I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Inside

tn_insideHere’s another popular 2007 French horror movie. This one came out about a month before FRONTIER(S) did and like that one it has a pregnant protagonist and takes place during a time of rioting in the underprivileged Parisian suburbs. But it seems to be in the present and it’s much simpler, fewer characters and locations, and to me way more effective. “Fun” is probly not the right word for this one, but it comes close.

The movie opens with a (digital) baby in its mother’s womb… and what happens to it when the mother is in a car accident. In-utero whiplash. So, yeah, it’s pretty fucked up. But that’s how they do it in France.
Alysson Paradis (Johnny Depp’s sister-in-law, it turns out) plays Sarah, whose husband died in that crash. Now, 4 months later, she’s about ready to pop. Tomorrow, which is Christmas by the way, she’s either gonna go into labor or the doctor’s gonna induce it. Tonight she’s depressed and trying to be alone and forget about the holidays.

Then some lady (Beatrice Dalle) shows up at her door. And then in her house. Sarah doesn’t know who she is, but she knows things about Sarah, and eventually she finds a large pair of scissors, which she seems interested in using for things this tool was in my opinion not originally intended for.

mp_insideSo once the lady shows up it’s pretty much one long stand-off and scuffle. It gets more complicated as a few different people show up to check on Sarah. The editor at the newspaper where she works comes by, and mistakes this lady for Sarah’s mom. Sarah tries to keep people out of her life but they worry about her so they show up and make things worse. And it’s INSIDE because she’s holed up inside her house, inside the bathroom, with the baby inside her.

This is a really different type of horror villain. She gets your typical psychotic killer looks on her face every once in a while but most of the time her motives are unreadable. You can guess at why she’s doing this but you’re in the dark as long as Sarah is. Who the fuck is this crazy woman in her house? She came here with nefarious intent but she’s wearing a dress and heels. Ladylike, not seductive (though she looks kinda like a little bit older, gap-toothed Angelina Jolie). She’s determined like a Terminator but vulnerable like a human. She doesn’t say much, doesn’t do alot of evil laughing or verbal torment. She bleeds like a motherfucker, she screams in pain, even cries in emotional anguish, throws fits. She wears a wedding ring.

As a rule if a horror movie causes me to say “Oh no” out loud then it’s pretty brutal. When the gore happens it’s pretty fuckin intense because the characters seem real and the blood doesn’t look digital. And it just keeps getting worse. This Sarah might go through more of a physical and emotional wringer than any non-tortured protagonist in horror history. These characters receive injuries that cause you to wince in sympathy, but it’s emotionally unrelenting too because of the way people we believe she really cares about get pulled into this mess. And of course she looks extra vulnerable with that giant belly, and the stakes are so high with her not only protecting an unborn baby, but the legacy of her dead husband.

Since it’s Christmas Eve and she’s supposed to give birth tomorrow it’s natural to compare and contrast what’s going on with the Nativity story. Instead of a virgin pregnancy she just doesn’t have a husband, because he was killed in a car accident. She wasn’t going around to inns and finding no vacancy, actually she has a home but she pushes everybody away including her mother, because she’s depressed and wants to be alone. Instead of three wisemen bearing gifts there are three cops bearing arms, instead of following a star to the place they’re sent there to check on her. I guess the rioting suspect would be the little drummer boy. Instead of a drum solo his gift is a warning when he yells to Alice upstairs that the killer is still in the house.

There are only a couple parts that took me out of the movie a little, both involving one of the cops that tries to help the poor girl. I mean I’m sure police work is a little different in France but I have a hard time believing a cop would keep a young prisoner leashed to himself while investigating a way more serious crime – then give the kid a gun and encourage him to use it! It just seems like poor strategy on several different levels. Then there’s one scene that threatens to HIGH TENSION the whole movie when something happens that appears to be supernatural, but I decided it was just a weirdly-depicted regularnatural event and therefore doesn’t fuck up the landing.

I didn’t get to this one right away because I just kept hearing how brutal it was and assumed that was all there was to it. The cover for the American DVD is cheesy and just gives off a “stabbing a pregnant lady, isn’t that fucked up, dude?” type of attitude. So I gotta say I was truly impressed. This is a really good horror movie, not only better than I expected but easily one of the best of the 2000s.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 at 9:30 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

35 Responses to “Inside”

  1. Despite being released only heavily cut here in Germany, this movie was even banned a while ago!

    I also saw a while ago a trailer for an episode of GREY’S ANATOMY, where apparently one of the main characters was pregnant and was taken hostage in her house by a psychotic woman with scissors. Some TV producers are just shameless, when it comes to rip off european movies.

  2. I will admit to wathcing Grey’s Anatomy pretty regularly, and I can say that I do not remember that episode at all.

    There were more than a few TV movies in the late 80s and 90s that used the pregnant-woman-in-peril plot. I know I remember watching one with Kate Jackson where she did some pretty messed up things to rob a pregnant lady of her baby.

    And the movie Hush with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange is a fun, campy pregnant-lady-in-peril movie. Not gory, just ridiculous fun. I watch it whenever it’s on and I have the time. Paltrow’s character is a moron until the very end of the movie when motherhood suddenly smartens her up and makes her less annoying of a character.

  3. Maybe it was PRIVATE PRACTICE then? I got no idea, but it was definitely one of those shows that I don’t watch. (No offense.)

  4. Still no review of The Thing? You should see it before it leaves theatres, Vern.

  5. No offense taken. I look at those kinds of shows as fast food for the brain. You know it’s bad for you, but…

    I remember reading about Inside while I was eight months pregnant. Not a good time to think about the subject manner.

  6. oh my God, ANoniMouse is a woman? (unless of course this is a Junior type scenario here), I thought it was a total sausage fest on here, glad to hear there’s at least one female fan of Vern

    anyway this movie has been on my “to see” list since it came out on dvd

  7. nabroleon dynamite

    October 25th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Damn Vern!! I’m glad you liked the shit, but I was hoping you were gonna drop this review on Halloween and fuck ya boi’s head up!!

    I’ve heard rumblings of an American Remake. Anybody know about that?

  8. This is my favorite of La Neu Brutalité, which is a very important-sounding filmitational type movement that I just named right here. I think the moment this movie became something special was when the cute little pregnant lady gets her lip slashed open right at the beginning. It’s no cute little action hero cut over the right eyebrow, either. It looks painful and it really fucks up her face, and you have to look at her like that for the rest of the movie. It provides a constant reminder of what those scissors can do to tender flesh. A little thing like that lets you know the movie is not fucking around way better than an exploding head would.

  9. Mr. Majestyk, are you aware that some critics here or other have labeled the movement? Thought you were perhaps either satirizing the label specifically or just satirizing labelmaking in general.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_French_Extremity

  10. I also thought the movie had taken a crazy left turn and become a zombie film near the end. I’m glad it didn’t, but the fact that other people have had that same thought is more a testament to the “what the fuck will happen next?” vibe that INSIDE nails down early.

    Spoilerish thoughts:

    I’m also a sucker for any film where the apparent obvious meaning of the first shot turns out to be a bit of misdirection that actually explains the whole thing.

  11. The tagline on the poster should be “NOT FOR BABIES.”

  12. Last I checked, I was a woman. Otherwise I gave birth to two miracles of science. Or I’m a former governor of California.

  13. WOW. Will definitely check out this one now. Great review Vern, hope it’s as good as you say it is.

  14. So we aren’t discussing the ending? Okay then. I had a bit to say about it but don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone.

    I saw this one right after I saw MARTYRS and I thought both “What is in the water in France?” and “Can we get some over here please?” The film is great at dangling that possibility of escape just out of reach and then snatching it away. That’s what elevates this film above a simple gorefest. You are being put through the wringer as the main character is.

  15. It’s not the water in France that results in films like this, it’s the super fucked up, only anti-Muslim culture. France makes a lot of great art, but they also represent a lot of rather odious political movements. Course, I don’t have to live there, so I can just enjoy their kickass gorno.

  16. Great review, Vern! I’m glad you got to this one. I also love that you use HIGH TENSION as a verb to describe the perfect way to fuck up a great movie.

    SPOILERY COMMENTS TO FOLLOW

    I’m usually a bit disappointed when a really strong female character doesn’t make it out, but this movie did a great job of showing that by the end, both the protagonist and antagonist were so fucked up (physically and mentally), that there was no hope for either of them, and allowing the baby to live was the best we were going to get. Both characters had such a great balance of determination and vulnerability, it highlights why women main characters work so well in (good) horror movies.

  17. not to drag this off topic, but you have to love the irony of France being so anti-Muslim, I mean you’d think France would be a very liberal place, I mean they opposed the Iraq war after all, but evidently that’s just a stereotype

    it reminds me of that documentary about the photographer Spencer Tunick, who photographs people in the nude in public places, almost everyone he asks in America was willing to do it, but when he went to Paris almost no one was and it was one of the few places where he got in trouble with the police

  18. I think that France fills the same space for certain sects of Liberals that Japan does for certain sects of nerds. It is this far away ‘other’ place where one can imagine things make more sense. A lot of it is based upon unintentional xenophobia and the need for an idealized bucolic past.

    People love to talk about, ‘The good old days.” But were there any good old days?

    The bucolic America of the 1950s was viciously racist and sexist.

    The bucolic America of the 1960s was on the brink of REAL class warfare.

    The bucolic America of the 1970s was embroiled with Vietnam and the beginnings of the heroin trade, as well as a horrific economy and *shudders* disco.

    The bucolic America of the 1980s had AIDS, massive unemployment, cocaine, the beginnings of Crack and some of the highest levels of crime ever in America.

    The bucolic America of the 1990s was…do we idealize the 90s yet?

    You see what I’m saying? If we look at things today, sure they suck. But would I have been better off in the 1970s? 1960s? I donno. A lot of things are better today, a lot of things are worse. Since France is totally detached from my solid knowledge of the present, I can project whatever I want onto it and idealize it. It’s the cultural equivalent of a Madonna Whore complex.

  19. “do we idealize the 90s yet?”

    I do lol, at least the second half

    and you’re right about Japan, the irony there is that the general public actually hates nerds, unlike America where being a nerd is pretty much officially cool, in Japan it’s not

  20. So very pleased that you finally got around to viewing this Vern, and not surprised that you really dug it.

    Speaking of Beatrice Dalle, have you seen “Trouble Every Day”? Kinda slow go

  21. Whoops, stupid fat fingers and posting from an I-phone don’t mix.
    Anyway, Beatrice Dalle, the hotter and just generally qwierder Mercedes McCambridge, was the star of what is arguably the first film in the new French horror wave of the 2000’s, “Trouble Every Day”. Kinda slow and ponderous, but there’s a scene at about the hour mark that has haunted me ever since I first saw it. Bloody, disgusting, and as a plus it comes with a sound design so creepy that shutting your eyes from the horror on display does you no favors.

    I like that you called it fun. Certainly not upon first viewing, but repeat viewings up the fun ante something fierce. It reminded me of Raimi circa Evil Dead/Evil Dead II.

    About to check out “The Silent House”, a horror flick that’s supposedly on long 78minute uninterrupted shot. Looking forward to it.

  22. I like to think that casting Beatrice Dalle in INSIDE was a deliberate contribution to the larger recent trend in film to depict the souring of France, politically speaking. Not that Dalle was exactly France’s Sweetheart, but the shift from quirky, lovable lunatic in BETTY BLUE to the outright monster she plays in this film is quite pointed.

    Also, you know I love you, Tawdry, but I’m not going to tolerate any bashing of “I Feel Love” or “Love to Love You Baby.” Beyonce wishes she was half as awesome as those songs.

  23. This sounds pretty okay! I’m not sure if I convince the wife to do a double feature of this and Irreversible or Martyrs or something for Halloween, but she’s a Francophile so I might try.

    I never understood the hate for High Tension. The twist wasn’t great but it didn’t ruin what came before. It swung for the fences with an interesting idea that ended up falling flat but I still remember that movie fondly.

    Tawdry, it’s hard to be a leftist and look fondly back at any point in history. I guess I do when I look back at the 1890s through 1910s or so since it seemed like there was a real chance for something great to happen in America. Or at least there are some pretty heroic martyrs to look back to during that period.

  24. Man, only in a Vern review will I come away from it both wanting to see a movie AND get to read such awesome lines as “Instead of three wisemen bearing gifts there are three cops bearing arms”.

  25. Casey: You are certainly correct about America in the 1890s through 1910s producing some impressive heroes and martyrs. There could be some amazing films made about them, but they’d probably just fuck them up. For example, I’m equally looking forward to and terribly worried about NO GOD NO MASTER. Originally, it sounded like the main character would become sympathetic to anarchist ideals, but now IMDB’s plot summary of it refers to “an anarchist plot to destroy democracy”, an oxymoron that demonstrates little knowledge of anarchism. I’m still hoping the movie has its shit together.

    For now, I guess we will have to settle for movies like THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY and MATEWAN. Speaking of John Sayles (and the 1900s), has anyone seen AMIGO?

  26. I hunted down a dvd of Inside about a year ago after reading many positive reviews and have not regretted it. Extremely effective and very brutal little movie. Not sure if I would watch it again anytime soon as my wife is now pregnant and it might be a little too much for me now.

    Not sure if you reviewed this Vern, but I just saw the Spanish thriller Kidnapped (original title Secuestrados) and although it was a by the book home invasion thing for the most part, those final 20 minutes really packed a punch. That ending… Jesus. They really went for the jugular. Also, how the hell did they manage that 7 minute long splitscreen shot, that was damn impressive the way that came together.

  27. New trailer for Livid from the makers of Inside!

    http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=21658

    Been waiting on this. Awesome review too btw! Been waiting on that one as well.

  28. Nabroleon Dynamite

    October 29th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    THANKS REWRITE!! THAT LOOKS AWESOME!!

  29. nabroleon dynamite

    October 30th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I just read 4 reviews from respectable sites that uniformly state that “Livid” is a extremely disappointing sophomore slump!! A boring art-house dud!!

    That hurts my heart man, but I’ll probably check for the dvd when it drops!!

    Has Vern reviewed “The Last Circus”? That movie is the best thing I’ve seen this year!! Dope Shit!!

  30. very intense movie. but well shot, well acted, well written. when the woman is stalking prego initially, I got a real Michael Myers vibe from her. it’s even shot similar to the original Halloween in parts. I should watch this again, but I’m not always in the mood for this level of brutality.

    the next logical step for Vern is Martyrs. start squirming.

  31. Just checked this out based on your review Vern, and I gotta admit I kind of enjoyed it. Not sure what that says about me as a person but there it is. It didn’t really scare me as much as some slasher films tend to do just because the violence was so frequent and constantly one-upping what had come before it I was quickly desensitized by the whole affair. That’s not to say that by the time the zombie cop/charred face fight began I wasn’t 100% into it. At that point I was just curious to see just how far they could take it, and of course I got my answer a few minutes later in what will hopefully be the only C-section scene I will ever see.

    For fucks sake why did she leave the gun the cops gave her on the bed? Did the film makers just forget that they had given that to her? She hadn’t given up on getting out alive because she goes downstairs and gets the sewing needle thing out of the cops face. So she’s determined to make it out at that point but just forgets she has a perfectly fine gun right beside her?

    Anyway, good recommendation sir. Not sure if I’ve ever seen a bloodier film than this. And I’ve seen a fuck ton of horror films in my days.

  32. What dieselboy said, except I avoided reading the content of the review until after watching this thing.

    That spoilerspoilerspoiler issue with the gun didn’t have to be so poorly handled. I mean, she bit the woman’s lip pretty good, so she obviously had a plan and had her wits about her to react like she did, so why leave the gun on the mattress?

    I recall reading something Mr. Majestyk wrote about “typical horror movie bullshit” in the MARTYRS comments (and I felt the exact same way about that thing that happened in MARTYRS which you should stop reading about and go see with tabula rasa right now if you haven’t already), but there was an even more annoying thing, a uniquely stupid thing (not typical horror bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless), which is that the protagonist falls asleep, which also seems to happen in INSIDE.

    For some reason, MARTYRS girl falls asleep, wasting time and prolonging the danger she’s in. And when I saw that happen in INSIDE (during the debacle of the incompetent cop with a tethered perp & no comms), I thought at least there was an excuse for it — after all the physical trauma and due to being pregnant, it makes sense she’d pass out. But if she was aware enough to chew some human gum, she shoulda used the gun.

    Anyway, bad movie poster, great recommendations, good movie. I won’t be watching it again. Ever.

  33. Just read this after reading the LIVID review. Kinda weird to find out that France was considered so anti-Muslim back in 2011. I mean, not that we don’t have plenty of anti-Muslim and/or racist people here, and sadly all political parties are more or less trying to appeal to those assholes one way or another, and it’s actually way worse now after the terrorist attacks of last January and November. But still, a “super fucked up, only anti-Muslim culture”? It’s just a minority of very vocal dickheads.

  34. I’m kind of anti-Muslim in the fact that it seems to have taken the mantle away from Christianity on having the most fanatics taking things to the most extreme. It is getting really annoying. This is probably why I will never be a part of organized religion ever again. It ruins it for everybody.

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