SDIFF’19 – ‘Safe Inside’ Original Concept Let Down by Poor Characters

Safe Inside is not the film you think it is based on the trailer, five minutes in, or even thirty minutes into watching it. I mean this in both good and bad ways.

It would be revealing too much of the plot to state what it is exactly, but there’s a truly interesting and worthwhile concept here. While overly muddled and taking a bit too long in revealing it’s true nature, the film’s major reveal is quite compelling, surprising and pretty original. Unfortunately, this is all ruined by poor characters.

Our female lead Ana (Andrea Tivadar), a young woman travelling around Europe doing odd jobs with her boyfriend (Tom Ainsley), is defined by the men in her life. The loss of her beloved father and her love for her macho boyfriend/protector are what informs every aspect of her personality we’re provided. The other characters and their dialogue also feel very disingenuous and surface level. They seem more like one-dimensional characters here to service a story on a very specific subject, rather than actual people.

It doesn’t help either that two of our three key actors do a pretty poor job here as well, though a confused and lacklustre script and direction may be a contributing factor. Tivadar and Ainsley come across as rather amateur and unbelievable, and their romantic connection and chemistry is almost immediately forgettable.

Steven Brand as the French man who offers the couple a job and a place to stay (potentially for twisted reasons), is at least making interesting choices. With the help of  strong, suspenseful music cues, he is responsible for this film’s tensest moments. He’s able to switch from kind and thoughtful to aggressive and frightening easily in a manner that is particularly unsettling and effective. Though Johanna Kulig of Cold War acclaim is technically a member of the cast as well, one shouldn’t prioritise seeing the film due to her appearance by any means as her part amounts to little more than a cameo.

As thrillers go though, it is important to reiterate and applaud that the twist here is really quite good. Unfortunately though most else of what else the movie offers isn’t.

by Jennifer Verzuh

Jennifer Verzuh is an LA based critic and writer who’s had her work published at Little White Lies, Girls on Top, Much Ado About Cinema, Starry Constellation Magazine and The Reel Honey. She’s worked at film festivals across the US and is currently involved in post-production. Some of her favorite movies are Carol, Ida, Jackie Nashville. You can contact her here: jennifer.verzuh@gmail.com

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