There are few things better than when a good idea blossoms into a great movie. It’s What’s Inside, written and directed by Greg Jardin, achieves this rare feat. DIY in both aesthetic and narrative build, it suggests a labor of love. The premise is simple: a group of old college friends party at a big house the night before one of the gets married. Things seem sinister before anything bad has even happened. Or maybe the bad things already happened a long time ago.

Reuben (Devon Terrell) is marrying Sophia (Aly Nordlie), but Sophia has not been invited to this Big Chill-esque nocturnal reunion-of-sorts. Shelby (Brittany O’Grady), our ostensible lead, shows up with boyfriend Cyrus (James Morosini) in the midst of some relationship turbulence. There’s also Nikki (Alycia Debnam-Carey), an influencer beauty, Dennis (Gavin Leatherwood), a trust-fund baby, and Brooke (Reina Hardesty) and Maya (Nina Bloomgarden). The final guest, Forbes (David Thompson), shows up late and with some mystery about him. A presumed successful tech bro, Forbes brings a highfalutin party game to level-up the night. And boy does it ever.

Kept in a suitcase and configured in such a way that only Forbes (and maybe only the smartest of the friend group) can operate, once the games begin things can weird and dangerous fast. This review will not spoil the ins and outs of this development, which constitute the whole of the plot. Suffice it to say identities are tested, intentions measured, and truths outed. After nearly a decade since college, past sins come to light in equal measures of comedy and violence.

Though it’s an ensemble piece, this film’s engine is O’Grady, who is absolutely superb here. After standing out in The White Lotus‘ first season, this young actress shines in It’s What’s Inside, keeping a twisty plot on the right track with a performance that feels more anchored than any of her peers (intentionally so, I might add). Thompson is also a highlight; his facial expressions as Forbes (well, we’ll just say beyond) mirror the absurd turns events take. There is a second-act decision that accelerates the picture from interesting to engaging. Jardin does well to rev up the energy and keep it running––achieved through outsized acting, quickly paced editing, some well-placed neon lighting, and an uptempo sound design. It’s What’s Inside is, above all, a heck of a good time. It’s clever, it’s nutty, it’s fun.

It’s What’s Inside premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and will be released by Netflix.

Grade: B+

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