Content creators are a put-upon lot. There are no real overnight successes. Artists slave for years over their art, working off-hours, continually experimenting and learning, striving to be recognized by their peers and the world at large. When their big breaks come, they often do so with strings attached. World famous and celebrated actors, comedians, musicians, and writers have suffered and died impoverished and forgotten because they signed their lives away to the business side of their art and were then burned by the searing flames of stardom.
Director Naeem Mahmood’s short horror film In2truders (Trailblazer, 2018) is at its core a psychological thriller that is all about the master/slave relationship between industry and artists. Written by Paul Danquah, the film pits Caprice Bourret (Baywatch, Sharknado 5) as Ravana Serpentine, a star-maker who goes to extreme measures—to put it delicately—in order to acquire her talent against one-half of the identical twin pop duo Bloom Twins, who play Lumi and Narti.
Lumi refuses to sign a contract to join the NWR music label that is owned by Serpentine, thinking that she’s speaking for the duo of herself and Narti. She soon discovers, however, Narti has already signed. Thus begins an epic psychological battle for Lumi’s soul that involves her doctor (played by Doctor Who alum Samuel Anderson) and a range of other fearsome individuals who might be real or might be figments of her imagination. Rounding out the bigger names in the In2ruders cast are Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame as a face-painted crooner, British style icon Ricki Hall as a ringmaster, and Megan Burns, who played Hannah in 28 Days Later, as Whistler Silkwood.
In2ruders is enthralling to watch. Naeem Mahmood uses colorful Creepshow-style lighting, adjustments in frame speed, horrific makeups, and a soundtrack produced by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran fame to create a 20-minute fever dream that leaves a lasting impression. In this short amount of time, the filmmakers manage to evoke every possible emotion one typically associates with a horror film: disgust, shock, tension, revulsion. It’s all there. I actually winced at one particularly brutal whipping scene early in the film.
In2ruders might leave some viewers with a sense of “what the fuck did I just watch” the first time through. Also, seizure-prone viewers might want to avoid one of the earliest scenes that feature some intense strobes. But if you give it a chance, this film is a creepy, trippy ride through the mind of an artist who is struggling to maintain her independence from the machine.
In2ruders is screening at Deptford Cinema (39 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PQ London, United Kingdom) on Nov. 17, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. The screening includes a Q&A session with Naeem Mahmood.