traditionally cool friends at every possible opportunity. While you can’t help but hate his character, Morosini does a good job of creating a minimal level of sympathy for Cyrus given the ending his character is dealt, as it is one doozy of an ending even though his character totally had it coming. Alycia Debnam-Carey is excellent as Nikki, the social media influencer of the friend group, helping to create some truly hilarious moments throughout the film; while Thompson is the perfect amount of creepy meets Steve Jobs as Forbes, creating the character that lights the fuse on the ticking time bomb that this group of friends is sitting on.

If there is one word to describe It’s What’s Inside, it is BONKERS! Completely unique, shocking, hilarious and outrageous in all the best ways imaginable, nothing can prepare you for a truly outstanding debut from writer and director Greg Jardin that he delivers in It’s What’s Inside. From a spectacular ensemble cast led by the outstanding performances of Brittany O’Grady and James Morosini, Greg Jardin’s feature film debut is one wicked ride from start to finish full of twists and turns, shocking reveals and uncontrollable laughter, making It’s What’s Inside one of the most unforgettable films of this year that you cannot afford to miss!

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