IN THE FIRE is a new thriller starring Amber Heard and featuring several horror elements of the religious kind. Or rather, it’s a question of religion versus science in the 1890s. It’s interesting enough, but too long (and slow) as well as very predictable. Read our full In the Fire movie review here!
IN THE FIRE is a thriller with a story that sounds more like a horror movie. However, it is actually quite slow burn and you won’t know exactly what’s going on until the end of the movie. For me, the very premise of the story is flawed in many ways – and the dialogue is cringeworthy at times – so it’s off to a tough beginning.
The cast works well, with Amber Heard in the lead, but some characters do end up being quite stereotypical. Not to say they aren’t very realistic because we’ve certainly reviewed enough true-crime documentaries featuring religion to know otherwise. It just doesn’t work as well in a feature film where we barely get to know the characters.
Continue reading our In the Fire movie review below. Find it in theaters and at home on Friday, October 13, 2023.
The devil or mental illness
In this new thriller, we meet the doctor, Grace Burnham (Amber Heard) who comes from New York and travels to a remote plantation in the 1890s. There, she is surrounded by Spanish-speaking people living in a rural and quite religious area. Her job is to care for a disturbed boy, Martin, who has shown inexplicable abilities.
Nothing too wild, but plenty for the villagers to believe he is the devil. Actually, they believed this from the moment he was born.
Grace begins observing and treating Martin, who she suspects might have a mental illness (or challenge) rather than anything supernatural. It becomes the age-old battle of science versus religion. And, of course, a village in trouble always needs something to blame and the local priest has been quick to point at the boy. Again and again.
The very same priest is also quick to bring out a whip and beat anyone who dares to disagree or challenge him, so there’s that.
For me, Amber Heard (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, John Carpenter’s The Ward) works really well as Grace. She’s laid back and any kind of make-up is toned down completely. I also liked her scenes with the boy, Martin, who is played equally well by the young Lorenzo McGovern Zaini.
I didn’t care very much for Eduardo Noriega in In the Fire. He plays the father of Martin, and he just did not work for me overall. I loved him in Guillermo del Toro‘s The Devil’s Backbone (2001), but he doesn’t always work for me for some reason. Mark of the Devil was another example, but that movie just wasn’t good. Period.
“Do you know what grace means?”
As mentioned earlier, there are issues with the dialogue. Or rather, some lines are just straight-up eye-roll-inducing. Like when a native Spanish-speaking person asks the native English-speaking person named Grace if she knows what “grace” means.
I’m sure it’s meant to be a moment of insight for Grace, but the woman is a licensed medical doctor at a time when few women were. I feel rather confident that she knows the word “grace”. Especially as it’s also her name. Still, it’s infinitely better than The Reckoning. And I did fear that particular movie would be a comparison when I first heard of the In the Fire plot.
There’s also an issue with an inkblot test coming up. Again, we’re supposed to be in the 1890s but the Rorschach test wasn’t introduced until 1921. For me, these details matter. Maybe they won’t for you. And yes, sure, using inkblots or “ambiguous designs” was used to determine personality earlier. It was also used as a game of sorts.
However, it is very clearly explained that Grace, a doctor, is all about science. As such, it is heavily implied that her methods are inspired by the Rorschach test, which simply wasn’t a thing yet. In case you want to know a bit more about the Rorschach test and be a nerd like me, I’ve included a link to the Wikipedia page on it here.
Watch In the Fire in theaters or at home
Conor Allyn is the director and co-writer of In the Fire. A quick look at Conor Allyn’s IMDb page reveals that he is staying very busy these years. Producing a lot of TV movies and directing quite a few feature films. His previous movie was No Man’s Land from 2020.
The other writers are Pascal Borno and Silvio Muraglia. Having watched the movie, it is absolutely no surprise that it was written by three men. Also, Conor Allyn is the only one with any solid screenwriter experience whereas Pascal Borno and Silvio Muraglia usually focus on producing. Pascal Borno has produced movies such as the latest Children of the Corn while Silvio Muraglia produced Black Butterfly.
If you’re a fan of stories that focus on whether someone is actually influenced by the devil (or another demonic force of some kind), then you should check this out. It’s not a bad movie in that particular subgenre. For me, it’s just too slow and extremely predictable. I don’t think there was even one surprise along the way, which was a shame.
In the Fire will be available in theaters and at home from October 13, 2023.
Director: Conor Allyn
Writers: Conor Allyn, Pascal Borno, Silvio Muraglia
Cast: Amber Heard, Eduardo Noriega, Lorenzo McGovern Zaini, Sophie Amber, Luca Calvani, Yari Gugliucci
A doctor from New York travels to a remote plantation in the 1890s to care for a disturbed boy who seems to have inexplicable abilities. She begins treating the child, but in doing so ignites a war of science versus religion with the local priest who believes the boy is possessed by the Devil and is the reason for all the village’s woes.