Look Into The Fire
May 25, 2023
Artie Shase, Jackie Dallas, Nina. E Jordan
Look Into The Fire is a strange mishmash of Misery, Shutter Island and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that never captures the magic of its influences. This memory focused sci-fi is ambitious and complex, but lacks direction or story drive.
Neuropsychology student Adam (Artie Shase) is desperate to prove his potential to his professor, and undertakes an experiment to unlock the full potential of the brain. When it goes wrong, he loses all sense of his identity, and memories and visions become inseparable. When his sister Janet (Nina E. Jordan) emerges under the auspice of taking Adam into her care, his classmate Samantha (Jackie Dallas) gathers her remaining friends to help find the truth.
It’s difficult to define exactly what Look Into The Fire wants to be. Beginning as a contemplative examination of memory and the ethics of interfering with the mind, the film morphs into a borderline horror upon Adam’s supposed kidnap, before becoming increasingly psychological and reality-bending as it progresses. But the shifting between these gears is so clunky that it makes the whole car stall. The story threads and themes do not comfortably align, and the tonal shifts feels jarring and out of place. It results in a film that feels like it can’t fully commit to one ideal, and a confusing plot that attempts to knit these varying strands together does not help matters. Not thoughtful enough to be a great sci-fi, not scary enough to be a horror, and not original or clever enough to be a psychological thriller. The twists and turns won’t be the only reason audiences are left wondering what they are watching.
Artie Shase sadly lacks the necessary charisma to cut through the convolution as Adam too often presents as a monotone and unengaging protagonist. His apparent shock upon losing his memory falls flat – in what should be a key establishing moment for the whole film. Jackie Dallas is more endearing as Samantha, though her role never feels like it is presented centrally enough to structure the film.
Presentation and cinematography are more of an asset, and director Tim Morrill does conjure some impressive shots and visuals – though the film is quite literally too dark at times to really appreciate the storytelling. The set design is similarly impressive particularly considering the film’s budget – with futuristic technology that never feels tacky or out of place.
Without giving away spoilers, the conclusion – particularly for a film released in 2023 – is unforgivably lazy and reductive, undermining practically all of the story that came before and throwing serious question marks around much of the near 1 hour 45-minute runtime. Many a thriller ends on a world-altering twist, but Look Into The Fire’s is a real bum note that damages the overall story consistency and legitimacy. It’s a shame, because despite the troubled outcome, the film for the most part does venture into interesting territory. None of this will be the viewers’ takeaway however – and the look at this fire will leave audiences burnt by their experience.