A review of THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR
Why do we enjoy feeling unsettled? As awful of a feeling as it seems, it’s a feeling we all seem to crave. Is it because with everything that unsettles us daily, do we want to know that others feel it too? The God Inside My Ear opens with a lot of unsettling imagery — a bleeding ear, an angry looking child, a way too close-up shot of teeth. And even though these images come back and make sense in the context of the film, it doesn’t make them any less disturbing.
When we first meet our main character, Elizia, she’s going through what can only be described as the breakup from hell. Her boyfriend has joined a cult and shortly following the break she starts to believe she’s receiving messages from God and “the beyond”. We can assume the presence of the messages stem from the sudden and unexpected breakup, and Elizia is struggling with knowing her boyfriend has left her for a cult. In their heartbreaking breakup scene, Elizia asks him “who” he’s leaving her for, and he explains that it’s not a “who”, but a “what”.
What seems to be painful for her and the audience, is that he’s not choosing a different human connection over her. He’s finding comfort in something non-human.
The camera technique, from the start of the film to the ending, sets the feel for the entire movie. There are a lot of very quick shots of people sitting still — eerily still. Though unsettling, I immediately felt an instant connection with Elizia; she’s a fantastic representation of someone going through heartbreak while potentially struggling with mental illness. The scene where Elizia can’t seem to get out of bed for work because she’s so distraught is entirely too relatable. But the most chilling part of it is when a voicemail plays from her boss, insisting she come back to work — a horrible reminder that life goes on, regardless of your personal mental state.
Aside from her boyfriend leaving her, there are other things that seem to overwhelm Elizia. She’s faced a hard loss and now has to learn how to be responsible for herself. Her hatred for adulthood, essentially, is exemplified in her dislike of being called “Ms. Cummings”. Elizia experiences several visions as well, and in one she talks to a little girl. This exchange is more evident and symbolic of her distaste of growing older and the compromise one makes as an adult (she even talks about preferring sandwiches without the crust, but as an adult, she eats it).
Elizia’s perception of herself and others is another way she seems incredibly relatable. She claims she only dates men that are crazier than her, showing her standards for others are even lower than the standards for herself. This lack of self-confidence is a reflection of the childlike qualities that tend to shine through in even the most self-described “stable” adult — the realization that no one can take of her anymore, and that she’s on her own.
Elizia spirals even more and even becomes something of a conspiracy theorist (at one point she ponders the existence of chemtrails). Many people turn to extremism (cults, conspiracy theories) when they feel alone and crave explanation for the things they don’t understand.
And Elizia craves explanations.
So many aspects of the film hit the nail on the head, especially the strange commercials from the beyond that appear for Elizia. It gives off a serious Heaven’s Gate vibe, and it’s downright creepy. At times the screen splits and the confusing imagery continues, which places you in an almost abstract place while watching the film — totally appropriate and adding to the pre-existing anxiety you feel as a viewer.
Though there are some supernatural aspects to The God Inside My Ear, I don’t feel Elizia is “haunted”, per se. I find that Elizia’s haunting is her own psychosis, which is scarier than any supernatural entity.
What’s more terrifying than your own mind turning against you?
What I found with The God Inside My Ear is that in all the confusion, the plot begins to slow about halfway through the film. The oddity is certainly consistent, but as an audience, we don’t necessarily learn as much as we did in the first half of the movie. I want more explanation for the boyfriend’s abrupt departure in Elizia’s life. I want to know the root of Elizia’s spiraling psychosis. I just want more.
And the end left me with questions — more questions than I had at the start.
But still, even by the end of the film, The God Inside My Ear remains insightful, beautifully shot, and intriguing.
The God Inside My Ear was directed by Joe Badon and stars Linnea Gregg as Elizia.