Film review: ‘Inside’

Brandon Montemayor , Columnist

Musical comedian Bo Burnham made his return to Netflix May 30, with his hauntingly intrapersonal special, “Inside.” The new special was a solo project written, directed, edited and shot by Burnham alone inside of his L.A. home throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This project is a far cry from his previous Netflix specials as Burnham drops the comedy routine for a claustrophobic journey into the headspace and emotional toll of the past year. “Inside” cuts between dramatic cinematography and still shots to dazzling musical numbers that touch on topics from the destructive power of the internet age to finding the comedy in tragedy.

The latter of those motifs seemingly being the goal of the project, as the special opens with an upbeat song from Burnham’s perspective about what he can do with his platform to help during this time. The answer he settles on is “healing the world with comedy.”

Burnham executes this aid throughout the special, obviously with humor and entertainment, but where the project succeeds moreover is in connecting and validating the difficulties of this day and age. Burnham manages to succeed where a lot of others fail in relating the mental and physical effects that social and digital isolation have. 

We see such effects in Burnham himself. He struggles with them in real time as the special starts upbeat and optimistic at first, then spirals into despair. Burnham can be seen visibly distressed and even candidly breaks down as fragments of his declining mental health slip through the performance. 

The ending sequence sees Burnham get up and finally open the door that has been in the room the entire time. Burnham peers out from the cracked door, filled with agoraphobia, and walks out, locking himself out. The camera then pans out to show Burnham himself watching in a “Truman Show”-esque scene, revealing that he never actually left the room. 

“Inside” is an emotional piece that will leave the viewer reeling in a state of reflection. 

From all of the out-of-touch attempts at relating to the public throughout this year from masks on sitcoms to celebrities singing from their private homes, Burnham manages to actually strike a chord with what is ultimately an impactful and cathartic performance piece.  

Click here to watch the trailer for Bo Burnham’s “Inside,” now streaming on Netflix.