If Hannah Montana and Michael Bay joined forces to direct a taut home invasion thriller – it might just be Within.
Somewhere in between Disturbia and Miley Cyrus’ Lol, Within sits there, innocently roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories and staring at your bum.
Leery, ridiculous, and at times genuinely scary, Within is an odd amalgamation of tween angst and visceral horror cinema.
The film begins formulaically enough, as widower John ups sticks to suburbia, with his new wife Mel and daughter Hannah (Erin Moriarty), seeking what all horror movie characters want – a fresh start.
The fly in the ointment is their lecherous new neighbour Ray (Ronnie Gene Blevins), whose interests include slathering his hair with Brylcreem and watching women get changed.
Hannah, who struggles to adjust to life in the suburbs, as well as her distance from dreamy Disney Channel boyfriend Tommy (Blake Jenner), clocks Ray as a wrongun right away.
Around the same time, Hannah starts to hear things go bump in the night, and wonders, with no discernible irony, whether it is at all relevant that Ray is a locksmith?
I had mixed feelings about Within. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a bad movie. The plot is flimsy, the acting is wooden, and the characters are as two-dimensional as cardboard cut-outs.
There’s the film’s bizarre plot twist, which lurches out of the blue with so little warning that it feels totally unbelievable and unearned.
Not to mention a deeply troubling scene in which Ray ogles Hannah as she strips down to her underwear, which is imbued with all the carefree, eighties sexism of a Whitesnake video.
Having said that, if you can make it past the hour mark you’ll find that Within has a formidable sting in its tail.
Eschewing an oppressive atmosphere in favour of popcorn and fluff, director Phil Claydon takes real joy in leading his audience down the garden path.
All too late you realise that Within is grizzly, nasty and has real teeth – even if they’re hidden behind a set of train-track braces.