Monday, April 21, 2008

Inside (2007)

I suppose I'm at the point in my life where it takes a lot to shock or disturb me. I Spit On Your Grave did a fairly decent job of it. The french film, Irreversible, is one such film that if I never see it again, it will be too soon. I recently watched a picture called Closure starring Gillian Anderson. In it, she's brutaly raped. In vengeance, she sodomizes her rapist with a rifle. The film is not listed in Anderson's imdb filmography, so I've even started to question whether or not I actually watched it. We even see her glorious breasts in that one (not in the rape scene, so it's ok), so perhaps I dreamt it. In which case, my subconsciousness is pretty fucked up. Basically, the one thing all of these films have in common is that the violence is done against women. Of course, that's all too common in horror pictures. What these pictures also have in common is that none of these women are pregnant. Certainly, none of them are due to give birth anytime soon, and especially not the next day.

Pregnant women are surely sacred, right? How often do you see a movie where one is beat up, killed, etc? Not too often. Inside is a film that uses this as a plot device and then doesn't hold back. At all. I haven't seen this much harm done to a woman and her unborn child since I saw that third trimester bitch smoking a cigarette in Central Square the other day. There have been stories in the news over the last couple years about women stalking pregnant women and, in one case, even cutting out a baby in some insanely mis-guided attempt to raise it as their own. It's beyond fucked up and I'm not sure I needed to see a movie about it. Fucking french. They've raised the bar in horror with this one. This picture is disturbing, scary, atmospheric, well acted (for the most part), and gory as all hell. I didn't enjoy watching it, but I'm glad I did (likely, I never will again).

The story centers around Sarah (Alysson Paradis) on the eve of her planned labor inducement. A month or so earlier, she lost her husband in a horrific car crash (in which, she was the driver). She and the baby survived. There was another car involved, but the fate of the occupants is not really revealed. Understandably, Sarah has become very morose and has lost any excitement she once had for the impending birth. She walks around in a catatonic state snapping photos of happier couples and their children. All the while, her little french community has been wracked by violence. Her mother is worried for her, as is her editor (she is employed as a photojournalist). Sarah plans on spending the night alone in her house. Her editor will swing by to pick her up early the next morning and bring her to the hospital. It's going to be a long night.

Late that night, her doorbell rings. Sarah looks out the peephole and sees the silhouette of a woman. At first, the woman, simply billed as La Femme, asks to use the phone since her car has broken down. After refusing to let her in, the woman creepily reveals things that she shouldn't know. Sarah tells her to go away. Finally, she leaves until, later, we see her in the backyard smoking a cigarette and staring at Sarah through the sliding glass doors. Who is she? What does she want? If you've been reading the above, I'm sure you can figure it out.

This movie left me feeling drained. It will probably do for getting pregnant what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean (who am I kidding? After seeing Jaws for the first time I was terrified of swimming in my pool). If I ever meet someone and we decide to have a baby (hear that girls, I'm single! It's no wonder, considering the amount of time I spend watching things like this) I'm never allowing her out of my sight. I spent the entire run-time (a seemingly never ending 80 minutes) on the edge of my seat. There are scenes early on, after the police have searched her property, that are as frightening as anything released over the past few years. Several times, we see La Femme (in the house!) and Sarah doesn't. We never see her too clearly, usually in shadow. I'm pretty sure if I were to go back and watch the early scenes again, we might see her in the hospital, at the park, etc. I'll just assume it. As Sarah lies asleep in bed, La Femme is standing over her. She leaves the bedroom for the kitchen, where she begins sterilizing a pair of large scissors. Jesus fucking christ. Really?

La Femme was played by Beatrice Dalle who is probably the scariest woman to grace the face of this earth with her demonic presence. She looks like a waifish Angelina Jolie with a large gap between her two front teeth. She's dressed in a futuristic looking black gown and does a lot of screaming. Basically, she's got two moods. Calm and matter of fact-like or fucking loopy. It's a brave performance on her part considering that I can't imagine a guy ever wanting to be with her after seeing this. Again, who the fuck am I kidding? I would. Beggers can't be choosers, after all.

I spent the entire movie rooting for Sarah. Alysson Paradis is simply astounding in the role. She's one tough, exceedingly cute pregnant chick. I fell in love with her, which only makes what she goes through all the more painful. There are several instances where we are shown the baby within her womb (though the use of some pretty decent cgi) and the abuse that he's undergoing throughout this night as well, as he bangs against the walls of her uterus. I guess the Dawn of the Dead remake abused an unborn fetus as well, but it was done in a completely different tone. If this baby had been born a zombie my reaction would have been a big "fuck you" to the filmmakers.

I'm really trying to not give away too much. There's a minor twist when we learn the identity of La Femme, but it's not really a surprise. If you didn't figure it out immediately, I sorta feel sorry for you. I dug the sparse score by Francois Eudes who was also behind the terrific score for High Tension. The makeup and effects guys worked overtime on this picture. Her house becomes blood and viscera soaked, in the bloodiest home massacre since Lionel lawn-mowered a ridiculous amount of zombies in his mum's house, as character after character stops in to check on Sarah. This movie contains one of the worst gun shots to the face I've ever seen. One guy gets scissored to both knees and then repeatedly to the balls. Most of the kills in this thing were balls to the wall brutal and, even worse, realistic. As friends, cops, etc are slaughtered Sarah fights with all that she has to keep her and her baby alive. A minor quibble: Why are the cops in this portrayed as morons? French horror has certainly upped the ante over the last few years. Of course, this picture would never be made in America. Alexandre Bustillo (who co-directed with Julien Maury) joins Alexandre Aja as one to watch in the near future. One rumor has him tackling the remake of Clive Barker's Hellraiser. I wasn't excited about that before seeing this, but I am now. The end of Inside left me feeling a combination of morose, ill, on edge, borderline cardiac arrested, etc, etc. I may never watch this one again, but that's simply because there's no need to. I'll never forget it.


Anonymous said...

Closure IS listed on Gillian Anderson IMdB sit. It's called Straightheads. Sony picture changed the title for the US release; the original title was Straightheads which is aword used for people untoched by crime and violence.

Anonymous said...

Great review, Brian. The imagery of this movie still haunts me. I will never look at a pair of scissors the same way again.


brian said...

Thanks for the info anon. Good to know.

Beepy said...

We'll have to talk about this one, Brian. Start feeling sorry for me now because I can't guess who she is.

brian said...

Sorry Beepy, if you SEE the movie you can figure it out. Not from the review.

steve said...

so what you're saying is, pregnancy is gross.

Thanks for the newsflash! Hope I'M never pregnant!

Beepy said...

Yeah, so do we. We have, after all, seen the way you carry on with a headcold.

steve said...

that's because my headcolds are WORSE than anybody else's!