A boring, forgettable romance that has little emotional power
Boy falls in love with a girl. Boy dies in a horrible accident. Girl grieves until the boy reaches out to her from beyond the grave. Boy and girl reconnect. Sound familiar?
This is basically the plotline of Robert Zemeckis’ 1990 movie Ghost, the box office smash that caused many a moviegoer to break down in tears before taking up pottery classes.
It’s also the plotline of The In Between, a new romantic movie on Netflix. Does it deserve a spot on your watchlist? Or should you bury it away forever? Well, that depends. If you love nothing more than an evening in, sat on your sofa with a box of hankies by your side and a weepie on the TV, you might get some pleasure from this. But if you’re on the lookout for a love story with quality writing and surprising plot turns, then forget it!
The movie tells the story of Tessa (Joey King) and Skylar (Kyle Allen) who meet at a local theatre while watching the 1986 arthouse classic Betty Blue. They immediately hit it off, although when they go their separate ways after seeing the movie it takes a while for them to bump into each other again. When they do reunite, the bonding process begins and before too long, they fall head over heels in love with one another.
Sadly, the course of true love does not run smooth. Tessa and Skylar fall out when they come to a disagreement about her other passion: photography. When he decides to leave town to be with his struggling father, more tensions rise between them. But before they can re-connect and strengthen their relationship, tragedy happens when Skylar is struck by a car and killed.
This should be the end of their relationship but when Skylar starts to make his ghostly presence known to Tessa, the two are finally able to resume their romance.
Now, the premise of the movie, while a little cheesy, isn’t altogether a bad one. It was used successfully in the aforementioned Ghost and fans of the 2005 movie Just Like Heaven will be familiar with the concept too. In theory, The In Between should be as watchable as those movies, despite borrowing traits of each. But with stale and cliched writing and unconvincing acting from the two usually reliable leads, this doesn’t work at all.
The biggest problem is the movie’s narrative, however. There are far too many flashback scenes so what we get is a traditional teen romance movie with a few spiritual elements tacked on.
We spend far too much time with the two when Skylar is still alive, and there are endless scenes of them making out, going on romantic boat trips, and having trivial conversations with one another. I appreciate the fact that, to have an emotional impact, we need to get to know the two lovebirds before Skylar’s death. However, as almost 90 minutes of the nearly 2-hour running time is devoted to their romance before the tragedy, it loses its sense of purpose.
Of course, if you’re a sucker for teen romances, then you probably won’t mind this. But even if you take away the afterlife elements and take this as a straightforward romantic movie, it still fails.
The dialogue is sappy and the turns in the relationship between Tessa and Skylar are predictable. While this might not matter if you’re a die-hard romantic, you might have more of a problem with the movie if you’re looking for character depth and a more engaging love story.
When it comes to the supernatural elements (which are few and far between), they are superficially played out. There is no real explanation of what ‘the in between’ is, despite having a character in the movie that has written a book on the subject. We don’t quite know what life is like for Skylar in the other dimension and we don’t really know where his soul is going to end up. It’s clear that this part of the movie is less important to the scriptwriters than the earthly romance.
There are hundreds of romantic movies on Netflix that are far better than this. Joey King has starred in a fair few of them herself, including those within The Kissing Booth series. If you’re looking for something to make you swoon and have fairytale dreams about your own love life, your time will be better spent with a movie that isn’t The In Between.
If you’re looking for a love story with supernatural elements, watch Ghost again instead. Consider watching A Ghost Story too, an exceptional and heart-wrenchingly sad movie starring Casey Affleck as a ghost who won’t leave the house he shared with his adored wife. Both of these movies are better than The In Between, which is a dull, forgettable affair that does nothing to add to the ‘romantic haunting’ genre.
In short, this is a movie that will haunt you, but for all of the wrong reasons. The story won’t linger in your subconscious because of its emotional impact. It will stay with you as yet another regretful movie decision you have made during your lifetime. Unless, of course, you have a high tolerance level for maudlin romantic movies or you are currently living life beyond the grave, and you have no choice but to watch whatever the victim of your haunting puts on the telly!
Read More: The In Between Ending Explained
Verdict - 4/10