Those who fell victim to the exaggerated animosity directed at Amber Heard during the Johnny Depp trial — as chronicled in the “Depp v. Heard” docuseries — will unfortunately have fresh ammunition thanks to “In the Fire,” a pretty horrifying Starring actor , which she also produced, the film is unlikely to generate many sparks beyond those of the morbidly curious.
Made as a shoestring budget Italian-American co-production, the film is debuting simultaneously in theaters and digital and on-demand, a logical strategy as the theatrical box office should catch fire quickly.
Set in the 1890s, the film stars Heard as New York doctor Grace Burnham, who travels to a small and remote plantation in a remote location to treat a young boy, Martin (Lorenzo McGovern Zaini). The locals began to believe that the child was some kind of demon bringing misfortune to their village.
Grace—alien, a term used before it became known as psychiatry—allows that the boy is different, but rejects any supernatural explanation, telling her skeptical father (Eduardo Noriega) and caring priest (Luca Calvani), “It’s about science and we’ll work it out as one.”
But aside from the mismatched eyes, questions about what exactly makes the boy different remain sketchy and the source of a not-so-convincing mystery: Possessed? a mutant? Some kind of ESP or telekinesis?
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Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to find out, as the villagers, led by another cleric (Yari Gugliucci), are already in pitchfork storm mode, preparing the prospect of a violent encounter.
Directed by Conor Allyn (who shares script credit with two others), the film limps from one interlude to the next. Heard’s performance can respectfully be described as stiff and underdeveloped, except when she erupts into righteous rage at the backwardness of Martin’s would-be tormentors.
Heard has made more news in courtrooms than on screen since co-starring in 2018’s “Aquaman.” The sequel to the DC superhero franchise is slated for release later this year, though the size of her role has been the subject of speculation based on the trailer. .
Whatever one’s opinion of Heard — and after the trial, it seems many people have formed it, however potentially ill-informed — her acting career will clearly come under extra scrutiny thanks to her stint in the tabloids.
Generating publicity for a small film that might otherwise come and go with minimal notice is a classic double-edged sword. “In the Fire” didn’t have to be great to add those embers, but in terms of harnessing attention, the movie had to be a lot better than this one.
“In the Fire” opens October 13 in select theaters, on demand and digitally. It has an R rating.