Don't let her inside...
It’s day 5 of our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas Horror feature. Behind today’s door is the ruthlessly savage French horror Inside from 2007. This is a ridiculously brutal slasher movie. It should definitely not be watched by anyone with a weak stomach. Part of the New French Extremity era of French horror that did the rounds in the 2000s. Inside stands alongside movies such as Martyrs for its astonishing level of violence. This movie was actually remade in the US back in 2016. It starred another Awful Advent actor Rachel Nichols, from P2, and was pretty fucking bad.
Set on Christmas eve, this isn’t the most obvious Xmas horror. To be honest. The sheer horrific nature of the movie doesn’t lend itself well to festive themes. Still, we do have Christmas decorations, cold weather, and the timing is perfect. With that in mind, let’s spend a little time disgusting ourselves. Make this an early December film if you do want to check it out. You don’t want to ruin your Christmas and you will need some time to recover.
We’ve been on a bit of an end of the year run of themed features. We had K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween in October. We had a Fall Themed Horror movie month for November, Now It’s December and that can mean only one thing. It’s Awful Advent. We are reviewing a new horror for each of the days leading up to Christmas. That’s not all, we will also review a bonus movie for Christmas day itself. 25 horror movies to make your December just that little more frighteningly festive… Or should that be festively frightening? I am not sure, whatever.. It’s going to be scary.
The catch? All of the movies must be set around or feature Christmas. Movies based on a specific Christmas theme are even better. Christmas and horror have always gone hand in hand. There are tons of movies to look at and I expect you can probably predict a few right now. With that being said. Check back every day of December for something new.
Inside starts off with what appears to have been a violent two vehicle car crash. We see Sarah, played by Alysson Paradis, sitting in her car bleeding heavily. Evidently pregnant, she turns to her husband and calls his name. He doesn’t respond and it is clear that he has passed away. Months later, it is Christmas eve. Sarah has still not given birth and is undergoing an ultrasound. Deciding that they need to proceed with the birth. The doctor arranges for Sarah to come in the next day to be induced.
Sarah is incredibly depressed and has no tolerance for the people around her. She is moody and short with anyone that attempts to talk to her. Refusing her mother’s offer to stay with her that night and take her to hospital in the morning. Sarah prefers to enlist the help of her employer Jean-Pierre. Played by François-Régis Marchasson, Jean-Pierre arranges to pick her up at 6am and takes Sarah home.
Falling asleep in her chair, Sarah wakes up after a nightmare. Her doorbell rings so she gets up to see who it is. Talking through the door, the woman, played by Beatrice Dalle, claims that she needs to use her phone. There are riots in the city and she has broken down. Fearing violence, she needs to call for help. Sarah refuses prompting the woman to refer to her by name. Startled, Sarah threatens to call the police. Returning to her lounge, Sarah spots the woman staring at her through the patio window. Little does Sarah know, this is just the start of a night of terror.
It is no secret that Europe has been putting out some of the best horror movies over the past 20 years. Countries like Germany, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Spain and France have carved a new niche. They are all contributing to an incredible era of horror. There is something that stands out about French horror, however. Something disgusting. A good few of their movies are absolutely savage. The New French Extremity era of movies stands out for its sheer levels of gore and violence. Characterised by elements of body horror, revenge, and personal invasion. The New French Extremity genre does not consider a single thing to be sacred. If it can happen, it can be shown.
Characters suffer tremendously in what can potentially be described as studies in pain. Nothing is off bounds and the more shocking the better. Martyrs and Frontiere(s) are two of the most fitting examples. Movies like In My Skin and Haute Tension also fit the bill nicely. These movies do not play to type. They aren’t aiming to please the viewer and happy endings are at a premium. These movies potentially came about due to the public’s disdain for French horror. French viewers, as well as critics, did not value French horror. The industry was also not supporting it. Seeing it as almost a challenge, this new wave of directors aimed to shock. They absolutely succeed at that and have, in turn, garnered a cult following.
Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, Inside falls firmly into this category. Expect to see things that you would rarely see in an American movie. Inside is absolutely brutal. Featuring a ruthless, unidentified, woman invading the home of a heavily pregnant woman. The entire set up here is utterly grim and hopeless. La Femme’s is seemingly motiveless for much of the film. Sarah fights back with all she has. Her pregnant state leaves her lacking mobility and struggling to survive. This leads to tons of suspense and tension. Something which Inside has in spades.
Set in a small house consisting of only a few rooms. Inside feels claustrophobic and extremely intense. Opening scenes inside the house feature Sarah being harassed by an unknown woman. Standing ominously at the patio window, she cracks the glass and disappears. Sarah phones the police who are unable to find anything. Sarah, feeling more at ease, heads to bed. Already the tension is pretty high. The thought that somebody wants to get into your house is terrifying. The fact that La Femme does it so brazenly is shocking. With the woman, we have an incredibly imposing character. She is violent and extremely capable. On top of this she has, seemingly, no reasonable motive. Not initially, anyway.
La Femme enters the house while Sarah sleeps. As she looms over her bed, scissors in hand. It is impossible not to anticipate what is about to happen. An incredibly tense scene, it sets the tone for what is about to come. The entire first 20 minutes are a fine example of scene setting. It is the perfect way to build atmosphere. Sarah makes it into the bathroom and from here on out we have something of a waiting game. It’s hard not to appreciate the story telling. Managing to maintain a decent level of tension throughout. Inside doesn’t sag despite the confined setting.
Shot in chronological order, cinematography is excellent. Heavy use of greys, browns and blacks lend a sense of desperation and gloom to the film. Shots are framed perfectly to highlight how trapped Sarah is. Creative use of the camera helps relate to the viewer the frustration La Femme feels. Tight framing helps build up the scares. The total lack of light in certain scenes also feels very oppressive. It’s a well shot movie given the low budget and very effective given the subject matter.
The plot of Inside is based around a very specific type of crime that happens often. In fact, it is a crime on the rise in parts of the world, at the moment. It portrays this is in a brutally violent fashion. Nothing is off limits. Inside is absolutely not a movie for people who dislike violent horror. In fact, Inside is up there with the most violent horror I have ever watched. Nothing is sacred. We are presented with a heavily pregnant woman just days from being induced. I am sure you can imagine what might happen. I would say that pregnant people and couples should avoid this movie. It is that brutal in parts.
There are numerous characters that appear during La Femme’s time at the house. The different ways she finds to dispatch of her victims are inventive and horrific. New French Extremity movies act as explorations of ways to cause pain. Inside is a great example of this. That’s not to say that The Woman doesn’t experience violence herself.
Sarah is fighting for her life and will try whatever she can. She proves to be fairly capable and the result is both sides dishing out the hurt. One scene in particular features Sarah fighting back in a way that is both unique and very cleverly done. The injury detail is present throughout. Always gory and never anything other than extremely graphic. The movie ups the ante continuously until it’s shocking conclusion. As I said before, if you don’t like violent horror, don’t even bother.
Special effects are very important when it comes to a gory horror. If you are going to kill a whole bunch of people, it needs to look good. For the most part, Inside is fantastic. Some of the practical stuff is ultra believable. Wounds look very realistic and the FX team deserve a ton of praise. One character, in particular, suffers from burns to the face. These look absolutely incredible and suitably horrific. There are plenty of parts of the movie where you will want to turn away. This is down, in large part, to the fantastic job the special effects team did.
On the negative side, Sarah’s pregnancy bump looks ridiculous. She holds onto it all the time as if it is about to fall off. There are scenes that focus on it specifically and it just looks really bad. Still, it is put to good use in a couple of parts of the movie. There is some CG used to give us an “Inside” view of Sarah’s womb. This looks so shitty, as you might imagine for a low budget horror from 2007. I don’t think these scenes were needed at all. I don’t need to see the baby’s reaction to what is going on. It looks crap. Generally speaking, however, effects are really decent.
Béatrice Dalle’s performance as La Femme is absolutely fantastic. Fully committed to the role, she delivers a physical and intimidating performance. Anyone who knows anything about Dalle’s life knows she has been to some pretty dark places. Perhaps a woman who claimed that she ate part of a corpse’s ear while high on acid is perfect for a character like this? She is utterly convincing as the psychopathic lunatic desperate to cause harm. Scenes where she is kicking and elbowing the bathroom door in rage are noteworthy for their realism. She puts all of herself into the character and is instantly memorable.
Alysson Paradis, as Sarah, is perfectly fine. Once again, she puts on a committed performance and is very believable as a woman fighting for her life. Early parts of the film present Sarah as a bitter person. Angry at the world and what life has taken from her. She seemingly cares little about her unborn child and dislikes everyone around her. As the movie goes on, she develops a sense of fight and a will to live. Scenes where she is in pain are very convincing. She drags herself around in a manner that makes you believe she has been through the ringer. It’s well done but she still takes second place to Dalle’s La Femme. Side characters are fairly unremarkable due to their insignificance.
Inside is a movie that I have incredibly mixed feelings about. To give it a fair review. I feel as though I need to push aside some of my personal bugaboos. I understand that it is a good movie, I can recognise that. As far movies of this type go, it is better than a lot of them. It is, also, one of the better examples of the French New Wave of horror. The pacing is fantastic, there are brutal kills, tons of gore. The effects are excellent, the acting is spot on and the tension is present throughout. There is just a big part of me that can’t get past some of the plot holes. The characters in this movie are so stupid. They are some of the worst offenders when it comes to doing the wrong thing.
I get it, in a movie like this you need plenty of victims. The lack of creativity when it comes to setting up these scenes, however, is honestly disappointing. The characters line themselves up to be killed like tin ducks at a shooting range. You will find yourself yelling at the TV due to their ridiculous decisions. I am sure plenty of people don’t care about this at all. For me, however, it impacts my enjoyment. It is difficult to care about characters that are basically rapid marching to their deaths.
There isn’t a single kill in the movie that isn’t the result of a character doing something dumb. The events that set up the ending are pretty ridiculous, as well. One part, in particular, stands out for how little it makes sense. I am thinking it is done mainly to progress the story and because it is an interesting visual. It just seemed, to me at least, a bit out of place.
I think an argument could be made for the movie being potentially too graphic. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this because it is a horror movie, after all. We all know what we are here for. Some of the themes are very disturbing, however. Inside reminds me a lot of a few of the more brutal J-Horror movies. I would wager that Bustillo was at least a little influenced by Audition. The violence is heavily stylised and La Femme’s appearance is, like Asami, similarly bizarre and very deliberate.
It has to be said, however, this is a violent movie. I imagine it is sure to upset some people. It will definitely be too graphic for others. Themes of violence to a pregnant person are always going to be controversial. When it is this graphic, it would be irresponsible of me to not mention it. If you have a strong stomach, however, you should be fine. Just don’t whack it on while curled up on the sofa with your new partner.
Inside is an ultra violent French horror movie that is not for the weak of stomach. Coming as part of the New French Extremity genre of shock horror from the 2000s. Inside pulls absolutely no punches. Featuring a story of violence directed to a pregnant woman who has recently lost her husband. The themes present here are most definitely not for everyone.
Tons of gore and some literally disgusting moments may shock viewers. The tension maintains throughout and the claustrophobic house keeps the thrills coming. Side characters are a collection of the most stupid people ever. They will have you yelling at your screen as they line themselves up like clay pigeons. Still, fantastic performances and buckets of gore make this a must watch for fans of violent horror.