What comes to mind when we think of death and the afterlife, spirits and ghosts? Usually, when we utter the word ‘ghost’, we think of grotesque faces, long black hair, or white dresses. Nevertheless, that isn’t the case all of the time, ya know. While a lot of the scary aspects have been rooted in folklore and urban legends, there have also been numerous cases of unexplained circumstances that aren’t necessarily horrifying but rather give rise to intrigue.
Similarly, there have been plenty of supernatural films that do not necessarily provide horror thrills, but rather seek to ask questions. What happens after a person dies? How do the dead mourn the living? Can a person still love someone from the great beyond and not move on? Can true love never die?
David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” is a prime example of the idea of mourning the loss of love, and of life; always searching and always waiting within the constraints of our world. “Postman to Heaven” dealt with similar themes, of fried, and sentimental values with the loss of loved ones while connecting to spirits of the deceased. And now, with “The In Between” dropping on Netflix, we have a new look at what it means to continue loving someone even after they are gone.
“The In Between” centres around Tessa (Joey King), a teenage photography prodigy who has been struggling with finding a foster home, never truly being able to fit in. She believes she is incapable of loving or even being loved while her current foster parents, Mel (John Ortiz) and Vickie (Kim Dickens) feel otherwise.
Nevertheless, during a screening of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Betty Blue” at her local theatre, she meets a senior from a neighbouring town, Skylar (Kyle Allen) to which she takes a liking. After chancing upon him again at her school’s rowing competition, the two begin falling deeply in love.
Alas, tragedy strikes when a freak accident occurs and Skylar is killed. While Tessa was also at the site of the accident with Skylar, she survives. Now dazed and overcome with grief, Tessa now has to deal with the loss of her beloved.
Soon after, strange happenings begin to surround the teenager. Objects start moving on their own and while she is in her car, songs start playing randomly on her radio. Even her film camera is taking pictures with added ghastly features in the photos.
She soon realises that an ethereal presence is attempting to connect with her. Believing that Skylar is making a conscious effort to contact her from a place in between the afterlife and our real world, she goes on a desperate mission to give her soulmate one last goodbye. The clock is ticking. The window is closing. Can she make it in time before Skylar leaves to the great beyond?
As a film, “The In Between” definitely pays more attention to its visual form, giving viewers . There always is the idea of the other side. How do you depict it? How do you describe loneliness? The subtext is always there. Lines separate the living and the dead. Colour is graded accordingly, helping the viewer notice the changes that Tessa is going through while moving through the narrative. Mirrors and reflections are all teased as the gateway to another realm.
Granted, there have been many depictions of what an afterlife would look like. Maybe it is an abstract form. Or maybe it’s just pure darkness. Maybe it’s cities of gold in the clouds. That being said, the film does not go to extreme lengths to fully depict such. The main idea is for it to give a familiar place of solitude for Tessa and Skylar and that’s just what it does, making the In Between a slightly heightened version of our world that doesn’t conform to the same laws of physics but still looks more or less the same.
Again, this is a story about love and grief. The subject is Tessa as a character and how she deals with the trauma. There is a good delineation between the bright hues of the couple while their relationship is still in a physical, tangible state, coupled with the dim unsaturated monochrome of post-tragedy. It’s a good way to tell viewers which side of the platform they are on.
Narratively, the structure jumps back and forth between the past and present with decent effect. Occasionally, there is a little tonal oddity due to how the scenes flow, with the most jarring sequences being the ones that try to bring out some charm and humour to complement the mystery and love story of Tessa and Skylar. Honestly, some of it fell a little flat especially when Tessa and her friend, Shannon (Celeste O’Connor), try to reach out to Skylar using several methods while accompanied by chill pop vibes.
Fresh off the success of “The Kissing Booth” series, Joey King takes a more dramatic turn in “The In Between”. As the lead, she displays a good range here. There is a great deal of rage and guilt that Tessa feels. While she looks numb most of the time, the actual flip outs that King imbues into the character stand out. Without a doubt, the actress proves her talent once again and we’re definitely excited to see her in more projects. Comin’ at ya Brad Pitt!
Overall, the visual presentation of this film is pretty well done but story-wise, this one might get lost in the shuffle of all of the other supernatural lovey-dovey movies that we have seen before. Regardless, it still is a good watch for the weekend.
“The In Between” is currently streaming on Netflix.
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The In Between Review
"The In Between" is a decent effort that asks and answers questions about mourning the death of a loved one, all while telling a story between two timelines without being heavy on the melodrama or emotionally saccharine.
- The In Between Review