Directed by Conor Allyn (No Man’s Land, Walk Ride Rodeo)
Co-writers Conor Allyn, Pascal Borno (Producer – Children of the Corn) and Silvio Muraglia
Starring: Amber Heard, Eduardo Noriega, Luca Calvani, Lorenzo McGovern Zaini and Isabella Benetton
Run Time: 87 minutes | Rating: R
By Chris Hammond
An American psychiatrist from New York named Grace Burnham (Amber Heard) travels to a remote plantation in the 1890s to care for a disturbed boy named Martin (Lorenzo McGovern Zaini). The boy seems to have abilities that cannot be explained. Grace begins treating Martin but ignites a war of science versus religion with the local priest (Yari Gugliucci) who believes the Devil possesses the boy and is the reason for all the village’s woes.
IN THE FIRE explores many themes throughout its runtime, but the glaringly obvious one is science (which was very new at the time) versus religion. Heard plays Grace Burnham, an American psychiatrist. Her learnings are not yet widespread and many people still fall under the church’s teachings of god and the devil. Burnham also has another hurdle to cross, she is an educated woman in a world run by men.
Conor Allyn (director/co-writer) creates the 1980s with this supernatural/western thriller. Allyn puts together a good production with fragile themes. It’s interesting to see how he balances the theme of Church vs. Science and what we perceive as good and evil.
IN THE FIRE sometimes suffers from Heard’s overacting, but for the most part, she does a good job steering the ship of this production. She’s strong, she’s fierce and that is perfect for this character she is portraying.
Heard’s dialogue is 97% English, with only a minimal amount being subtitled. Much of the dialogue from the other cast members zig-zags between subtitles and English, so be aware of that before going into the film.
Eduardo Noriega plays Nicolas Marquez, the father of Martin. He recently lost his wife (which some blame Martin’s powers for), and his (and the other farmers of the area) crops and cattle are dying through plague-like circumstances. Nicolas is also trying to save his boy from what many believe is possession by the devil.
Noriega is a skilled actor and doesn’t overplay his emotions. He does a great job of playing “the protector” of his child, whom he just wants to have a normal life.
The main attraction of this film is the breathtaking locations and the wardrobe and costumes. The bulk of which was shot on location in Guatemala, this highlights the Western feel of the film. The Guatemala landscape is full of mountainous locations and sand dune terrains. Each provides a stunning backdrop to the story unfolding.
The costume and wardrobe department (Roco Cabrera – wardrobe assistant, Isaac Castellanos – key costumer, Dalila Suglia – assistant costume designer) recreated the look of the 1890s to perfection. It goes a million miles to make this production feel and look more believable.
IN THE FIRE does an admirable job at entertaining, although it isn’t fully sure what it wants to be. Is it a supernatural film, or is it a Western or historical? It is definitely not a horror film, there are no jump scares and supernatural scenes are scarce. They consist of Martin lifting his arms or going into a daze-like state with odd things happening. This is worth viewing, but there is no replay value.
In Theaters, On Demand, and On Digital
October 13, 2023