The Horror The Horror Day 5: Inside (aka: À l’intérieur)
Day five of our horror season brings us 2007 French horror, Inside or À l’intérieur to give it it’s native title. France has produced some great and innovative horror over the past few years and this and 2008 Martyrs (more on that film later this month) are two of the stand out choices. Inside is the directorial debut for directing partnership Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, who claim to be heavily influenced by Italian horror master and Towatchpile favorite, Dario Argento. The beauty of this film is its minimalist approach to setting and cast, there is only one main setting and only the two female leads, Alysson Paradis and Béatrice Dalle take up almost all of the screen time, along with lots and lots of blood.
The opening shot of the film shows a baby in utero, this baby belongs to Alysson Paradis’ character Sarah Scarangelo, and here is where we get a our first taste of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillos innovative style, as, when Sarah is involved in a car accident, we are also treated to shots of how this affects the baby growing inside her. The story then moves forward a few months to Christmas Eve, where Sarah is now heavily pregnant and still suffering from depression after the accident that killed her husband. Sarah is to be induced the next day and has been advised to go home and have a relaxing evening, which is what she is doing, until there is a knock on the door.
The knock is from a mysterious woman, Béatrice Dalle, credited as La Femme. The woman asks if she can use the telephone to call somebody for assistance, Sarah declines, saying that her husband is sleeping and she does not want to disturb him. The woman tells Sarah that she knows her husband is dead and that she is lying. After persistent attempts to gain entrance to the house Sarah, who is a photographer, attempts to take a photo of the woman and then call the police. When the police arrive the woman has gone. Sarah recognizes the woman from previous photos she has taken and surmises that this woman may be following her, she decides to investigate further at a later date and goes to bed. Sarah is then woken by the woman who is now stood in her bedroom holding a pair of scissors and making it clear that she has come for one thing, Sarah’s unborn baby.
Its from here that the film develops into a frenetic bloodbath of survival for Sarah, as the woman is relentless in her quest for the baby. Its this section of the film where you can clearly see the Dario Argento influences, lots of blood, a thumping score that accompanies the extreme violence, and there is a revelry in the continued assault on Sarah. The pace and execution of this second act is what elevates this film among the many who have tried similar ideas, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo are not afraid to push the audience with the violence, and create an uncomfortable and claustrophobic atmosphere, where,just when you think Sarah might have the upper hand, the woman is back again.
But would the fantastic direction and style of this film be enough without the two outstanding leads? Alysson Paradis’s Sarah takes more abuse than I’ve ever seen in a film, and all while being heavily pregnant (the character not Alysson herself). Its a great performance of fear, confusion and the unflinching will to protect her unborn child. Béatrice Dalle is probably best know in the UK for Betty Blue, and to be honest more for the poster than the film itself, I’m always curious as to how many of those students in the early 90’s who had the Betty Blue poster on their wall had actually seen the film, my guess is not many. Béatrice Dalle is terrifying. Not just in this film but in general. That is why this role is perfect for her, she is like some weird Stepford Wife Terminator, whose only mission is to get Sarah’s baby at any cost. The woman, or La Femme, is one of the great horror villains and Béatrice Dalle delivers a stellar performance in this film.
For casual horror fans I would give this warning, this film is not for the faint hearted, it’s brutal and it’s unrelenting, but if you have the stomach for it then its a powerful piece of horror cinema. For hardcore horror fans I think you will share my feelings that this is one of the greatest horror films of recent times.
Anyway peace out suckers! 8.5/10