Inside (2007): France – directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Not rated by the MPAA – contains graphic violence and scissors
I was asked recently why I would like a movie like Inside, a film that is bleak and depressing and brutally violent. The question made me pause for a minute, because it is a hard movie to like.
Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is several months pregnant when she is involved in a terrible car accident. She is left bloody, but, while she and the baby survive, her husband does not. Fast forward a couple months and it is Christmas Eve. She visits the doctor and we learn that she is due to have labor induced the following morning. She’s dropped off at home to wait out the night.
There are a couple problems. The first is the nightmares she has while drifting to sleep. These, though, aren’t real. What is real is the woman knocking at her door late at night. She knows more about Sarah than a stranger ought to and is rather tenacious.
The terror sets in as Sarah realizes that the woman won’t leave and no one who stops by seems able to help. The action and violence ramp up until the film leaves the audience almost as bloody as the cast.
So why would I like such a movie? After some thought I came up with a couple reasons. To begin with, the film is remarkably crafted. The filmmakers put considerable time and effort into ensuring that every shot looks exactly right. This is a monumental achievement, especially for a horror film. The rest of the production comes together to provide an unrelentingly brutal experience. The acting and writing don’t get in the way or detract from the story and the violence. Again, this is rare for horror films, where many of them lose credibility the first time a character speaks aloud. To heighten the tension and horror the film is a mere 83 minutes long (in the unrated version) and I think just about every scene is essential.
From a craftsmanship point of view Inside is a rare success in the horror genre, and that is one reason I appreciate it. Another is the fact that audiences don’t often get the chance to see a film like this. Very few movies have ever messed with pregnant women to this extent, and with this much blood. It doesn’t try to be particularly shocking or exploitative; it just shows everything with a calm determination that is brutally effective.
I’m not sure I can say that I like the film. I can say that I appreciate the film for being well-made. It does what it sets out to do in a way few films manage to achieve. It is not a movie that I would choose to watch on a regular basis. There are parts where I enjoyed watching the terror unfold, sort of like when you’re on a roller coaster and it’s about to head downhill, except this coaster never gets back to the starting gate. It is an unpleasant experience that is difficult to watch at times. It is also an unqualified achievement as a horror movie, successfully being terrifying where so many films have failed.