"In The Fire" explores a 19th-century mystery where a young boy with mysterious powers faces accusations of being the devil reincarnated. A tale of hope amid darkness.
In the Fire, directed by Conor Allyn, takes us on a journey to the 1890s, a time when the science of the mind was still in its infancy. This film revolves around the character of Doctor Grace Burnham, an alienist (a psychiatrist in modern terms). She embarks on a mission to a remote plantation to meet her young patient, Martin Marquez. Grace had been in contact with Martin's mother, Isabella, and firmly believed that the boy was not possessed by the devil, as the locals believed, but was suffering from a mental disorder. As she arrived at the Marquez villa, she encountered a desolate place with rotting crops, a hint of something eerie, but Grace was determined not to yield to unscientific explanations. However, with a somewhat predictable plot, average performances, and a few flaws, In the Fire fails to leave a lasting impression.
Upon her arrival at the plantation, Grace was shocked to learn of Isabella's tragic death. Martin's father, Don Nicolas, was devastated and showed little faith in his son's recovery. Father Antonio managed to convince Nicolas to let Grace examine his son, at least until the next train arrived. As Grace met Martin, she discovered that the young boy carried an overwhelming guilt within him. He believed he was responsible for his mother's death, a death he had witnessed while riding a horse with her. Isabella had warned him to stop, but he was so engrossed in the experience that he ignored her pleas. In her attempt to stop him, she tragically injured herself, leading to the belief that it was Martin who had caused her death. The burden of guilt on this young boy's shoulders was unimaginable, and Grace understood that she was his only hope.
Father Gavira, the head of the village church, was convinced that Martin was the devil reincarnated. He claimed to have received a divine message warning him about Martin. From locust attacks to a deadly plague, every misfortune was blamed on Martin. The village began to crumble with the boy's birth, and Grace realized it was nearly impossible to change the villagers' beliefs. Things took a darker turn when two children died after accepting food from Martin. Grace couldn't explain these deaths, but she was sure that there was a logical explanation and that Martin wasn't responsible. Fueled by Gavira, the villagers tormented Grace and Father Antonio, who had begun to believe in Grace's methods. Don Nicolas did his best to protect his family, but the situation grew increasingly volatile. Grace believed that relocating Martin was the only solution, and her presence helped mend the strained relationship between father and son. Nicolas made an effort to understand his son better, and Martin, in turn, assisted his father in daily tasks.
A fire was deliberately set in Nicolas' stable under the church's instructions. Nicolas entered to extinguish it but was viciously attacked by a man seeking vengeance for the recent child deaths. Grace intervened to save Nicolas but was also attacked. In the midst of the chaos, Martin entered the stable, but his attention was drawn to a toy. The attacker was about to strike when Martin's gaze caused a burning log to land on him, setting the man ablaze. Grace was a witness to this incident and couldn't find a scientific explanation. Martin wasn't an ordinary human, and Grace began to doubt herself. It was Father Antonio who restored her confidence in her mission. He believed that she was their only hope to guide them through the darkness. Grace returned to her work, assuring Martin that he wasn't to blame for the suffering of others. Through their sessions, she discovered how deeply afraid he was, especially after losing the person who made him feel safe - his mother, Isabella. Martin had convinced himself that he brought death and that he was the cause of the village's misfortunes.
As typhus spread through the village, Martin was once again blamed. The villagers turned to Father Gavira for guidance, and he believed it was time to eliminate the supposed devil. The Marquez family prepared to leave the village, but it was too late.
The villagers, led by Father Gavira, descended upon the Marquez plantation with violence on their minds. Torches and weapons in hand, they turned into a mob, seeking to execute the boy. Grace stayed with Martin in his room, trying to distract him by encouraging him to play the violin, but it had little effect. She watched helplessly as the frenzied crowd overran the main gate. It was a desperate race for survival, and Grace took it upon herself to protect Martin. Father Antonio aided their escape through the cold cellar, choosing to confront the enraged villagers. He tried to reason with them, but it was too late. Father Gavira fatally stabbed him and ordered his followers to find Martin.
In the ending of In the Fire, Grace and Martin are captured by the villagers as they attempt to escape. Grace is held captive, and Martin sits on the ground, awaiting execution at the hands of Gavira. In a final act of desperation to protect his son, Nicolas enters on horseback, despite his injuries. The villagers attack Nicolas, and this sparks something within Martin. While he had calmly awaited his execution, he couldn't bear to see his father suffer. In a moment of astonishing power, Nicolas gains control over the men, pushing them away with just a gesture. All the while, Grace is in turmoil, struggling to comprehend what she's witnessing. When Father Gavira aims his gun at Martin, the young boy takes action and kills Gavira with the man's own weapon. The villagers are terrified and flee for their lives.
Martin was partially aware of the incredible powers he possessed, but he kept them hidden, fearing the consequences. He wasn't responsible for all the village's misfortunes, but due to the mistreatment of him and his family, a part of him grew to resent the village and its people. In a more accepting environment, he might have thrived. Martin's selflessness in using his powers to save his father's life demonstrated that he wasn't devoid of empathy; he cared about those who loved him. He could have wreaked havoc on the village, but it was only when he saw his father under attack that he reacted. To label Martin as the devil reincarnated was a grave injustice. He was a gifted child with inexplicable abilities, and he needed love and understanding to navigate the world. Clearly, there was much more for Grace to learn about Martin, but her lack of prejudice against him promises a smoother journey ahead.
As the villagers disperse, Martin, Nicolas, and Grace reach the train station. Nicolas implores Grace to take his son away and leave behind all she has witnessed. He knows that his son is different but believes that Martin deserves a better life. Grace promises to care for Martin, and ultimately, Nicolas succumbs to his injuries. Grace and Martin board the train, embarking on a journey away from the prying eyes of the villagers and into an uncertain future. As a psychiatrist, Grace now faces the challenge of finding a bridge between science and the supernatural. In the end, In the Fire doesn't vilify Martin; it concludes with a note of hope.