Subverting Home Invasion Tropes

Big scares and surprising frights fill director John-Paul Panelli’s They’re Inside. Deconstructing and subverting home invasion movies like The Strangers, the bruising thriller is one of 2019’s best horror movies. Provocative and neatly constructed, its eighty-some minutes fly by with stylish direction and a capable cast. They’re Inside continually confounds expectations despite its unabashed embrace of found footage techniques.

A filmmaker and her sister are filming a project in the proverbial cabin in the woods, when dark family secrets surface. Isolated by the increasingly common trope that their phones aren’t working and the house line stops working, a mounting air of suspense builds as the small crew focus on getting their movie done. Ignoring the signs of something wrong, two mysterious figures wearing masks appear. A growing awareness of a sinister presence nearby goes in unexpected directions and disturbing confrontations.

Burgeoning director Robin (Karli Hall) has brought along a small indie film crew, made up of a few friends and her sister (Amanda Kathleen Ward). She has a strained relationship with the sister, which feeds into the emotional undercurrent running throughout They’re Inside.

…a roller coaster ride into terror

They’re Inside is ingeniously designed, exploring dark themes through the common tropes found in such movies as The Strangers and Them. It’s an intelligent script and the unknown cast are up for the job, even if the low-budget pedigree leaves a few rough edges. Panelli has crafted an interesting movie that isn’t just satisfied with making your heart race. He goes for the jugular, dropping a couple unexpected bombshells. Visceral and messy at times, there’s a nasty edge that makes the movie.

Indie thrillers sometimes fall flat through sheer inertia, repeating the same cliches found in more popular flicks. That is not the case here. Surprising frights, solid character development and creepy villains make They’re Inside a real winner. They’re Inside has gleeful fun subverting your expectations. One of this year’s best thrillers, it’s a roller coaster ride into terror.


Struck from the movie’s digital intermediate, the low-budget production receives a decent 1080P presentation. The 2019 movie has average detail in largely pedestrian picture quality. If not for the rampant banding and posterization evident in the AVC encode, it may have even scored higher in the video category. As is, They’re Inside offers decent clarity and sharpness befitting most indie films made today.

The 83-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. Presented at its intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there’s nothing particularly wrong except clipped black levels in a few scenes. Shadow delineation could be better.


Not a surprise for an indie horror project these days, this Blu-ray lacks lossless audio. Given the low-budget nature of They’re Inside, it’s not so bad for the basic surround mix heard in adequate 5.1 Dolby Digital. Minor surround effects add a little atmosphere but most of the action takes place across the front soundstage. This is serviceable audio with limited separation and sparing directionality. Don’t expect much bass.

Secondary 2.0 Dolby Digital is included. Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in a yellow font.


Epic Pictures offers up #16 in their Dread line of releases. Fairly loaded for indie horror, the Blu-ray includes two separate commentaries and two short films from the director worth checking out.

Audio Commentary With Director John-Paul Panelli and Writer Schuyler Brumley – A friendly conversation and discussion of what worked, the tribulations of indie filmmaking, and other production tidbits.

Audio Commentary With Director John-Paul Panelli – This solo commentary is more focused on specific details making the movie and Panelli’s working process.

Teaser Trailer (00:40 in HD)

60 Second Trailer (01:10 in HD)

90 Second Trailer (01:37 in HD)

Loop (05:00 in HD; 2.0 Dolby Digital) – An interesting short film from director John-Paul Panelli about a man stuck in a time loop. Told without dialogue, the actor pull it off.

Paranormal Ex-tivity (11:08 in HD; 2.0 Dolby Digital) – A mildly funny short film from director John-Paul Panelli about a man living with the ghost of his deceased girlfriend.

Behind The Scenes –

Aaron Mask Time Lapse (00:31 in HD) – Time-lapse video shows the extensive make-up being applied in stages.

Joanna Mask Time Lapse (00:23 in HD)

Original Ax Chop (01:55 in HD)

Alex Rinehart Audition Tape (05:01 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

They're Inside
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Riffing on established home invasion thrillers, the bruising movie’s tight direction and solid cast churn out one of the year’s best indie movies.

User Review
3 (2 votes)

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