Director: Jeff Hindenach
Writer: Jeff Hindenach
Time: 95 minutes
Review by Mike Szymanski
“Lost Inside” delves into the feelings of isolation and loneliness we all get, whether famous or never famous. It’s labeled a drama, but it’s very funny, too.
We’ve all dealt with isolation during these years of the pandemic, but for this movie it’s more than the pandemic, and even though it was shot during Covid quarantine, it’s a remarkable first-time film for the director and screenwriter.
This personal and introspective look at a guy’s self-isolation and fear of the world is both heartfelt, comic and clever.
The movie stars three newcomer actors who are wonderful and good-looking and will have promising futures in the entertainment industry. They are each unique in their own ways and play off each other exceptionally well in this small cast.
Spencer Scruggs is fantastic as Benji, a character who made his name essentially after a one-hit wonder under the name of Tucker Stills. He faced a lot of pressure from the industry, from the fans, and from the media, so he had a breakdown where he punched a photographer and then froze on stage during a performance.
Then, he holed up. His friends abandoned him, his girlfriend left, and his mother died and he was so afraid to come out of his room that he couldn’t go to her funeral.
The movie begins five years later and he is still holed up in his apartment and develops an imaginary friend played by an ultra-handsome Garrett Ryan. He is the comic relief, playing Beni’s inner psyche and somehow he looks like a rival rock star to Tucker Stills named Jordan Tyler, whom Benji was very jealous of and says he has no talent.
Jordan is a hysterical addition to the film, and Ryan plays him with puckish joy, popping in and out of Benji’s life at inappropriate times. He sits on the toilet talking to Benji who’s in the shower, and he smokes and flicks his ashes into the urn that contains Beni’s mother.
Benji hears on the radio that there are fans out there trying to find the former rock star and get him back on stage. He gets unnerved and paranoid about that when he hears it and it drives him further into isolation. His therapist tries to help him through it too, but has little success.
A nosy and irritating neighbor Sylvia played by Serra Naiman, moves in next door and coaxes him out of his apartment. She helps him deal with his agoraphobia.
It’s a rocky road, and his fear of coming out and back into the world is painful. They play a game throwing fruit snacks into each other’s glasses of wine and if they get it in they get to ask a personal question. He is safely sitting in the protective doorway of his apartment and she sits in the hallway.
When finally they get more intimate, she deals with his shaking and nervousness when she reaches out to even touch him. He runs back into his apartment when she tries to take him out of the house and out for a drive.
Finally, it turns out she perhaps has some other ulterior motive for getting to know him.
The whole movie came about after Jeff Hindenach won the Best Screenplay of the Year at the GO International Film Festival in Washington, D.C. He decided to make the movie himself, calling in favors and using his own money to prove that he’s a budding filmmaker worth paying attention to — and he proved it.
Hindenach says, “The movie was my take on the pandemic, without actually using the pandemic in the script. I wanted to portray the feelings of isolation that plagued me during the lockdown.”
The film was shot with the small and intimate cast during the height of Covid and it seems like only one person wears a mask through it when Benji goes to the store.
As his first film, he obviously poured his heart and soul into the project and gushes, “I was lucky enough to find an extremely talented team, including Unni Rav, my cinematographer, and three actors who are ahead of their time, especially Serra Naiman and Garret Ryan, who took advantage of their first time in front of a camera.”
The director adds, “We bonded in that tiny apartment in Sunnyvale for a month, locked down because the pandemic was still raging. My hope was to show the light and dark sides of both isolation and fame, providing laughs as well as tears.”
Already getting recognized at film festivals, the film is getting rave reviews from those who have seen it.
This is a film that everyone can identify with because everyone has experienced those painful embarrassing moments of awkwardness. In this case, Benji wrote a song he loved and then the world loved it and everything happened so fast with people asking for his next album.
His mother has a dark history, and he flashes back to her and their times together.
The cast spends a lot of time on the floor, which is why there are many photos of the three of them in various stages and positions looking up off the floor.
It is a proper feel-good film that the whole family can enjoy and brings up a lot of discussion in the process.
The final song that Benji sings that he created with his imaginary friend is called “Coward” and it’s remarkable.
The movie “Lost Inside” is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures, it is now available to rent or buy on Amazon, Apple, Vudu, Youtube, Vimeo and most cable providers. It will be released on Amazon Prime Video for free streaming at the end of November.