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On the Inside (Blu-ray Review)

22 Jul, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 7/24/12
Anchor Bay
$26.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Nick Stahl, Olivia Wilde, Dash Mihok, Daniel Franzese, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Sometimes a rush to judgment can have dire consequences. Allen (typically pensive Nick Stahl), a young college professor, is committed to a mental institution after bludgeoning to death a man whom he mistakenly believed raped his girlfriend.

On the inside of the psychiatric hospital, Allen has plenty of time to reflect (in flashbacks) on an upbringing that found him the odd one out to a mother consumed with love for his older brother. This slight, the viewer comes to learn, is at the root of Allen’s guilt — and worse.

In short order, Allen is assigned to a new socialization program whereby patients deemed a non-threat to themselves and others — notably the opposite sex — are allowed to co-mingle. There he meets Mia (understated Olivia Wilde), a diagnosed schizophrenic.

With a seemingly contrived sexual chemistry between Allen and Mia developing over punch and cookies, burgeoning anarchy is festering all around in the form of Carl (Dash Mihok), a psychopath on a fast track toward personal annihilation.

Carl plots a breakout — not much of a stretch considering the dimwitted authorities on staff — ensnaring in the process Ben (ever effective Pruitt Taylor Vince), a 21st-century version of Lennie, the misunderstood “Baby Huey” from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

On the Inside should not be mistaken for emulating the tragedy and pathos of society’s victory over the individual spirit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Indeed, the film plays like a stage production featuring select strong individual performances that in their entirety evoke little viewer empathy for a happy ending.

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