Every year, the Sundance Film Festival brings together a collection of some of the most talented and innovative minds in genre-filmmaking and throws them all together in a chaotic hodgepodge of violence and absurdity that they call the Midnight film section.
Choosing a film from the Midnight section of the programming guide is gambling of the highest stakes. It is a two-hour, anything-goes type of bet that could either leave you trapped in an esoteric k-hole of emotional distress, or could give you euphoric double shot cocktail of adrenaline and dopamine that comes from seeing your favorite film of the year, and months ahead of all of your friends.
Greg Jardin’s debut It’s What’s Inside is one of the latter. The film is part Agatha Christie mystery, part gothic thriller with a little bit of Talk to Me sprinkled on top for flavor. The story revolves around a group of old friends as they reunite for one last hurrah before their friend gets married off. What starts out as an innocuous party soon degrades into utter chaos with the arrival of an estranged friend and the mysterious mechanical curio he carries with him in a handbag. He suggests that the group embarks on a test flight of a new game he has been developing, and then proceeds to open Pandora’s box whilst bedlam ensues.
Though this may be director Greg Jardin’s debut film, it would be unfair to cast him as an amateur by any means. Jardin began his career doing music videos for the likes of The Joy Formidable and Joey Ramone before ultimately moving on to the fast paced and high stress job of promo/teaser directing. Both mediums require an ability to cut straight to the chase and to be able to tell a story that is as much reliable on visuals as it is on dialogue. It is this particular skill set that makes It’s What’s Inside such an enormous success.
In his first feature debut, Jardin has done what many directors take three or four films to do; to establish a unique aesthetic fingerprint that can separate him from the herd. His masterful pacing and electric storytelling is a frenetic assault on the senses seems borne from an unlimited well of energy. It is a well that hopefully he will be able to tap into for years and years to come.
There is no drug on this earth that could prepare you for the experience of a film like this. It is a scintillating thrill ride that hijacks your nervous system from start to finish. Under the film’s glossy science fiction guise, is a compelling and contemplative social thought experiment that explores mankind’s ability at any moment to devolve into fits of hedonism, sex and violence, especially when fear of consequence is removed from the equation. This is the type of film that you are better off going into knowing as little as possible.
It’s What’s Inside is an instant classic that will leave you thirsting for more, and is well worth the $17 million dollar price tag that Netflix just paid for it.