Written and directed by Tim Morrill, Look into the Fire is a 2022 horror thriller that stars Gregg Henry, Jackie Dallas, Mateo Garcia and others.
Look into the Fire focuses on some neuropsychology graduate students whose research is to unlock the vast untapped potential of the human brain. With the students trying to one up each other, one student Adam, embraces the challenge but instead manages to take his work too far. When his self-induced experiment goes away, Adam unwittingly unlocks repressed memories and begins to be haunted by disturbing and horrific visions. As he digs deeper, he finds that there is someone or something fighting against him, not wanting him to uncover the sinister truth. Adam and his friends must therefore work together to help him confront his demons and figure out what is real and what is not before they all meet terrible fates.
The cast consists of mostly unknown actors but despite their lack of stardom, they manage to turn in solid performances. There is Jackie Dallas as Sam, Artie Shase as Adam, and Nina E. Jordan as Janet. All three give standout performances and manage to carry the weight of the story quite well. In addition, well-known character actor Gregg Henry is also part of the ensemble, and he gives a fantastic performance as Professor Hirsch.
The chemistry between this group of friends is believable and when the going gets tough, it is at this moment that their camaraderie is put to the test. Morrill’s script gives the cast much to do as each character gets his turn to shine. The script’s strength lies in its ability to unfurl the mystery slowly and as the central evil is slowly revealed, unexpected fate awaits each character in this twisty mystery.
As for the direction, Morrill does a pretty good job. Since he has also written the story and the script, Morrill knows the intricacies of the story inside out. The plot is full of twists and turns and kudos for Morrill for keeping the entire film entertaining. With not a single moment of dullness, Morrill slowly ratchets up the tension and utilises his vast chess pieces of characters and narrative arcs to tell a fantastic story. The narrative pacing is just as it needs to be as the horrific consequences of mistakes of a bunch of graduate students slowly come to light.
Seeing this film, another renowned Hollywood film immediately comes to mind and that is Flatliners. With a similar premise, Flatliners also features a group of students who find themselves battling dark and mysterious forces after they conduct some risky medical experiments. While it may be easy to dismiss Look into the Fire as a Flatliners clone, this is where you might be wrong. It has its similarities, but the film manages to chart its own new course that takes the story and characters to unexpected places.
The ending is unexpected, and Morrill manages to throw a curveball at the audience in this regard. Horror thrillers mostly follow established conventions these days, so it is nice to see being surprised for once.
In technical aspects, the film makes efficient use of its limited budget. The cinematography is dim but that is to be expected since this is a slow burn horror thriller. The use of lighting in particular works in tandem with the story. Morrill knows how to terrorise the audience and so the visual aspect that includes camera angles, lighting and editing comes in handy in this regard. The creative minds behind the production have also made efficient use of sets and visually; the film in no way feels constrained by its limited budget.
It seems the makers understood the assignment well; flashy visuals make the movie more appealing to general audiences. In a similar fashion, the sound design of the movie is also gorgeous, and it works well to convey a sense of dread and terror that pervades throughout the story.
Therefore, to sum up, Look into the Fire is a well-made and potent thriller that makes us care about its characters and puts them in multiple scenarios that are both disturbing and evil. Morrill has made a film that soars above its basic premise, as it battles genre conventions to deliver something new and exciting. Whether it succeeds in this regard or not is debatable but what is clear is that Look into the Fire works tremendously well as both a thriller and as an exploration into the mysteries of the mind.
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