WARNING SPOILERS!!! THE EVIL WITHIN (2016) is one of those films with a troubled production history, but that doesn't mean it is a bad film. Production of the film began in 2002, but was plagued by many delays including: funding issues, conflicts with cast, and a lawsuit from a studio assistant. After many stops and starts to the production, filming was completed in 2008. Director/screenwriter Andrew Getty (The grandson of billionaire Jean Paul Getty) began obsessing over the final edit of the film and spent many years working to perfect it, but he unfortunately died in 2015 (due to a hemorrhaging ulcer caused by his ongoing methamphetamine addiction). before it could be completed. Producer Michael Luceri, who had also assisted with the editing, finished the film. It opens with Dennis (Frederick Koehler, a very familiar face and under-rated actor on TV and films, such as DEATH RACE - 2008 and it's first two DTV sequels - 2010 & 2013, with another one on the way in 2018) narrating his dreams in a very inventive sequence (One where Michael Berryman; [THE HILLS HAVE EYES - 1977] unzips Dennis' back, does something and zips it back up) that will bound to make you rewind the DVD (especially when his mother takes off her sunglasses), ending with him looking in a full length antique mirror. We then see Dennis in real life having a picnic on his birthday with his brother John (Sean Patrick Flanery; DEMON HUNTER - 2005) and John's girlfriend Lydia (Dina Meyer; SAW I, II, III & IV - [2004 - 2007]). It is obvious Dennis is slightly mentally impaired, but when John gives him the mirror from his dreams for his birthday (He tells Dennis he found it in a "Prohibition Vault"), Dennis doesn't want it because it is evil. John tries to talk him out of it, but Dennis screams for him to stop using "fifty cent words". The mirror is actually evil and begins to affect Dennis' dreams. Dennis begins to talk to himself in the mirror and sees things he would rather not see (Like Berryman biting off the tips of his fingers, revealing his fingertip bones and then slitting Dennis' throat). Dennis' reflection talks him into doing many things. like killing the neighbor's cat and putting it in a cooler. (His reflection tells him he is holding a new paint brush). John become suspicious when he notices that Dennis has VHS tapes (showing its 2002 roots) on taxidermy, forensics and other subjects (later on it changes from VHS tapes to books) Dennis should not be interested in and wonder what Dennis is building in the basement since Dennis was never interested in carpentry (Dennis tells John he will show him what he is doing in a couple of days). Dennis is watching a Documentary on venomous spiders when the narrator says "you f***ing re***d!" and a giant spider climbs on Dennis and sucks him dry until he is nothing but a shriveled corpse. It was all a dream, of course, until Berryman (Billed as the "Cadaver") tells him through the mirror that he will make all of it stop if he does him a favor: Kill a child. Dennis kills a young boy on a swing and puts him in a wooden chest. He sees himself in the mirror as not being mentally impaired and his non-impaired reflection tells him that all the things he sees in his dreams are being whispered in his ear by him because where he is is very dark. Dennis' reflection tells him as long as he is done what he is told, he can come live where he is and his reflection can come into the real world. His reflection convinces Dennis to become a serial killer and his first intended victim is the girl at the counter of the local ice cream parlor, Susan (Brianna Brown; NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D - 2006), who Dennis has a crush on. Dennis scares the crap out of Susan and she runs out into the path of an oncoming car and is killed (The whole scene is very well done and has the feel of a nightmare). Meanwhile John asks Lydia to marry him, but he finds out Lydia may be cheating on him. Trying to describe the rest of the film is just like trying to make sense of a nightmare. It is indescribable, but it is also very watchable. Frederick Koehler is a revelation here, managing to make you believe he is both impaired and normal at the same time. This is also one of those films where there is always something going on in the background, so this is not a film you want to put on while vacuuming your living room. This film demands all your attention. In other words, a film that everyone should admire. This is as close to a filmed nightmare as you can get. It doesn't surprise me that director Andrew Getty had a methamphetamine addiction that killed him because this is an extremely frenetic film with visuals that defy description (like Dennis' restaurant that he built downstairs where an animatronic clown sings and an octopus plays the drums!). John also seems to be having psychiatric problems, as we see him talking to his psychiatrist, Dr. Preston (Francis Guinan) on several occasions (We find out that John pushed "prodigy" Dennis down a flight of stairs when they were children, permanently damaging Dennis' brain), and it has forever bothered him since it happened, making him as dependent on Dennis as Dennis is dependent on him. John and Lydia go through a "Twilight Zone-ish" experience. (There is a strange scene where John and Lydia are at a restaurant and can't get anyone to acknowledge them. John confronts one guy and acts tough, but it turns out to be a giant of a man who looks somewhat like Rhondo Hatton (Matthew McGrory of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES - 2003 and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005, who passed away in 2005, once again a reminder of the film's troubled production history) Unfortunately, Michael Berryman has very few scenes in this film (he is prominently displayed on the DVD Sleeve). But there are a lot of indescribable scenes here (especially what happens to Lydia and the ending, which can politely be said to be insane). If you like films that make you feel creeped out, I can honestly say that this film is the one you should watch. And in case you were wondering: Yes, there is some blood, gore and female nudity, but this film is mostly about the surreal visuals and the nudity is in no way titillating. One of the best DTV films I have seen in a while. Look for Kim Darby (DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK - 1973) in a quick cameo as a female police officer.
When I was a kid I saw some artwork that had been made by people suffering from schizophrenia, the art itself wasn't particularly scary but something about it made it seem like it was something I shouldn't be looking at. This movie is a lot like that, I came away feeling disturbed and creeped out but I cant really tell why.
Wow!!!! Love that this movie was free on Prime! What an interesting outlook on mental illness, and a great movies to really get you thinking about your dreams! I would say this movies is well worth watching!!!!