Friday, September 2, 2011

Richard Gabai's new genre-jumping thriller IN/SIGHT has a nice surprise up its sleeve

Full disclosure: Richard Gabai, the director of the film at hand, IN/SIGHT, is a cousin of my longtime companion, and I have known the movie-maker, though at quite a distance, for some years. I have also seen a few of his earlier films, none of which I was much taken with, though I could see where they fit into the family-film-fodder category by supplying necessary TV-level entertainment to the masses. (God, that sounds elitist! Well, so be it.) Mr. Gabai, has worked in the industry as an actor (The Wasp Woman [remake], After Midnight, Final Voyage), as a writer and director, and as a producer and executive producer (he helped bring about this year's excellent and woefully underseen Beautiful Boy).

Gabai, shown at left, has directed 17 films, in genres from high-school-sex-comedy (Virgin High) to family adventure (2009's 3-D Call of the Wild), and as he has worked, he appears to have been learning on-the-job. The IMDB ratings for his films have slowly climbed, from very low scores for his early work to noticeably higher for his more recent movies. Now, with his new film, he's turned his attention to providing something a little different in the para-psychology/thriller genre. In/Sight, from a screenplay by Aaron Ginzberg and Wade McIntyre, seems to me Gabai's best work as a director, and (with the exception of the exceptional Beautiful Boy), the best film he's been involved with in his career so far.

All of which is not to say that In/Sight is anything approaching a great movie. In fact, its first half is pretty mundane: standard, TV-level stuff, with our heroine, a hospital nurse portrayed by the quietly elegant Natalie Zea (above), appearing to be accidentally electro-shocked into the mind/spirit of her patient, a young woman (Angeline-Rose Troy, below) who's just been brutally and bloodily assaulted.

When the police pooh-pooh the visions our nurse begins to have, even though these "light shows" lead to some certifiable clues, she must take it upon herself to investigate the crime, finally with the help of one of the more kindly -- not to mention hunky -- detectives (Sean Patrick Flanery, below, right).

All this results in various suspects turning up -- from an ex-boyfriend (Thomas Ian Nichols, above, left) to a creepy neighbor (Christopher Lloyd, below)... the victim's former therapist (an interesting role and a surprising choice of actor, Adam Baldwin, results in a winning combination).

Unfortunately, most of these guys exist only to act as annoying "red herrings." But there are other interesting performers on view: Veronica Cartwright, above, as our nurse's invalid mom, and the bizarre Max Perlich, below, as another detective who seems to have materialized out of a 30s film noir.

All this is just standard stuff until, during its second half, the movie delivers a knock-out punch that, upon reflection, makes uncanny sense and takes the film into an entirely other realm, proving that In/Sight actually has some insight -- plus a ferociously intelligent surprise up its sleeve. 

In/Sight, with a running time of 92 minutes, opens today for the Labor Day weekend, across much of the country. In New York City it'll be playing at the AMC Empire 25, To see all the various venues, click here, then scroll down to the bottom right and click on THEATERS.

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