For many a film fan, the idea of a prison drama may be a rather tired trope. In reality there are so many stories that can unfold behind bars and this is why directors keep going to the well and exploring this darker side of our society. Irish director Frank Berry does a great job of exploring the vulnerabilities of a young person being dragged in to the prison system.

Michael Inside follows the story of Michael McCrea (Dafhyd Flynn) whose house is raided after his friend asks him to hold some cocaine. Sent to prison for two months he learns that he has to stand up for himself or be swallowed up by the system. Even before he enters prison life, Berry sets the tone of making all of his shots seem grey, sombre and bleak, giving the viewer the sense of no matter what happens it is not going to be a positive outcome.

It quickly becomes clear that Michael has fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Michael Inside

Not really knowing what to do once in prison he is exploited by his prison guardian/mentor David (Moe Dunford). It turns out that David is a bit of a nut job who uses Michael as his pawn. Dunford’s role, albeit small is impactful and really gives the viewer a sense of prison politics and how easily influenced people inside can be.

If Dunford is the impact, then Flynn is the balance in the film. The quietly spoken Irishmen could be any teenager who has got on the wrong side of the law. The inner struggle of wanting to fit in and wanting to survive is one that Flynn demonstrates expertly. There are times when the pacing of the film seems a little slow, but for me that enhances the idea of being a fly in the wall in a prison, having no concept of time, just waiting it out.

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Dir: Frank Berry

Scr: Frank Berry

Cast: Dafhyd Flynn, Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford, Robbie Walsh, Steve Blount and Hazel Doupe

Prd: Donna Eperon, Tristan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan and Keith Potter

DOP: Tom Comerford

Country: Ireland

Year: 2017

Runtime: 96 mins

Michael Inside is in cinemas from 15th September