À l'intérieur AKA Inside (2007) Unrated Review
Written by: skfan
I realize that I'm coming into this film a little late and by now just about everyone has had they're say on it. That being said after watching this little French shocker for the second time recently I couldn't help but put in my two cents .
First off I want to start off by saying one thing that really bothers me. If this is the goriest film you've ever seen and you call yourself a horror fan what exactly have you been watching for the last thirty odd years? There is no arguing that "Inside" is a very graphic and realistically violent film but to any seasoned gore hound there isn't really anything new in terms of gore and it certainly is at least a few gallons away from being the bloodiest.
The one thing that does separate this film from others in the gore department is the high production values and the context in which the violence is shown. That of course bring me to the second point I have thats been mentioned by others. Thats of course the fact that the lead actress and the character that a majority of the violence is directed towards is nine months pregnant and about to give birth.
Its the key plot point of the film and is a rather interesting little kink in the normal women in peril/home invasion story that the film's plot is structured around. The fact that the lead is pregnant is also a great way to create sympathy and concern from the viewer which the filmmakers realize and use to their full advantage. That being said though for that reason this isn't the type of film a young mother or certainly not an expecting one should probably see because there are some pretty nasty scenes involving the mother to be and the safety of her own baby. I'd even go as far as to say that unless you're a seasoned horror fan and can handle extreme violence you probably should just stay clear of this title.
Ok with that out of the way lets actually talk about the film. The story is about as straight forward as it gets at least for awhile. The film fallows Sarah (Alysson Paradis) a young pregnant woman that was in a terrible car accident four months previously with her husband. Tragically her husband died but Sarah and their unborn child lived and now on Christmas eve she is about to give birth for the first time.
The accident took its toll on Sarah though, who is a professional photographer. She seems to be emotionally withdrawn into herself and doesn't seem willing or capable of accepting help from others and seems distant and estranged even with her own mother. On the night of Christmas eve Sarah spends the night alone with the plans of being picked up by her editor first thing in the morning and being brought to the hospital. It all changes though when a strange menacing middle age women knocks on her door demanding to be let in. Of course Sarah refuses, which seems to anger the women even more. What scares Sarah even more is the fact that the women knows her name and personal details about her.
Sarah calls the police but once they arrive and search the yard they can't find anyone. Somehow in the midst of all this though the mysterious women somehow got inside the house and once the police leave there is nothing between her and Sarah. Its in this first twenty minutes or so that the film is the strongest. Epically in the first few minutes after the women has gotten inside the house. There is one scene in particular that stands out as near iconic. Its a scene in which Sarah is sitting on the couch by herself after the police leave and the camera is angled just right so that you can see slightly into the shadowy areas behind her. At first it appears that theres nothing there but then suddenly for just a second you realize that the stranger has gotten into the house and is silently moving around. Its a scene that stands out and isn't something you'd always expect from an extremely gory film like "Inside" but there are scenes throughout the film that show that the filmmakers were clearly trying to make something more then just another torture porn/gore flick.
The suspense and buildup in the film don't last long though and it isn't long before things just explode into an over the top extremely gory mess. The unrated cut of the film has a running time of eighty-three minutes and roughly the last hour of that isn't much more then scene after scene of relentlessly graphic and brutal violence. The film's plot is littered with useless one dimensional secondary characters that served no other purpose then to be bags of blood and guts that explode and spray around the room in an instant. It wasn't a bad idea to introduce secondary characters into the film and at some points they are necessary for the film's development but at times I do think the film would have been better off without a couple of the kills in favor of more one on one interaction between the two female leads. It could have added a lot more tension to the film but instead they simply went straight for the gore and left a lot of the film's continuity in the dust.
For pure art direction this film gets an A+ and the direction from first time directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury isn't far behind either. From the opening shots of the film with the car crash right down to the final scene everything looks beautiful and well thought out. It was quite interesting to watch the making of feature on the region 1 dvd where the directors talked about the work they put into the project before they even began shooting. Its really quiet shocking when you think about how young both of these filmmakers are and the fact that this is their first feature film. Its clear that they both have a very bright and long future in the film making business and its a real shame that they dropped out of the new "Hellraiser" project.
Every scene in the film has been thought out and planned to a perfection that is rare to see in a horror film these days and made me think about the seventies when filmmakers like Argento realized that you could film death scenes in artistic and beautiful ways. Although there isn't really anything beautiful about the realistic and ugly violence in "inside" it is clear that the same type of style, skill and painstakingly perfect attention to detail went into many of the scenes in this film as in some of the classic horror films of the seventies and early eighties.
Unfortunately I can't say the same thing about the screenplay of the film. Alexandre Bustillo also wrote the film but he didn't seem to bring the same level of commitment to his writing as he did to his direction. To be completely truthful this film had plot holes as big as whats between Paris Hilton's legs. Its strange too because for at least the first half of the film the character's motivations and the structure of the film all made sense but there was a distinct point where the film jumped the shark. Its never more noticeable then when the police arrive at the house for the second time. The way the group of men handle the situation is downright laughable and does take you out of the film to some extent.
Even some of the things that Sarah does later in the film don't make a lot of sense and seem to defy what she's done up to that point. Bustillo also decided at some point that like all horror films these days he needed to explain the villains' motives in a big "reveal scene" near the end of the film. The explanation for the woman's actions and motives don't ruin the film but they don't add to it either. The whole explanation just feels pointless and unnecessary and the film could have easily been just as successful if not more without it.
The acting was also very strong throughout including the supporting cast but its hard to compare any of their performances to that of Alysson Paradis as Sarah. Alysson, who's the sister in law of Johnny Depp is absolutely incredible in the lead role. It certainly isn't an easy role and the filmmakers actually had a hard time finding an actress that would be willing to be put through such a grueling role but Alysson manages to deliver it all and give a truly great performance.
And finally we have the gore, gore and more gore. For any gore hound there isn't really much to complain about here. The film literally drips with blood throughout and it probably has some of the most graphic uses of scissors to be shown on film that I can remember. That being said though, like I've already said don't go into the film expecting to see something you've never seen before in terms of all out gore. In fact on a second viewing I've come to realize that the film isn't even as graphic as I first thought. It simply just seems more graphic in some scenes because of the way its filmed (which is very well done) and the context in which its shown. Even so, the film still boast some truly impressive deaths that reminded me somewhat of the ones in "High Tension" from a few years ago. The film also can lay claim to one of the best head explosions of probably the last ten years and has more blood shown on camera in five minutes then any of the mainstream horror films coming out of North America these days have combined.
"Inside" is a tough film too review in many ways. One the one hand its a very entertaining and tightly edited gorefest with just enough artistic merit to separate it from the pack. On the other hand though its far from the "modern classic" that many people are labeling it. The script just has too many holes and there are certain little touches to the film that not only drag in down into the "just good" category but will also date it terribly. The best example of this is the use of a CGI baby inside the womb that is shown throughout the film that already feels slightly cheap and pretentious. It wasn't terrible CGI and didn't really bother me but I can only imagine how it will look ten years down the road. Overall though I really enjoyed the film from start to finish and certainly recommend it to anyone thats looking for a little more of an extreme horror film. Just go into it knowing what to expect and don't think you're going to be watching a future classic of the genre.