Somebody wants to claim a pregnant woman’s baby for her own. To make matters worse, the baby is still in his mother’s womb.
We’ve all heard shocking news reports (and a few urban legends) about childless women attempting to steal other women’s unborn babies using car keys and other unimaginable surgical instruments. Apparently so have French filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Muary who’ve used this Grand Guignol concept as the basis for their amazing 2007 flick Inside (a.k.a. À l’intérieur). The filmmakers build on this twisted premise to deliver one of the most bloody, over-the-top slasher flicks I’ve ever seen. And that’s a good thing.
Alysson Paradis is Sarah, the expectant mother left all alone on the night when “The Woman” comes calling. Played by the great Beatrice Dalle (Trouble Every Day, Betty Blue), “The Woman” is a slicing, dicing force to be reckoned with. After all, Inside is a slasher film of the first order – The filmmakers have even added a knowing tribute to John Carpenter’s Halloween – and it’s amazing to see how many ways Bustillo, who also wrote the screenplay, and Muary have concocted to lure fresh victims to Paradis’ home. The two actresses, however, are the heart of the film, and both are outstanding in their opposing roles, giving a life to each character beyond their time onscreen, fueled by an intense pain that is emotional and very definitely physical at times. In fact, both were awarded for their performances here at the genre film festival at Sitges.
Another key to the film’s success is the underlying emphasis on suspense despite all the red stuff on display. It’s easy to empathize with Paradis as she fights for the life of not just herself, but her baby as well. That poor kid. Not only does Dalle want to tear him from Paradis’ stomach, but he’s also a unconvincingly rendered CGI creation for most of the film. Several times the filmmakers cut to some iffy CGI of Paradis’ in utero baby which can be distracting. It’s no worse than what we’ve sat through in I Am Legend, and it’s miles ahead of the CGI in Renny Harlin’s Exorcist: The Beginning (remember those jackals? P.U.), but still, obvious CGI is one of major filmmaking flaws movie goers are forced to sit through these days. I mean, if I want to see a cartoon, I’ll throw Looney Tunes into the DVD player.
Aside from the occasional CGI shot, Inside requires that viewers suspend their disbelief and accept action that is obviously not 100% realistic. Characters spring up “from the dead” and function with massive head wounds, but we’ve been letting movie characters get away with that for years. If you can put that “No way!” response to sleep for the duration of the movie, you’ll be rewarded with the wettest flick this side of Dead-Alive.
And if you’re one of those people who gets turned off at the very mention of a film in a foreign language, take a chance here. Inside is action-driven rather than dialogue heavy, and the Dimension Extreme DVD comes with the option of watching a dubbed version. Sadly, the DVD also comes with Dimension Extreme’s typical unfortunate cover art that makes the film look like a direct-to-DVD rip-off of Touristas. Their tacky artwork that panders to what they assume the Saw audience will respond to does a disservice to the film.
Inside is a flick that deserves a lot more attention. Maybe that will come with the rumored and unnecessary US remake directed by REC’s Jaume Balagueró. And keep your eyes open for whatever Bustillo and Muary have coming next. Though they were at one time attached to the Hellraiser remake, they are no longer involved with the project. In the meantime, check out Inside, and prepare to say “Ouch!” A lot.