The In Between

Starring: Joey King, Kyle Allen, Celeste O’Connor, John Ortiz, and Kim Dickens.

Directed By: Arie Posion

Where I Watched It: Paramount Plus

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

The Plot: A teenager (King) wakes up in a hospital room to find out that she survived and her boyfriend (Allen) did not. Soon after, she believes he is trying to contact her from the afterlife, and we get to explore their relationship through a heavy use of flashbacks.

What Works: I do want Joey King to be offered the kind of roles befitting her talent. She was so good in Hulu’s limited series The Act, and it would be nice to see her in more of that type of role.

That being said, it’s not that this film is bad, its just that it is just a simple film. The film works best if it could abandon the “ghost contacting me” part of the film that barely gets touched upon. Honestly, the majority of the film is flashbacks of the main couple, with interspersed moments in present day where our survivor experiences the stages of grief.

And because Joey King is a really solid actress, she elevates every moment, whether it feels like we’ve seen it before, or whether the film makes any sense at all. It doesn’t really matter to King, because she doesn’t just “collect a paycheck”, she fully shows up. The rest of the cast is fine. Celeste O’Connor, fresh from another film about ghosts, is typical catty best friend, but entertaining despite feeling interchangeable with any other best friend role in a teen movie.

I wish this had just been presented as a movie where we see this whole relationship through flashbacks after she wakes up at the end, only to find out at the end what Skylar’s (Allen) fate is. That might have worked, or at least highlighted the strength in the movie, while cutting out all the ghost jumbo jumbo.

What Doesn’t Work: Like I said, this film is trying to be a supernatural love story, and it fails. I’m not saying there isn’t a love story, or even potentially a better cut of this film, but presented as is, the focus is so much more on the flashbacks and developing our understanding for this couple, than it is selling us on the probability that Skylar is reaching out from the dead. Which means, the ending doesn’t quite land.

If we’re being honest, there is just a bunch of really cliche tropes throughout the film. You have teenagers watching foreign language films for some reason. To highlight how artsy they are? Even the non-foreign titles are throwback titles. These kids are too artsy to watch anything made in the last 30 years.

Tessa is a photographer, which leads to the hilarious line “Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be inside a camera?” No. What the hell. No one thinks about that. “I wonder what it would be like to be inside my IPhone.” These are not real thoughts.

I also took off points because hot preppy rich Skylar drives a Jeep. Because every single guy like him in every teen movie before him always drives a Jeep. it highlights how cool they are, and usually these characters hang out at beaches… which Skylar does.

The film has an opportunity to do some really interesting stuff with her being in foster care, but mostly it’s just a fact of her life. Her mom basically was a floozy, and now she lives in foster care.

I loved the scene where foster dad basically just says “Love hurts.” Like it’s a fact of life. This entire film is about how powerful this love was, supposedly, and he’s super dismissive with his foster daughter going through the stages of grief.

The truth is that, as you might expect, this film does not reinvent the wheel. It tries to do a lot, but can’t figure out how to balance all the themes. It’s a love story, but one in the past, because half of the couple is dead. It’s a ghost story, because the dead boyfriend is making some spooky lights flash, and she’s having vivid dreams. It wants to tackle the a theme like class differences, by making Skylar a preppy athlete headed for Brown, and Tessa just some girl in foster care. It chooses to give Skylar parents, only so they can experience divorce, and derail his plans, and create a fight with him and Tessa because her mother slept around and abandoned her so she doesn’t know what family is. It tries to do so much.

And then, when all else fails, the ending happens. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the shenanigans, but let’s just call them shenanigans. I Know I was supposed to be deeply moved, but i wasn’t. The ghost element wasn’t set up enough for that ending to work. Sorry sports fans.

The Blind Perspective: Luckily this film has audio description because it wouldn’t make a damn bit of sense without it. With the jarring shifts in time mixed with her seeing things, you have to be able to follow the timeline, and I don’t think that could happen without the description.

Final Thoughts: Just like how Tessa has a choice to make, you do too. Do you want another formulaic teen romantic drama that could have been different, but somehow feels all too familiar? Or do you want to spend two hours somewhere else? It’s not that The In Between is bad, it’s not good either. Ironically, it’s in between.

Final Grade: C

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