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Eerie Indie ‘Within’ Makes Debut on Lifetime

Lifetime will premiere an independent feature, “Within,” on July 31, representing an interesting if rather odd fit for the cable network.

Within A spooky if low-key horror flick that’s part “The Sixth Sense” meets “The Bad Seed,” the movie was directed by Hanelle Culpepper, a first-time filmmaker. Mostly, it plays like an over-sized “The X-Files” episode and is anchored by strong performances from two child actors: Mia Ford (left), whose character, Rachel, keeps seeing corpses walking around; and Sammi Hanratty, her creepy new friend.

It’s not great, by any means, but shot in and around L.A. in less than three weeks, it’s reasonably suspenseful and certainly a departure from the standard Lifetime fare. Frankly, I’m still a little puzzled why the network would pick it up, but it’s become part of an increasingly popular pattern, with movies making a pit stop on cable (see Syfy’s gore-infused Saturday schlock menu) en route to DVD release.

If nothing else, “Within” (which has already played at a few festivals) marks Culpepper as a young director with some promise, and serves Lifetime viewers a departure from their usual “Women and the men who wronged them” movies. It’s only too bad there’s no longer a regular home for this sort of out-of-the-box scheduling, where a network might unearth the occasional unexpected gem.

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