Inland (2022) – Movie Review


Directed by Fridjhof Ryder
Starring Rory Alexander, Mark Rylance, Sean Dingwall, Kathryn Hunter, Eleanor Holliday, Alexander Lincoln, Nell Williams, and Sebastian Orozco.


A young man tries to locate his missing mother.

A young man’s search to find his missing mother is the premise of Fridtjof Ryder’s poetic debut. But if that sounds simple, the movie is anything but. A lot of dream logic and mysterious angles are on hand to seduce the audience into a strange space where nothing is too clear. Anyone looking for a carefully drawn narrative may find the film’s quirks a source of frustration, but it’s this weirdness and unwillingness to conform that makes for a beautifully drawn contemplative piece.

Ryder, who was only 20 years old when the film was shot, imbues the low-budget film with plenty of dreamlike imagery and amazing sound work. Resolutely keeping things open to interpretation, the film never sets out to give easy answers. This is to applaud, and it has something in common with the influences one suspects Ryder has in his locker. David Lynch is the first name that comes to mind, with a familiar blend of humanity that exists within and outside of nature that the creator of blue velvet and, in particular in the case of coincidence of titles, inner empirehas studied throughout his career.

This Inside places Rory Alexander’s nameless man in a strange landscape (filmed in Ryder’s hometown of Gloucester) trying to locate his missing mother. We’re assuming he’s just been released from some sort of facility, as there are flashbacks to the medical search rooms, though like much of the story, nothing is stated as fact. They cast him in the place of a father-figure character (Mark Rylance, who lends the role a friendly but scared world-weariness) and goes to work in his garage.

Strange introspective scenes follow, as the Man experiences visions of his mother, who seems to have a deep connection to the surrounding forest. Ryder makes good use of this image of the forest. The branches and trees stretch in the breeze while his mother seems to be in a parallel space.

It is as if he has crossed into a different sphere. These visions drive Man to travel and keep searching. He runs into a possible sister and has a physical argument with her partner and his possible ex-friend. Again, the ‘possibilities’ add up, and the strength of these will depend on the taste of the audience.

One strong scene is where the Man is persuaded by a group of guys to visit the brothel cunningly named The Fairy Queen. While he is there, he meets a prostitute who he believes to be his long-lost mother. An attack of color and light in the style of Nicolas Winding Refn places us in the mental space of someone experiencing a nervous breakdown.

Where the film doesn’t do too well is in its use of Kathryn Hunter’s voiceover. While it has undoubted cadence and tone, it’s overused and becomes more of a distraction than it should be.

Ultimately, the film is a surprising tale of oddities. It is also a melancholic reflection on loneliness and illness. A touch of folk-horror (everyone seems to be in an uproar right now) and rural mystery establishes Ryder’s position as a filmmaker with much promise. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

INLAND opens in UK cinemas on June 16.

Blinking Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

robert w.monk