If you're a horror freak (and let's face it, you're hanging out at a website called FEARnet, so you probably are) then you've probably already heard a little buzz about this new French horror film called Inside. (Or ? l'intérieur, if you prefer the French.) Much of what's been printed so far about Inside has focused mainly on its more ... visceral assets. That is to say: the blood, the guts, the stabbings, the gore. And while it's true that the flick finds some very new and very explicit ways to skewer the human body, and while it's also true that Inside is absolutely soaked all the way through with blood, there's another (better) reason that the horror press has been drooling over the film:
It's really damn scary.
"A pregnant girl spends one night terrorized by a seriously disturbed woman." That's the whole of the plot, really. Co-creators Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury are apparently well-aware of how "protective" we get around pregnant women, and they exploit this natural reaction for all its worth. As a plain old "invasion / survival" horror tale, Inside works impressively well, but beneath the surface of what many will dismiss as a mindless gore-fest ... there lies some psychological subtext that I'd love to pick apart a little more. Part of the film's success lies with its basic simplicity (psycho vs. victim plus one) and part with the co-directors' gift for staging some disconcertingly effective set-pieces, but I'd say it's mostly the pacing ... and the complete lack of predictability. After a quick set-up, Inside moves like poop through a sick infant. It just keeps upping the tension with each passing victim, and its sudden, ferocious bursts of stunning violence should keep any brave flick-watcher on his toes.
I first saw the film in September '07 when it played as part of the Toronto Film Festival's midnight slate. Here are some of my thoughts from my original review: Some may call it sick and others may call it shamelessly ugly garbage, but as someone who's seen hundreds of horror movies from every corner of the globe -- I'm convinced that ? l'intérieur is some sort of maniacal mini-masterpiece. Or if it is just 85 minutes of well-polished genre crap, then it's crap that had me cringing, cheering, clapping, howling and gaping slack-jawed at the screen. It's an audaciously gruesome little flick, there's no doubt about that, and I guarantee it'll cause some controversy once the mainstream catches a whiff. (And I'm very curious to see what my female colleagues think of the film.) I don't mind admitting that I left the screening more than a little shaken, but like I said: I've seen too many horror movies to count, and if this one left me with a few butterflies in the belly, you should take the admission for what it's worth: ? l'intérieur is unrelenting, brutal and stunningly violent. It's also very well-crafted, powerful, creepy and scary on a murky primal level.
(I wrote that well before most of the horror press got to see the movie, and I was very pleased to read the reviews as my carnivorous colleagues enjoyed the flick as much as I did.)
I got to see the film again only a few weeks later (at the mega-awesome Fantastic Fest in Austin), and since I'd just witnessed its madness, I was able to focus a little more on the audience reaction. Given that 98% of the world's horror freaks will be watching the flick from inside their own living room, you'll just have to trust me when I say (despite those durn subtitles) this movie tore the house down. I watched seasoned horror pros shriek and shiver and scream and applaud. A few weeks later I was in London when Frightfest screened the flick and...
You get my point. I've watched this movie with the cream of the horror-fan crop in Toronto, Austin and London ... and everyone freaking loves it. So as much as we like to poke fun at the Weinstein brothers for "shelving" all their horror movies, we owe them a thumb's up for delivering this fine French import in such solid fashion. I've no idea what the DVDs in other "regions" looks like, but here's what we've got in North America: A fine (uncut) anamorphic widescreen transfer and the original French audio track in Dolby Digital 5.1 -- English subtitles included, obviously. If you REALLY hate the subtitles, there's also an English dub track that's actually not bad ... as far as dub tracks go. Since I'd seen the movie so many times, I opted for the English and found it fairly solid. For future viewings I'll stick with the French, but thanks for the option. (Spanish subtitles are also available.)
Another added bonus: A 51-minute behind-the-scenes piece that will certainly please fans of the film. (Yes, it's got English subtitles and no, there's no dub option this time around.) Also included is the original theatrical trailer for Inside as well as trailers for Diary of the Dead, Storm Warning and The Mist.
The last thing I ever want to do is "overhype" a new horror flick, and I'd hardly call Inside an "instant classic," but there's something a little bit special about this fast-paced, outrageously nasty, and undeniably audacious horror movie that makes me happy to have it in my collection. Love it or hate it, I have a feeling the horror sites will be talking about Inside for a long time to come.