À l'intérieur, Inside (2007)
Directed by: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Written by: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Starring: Alysson Paradis, Aymen Saïdi, Beatrice Dalle, Emmanuel Lanzi, François-Régis Marchasson, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, Ludovic Berthillot, Nathalie Roussel, Nicolas Duvauchelle
After suffering an horrific car crash alongside her husband, who tragically succumbed to his injuries, Sarah is facing the prospect of giving birth without her love and the father of her unborn child by her side. Four months after the accident, Sarah is struggling to come to terms with what life has thrown at her, and, clearly still grieving for what she’s lost, she’s not exactly jumping for joy over her imminent birth. After being checked up at the hospital, she makes arrangements for her boss and friend Jean-Pierre to pick her up the next day to take her to hospital to be induced. Whilst settling in for a quiet evening, contemplating what she had and facing a future without the family unit she’d expected, there’s a knock at the door. A woman, claiming to have broken down, asks to use her phone but, unwilling to let the stranger in, Sarah makes up an excuse to get rid of her. Only when the woman at the door persists and calls her by name and exposes her excuse as a lie, does Sarah begin to fear for her life and that of her unborn child. Itching to get in, the woman hounds Sarah by prowling around the outside of the house, but that is nothing compared to what she has in store for Sarah once she’s inside…
Part home invasion thriller and part slasher movie, INSIDE is a breed apart from any other horror film I’ve seen. As part of the French Extremity movement, perhaps coming in at the latter end of the era, INSIDE is a fight for survival of when one is at their most vulnerable – whilst carrying an unborn child. This isn’t merely a film about fighting for your own life but fighting for two and one of them is wholly dependent on the other, except this movie has a twist on the old slasher genre. The villain doesn’t want to harm the child… she wants the child. Sarah’s got a long night ahead of her!
When we first meet Sarah at the hospital, she comes across as being a moody individual and not very likeable. Her interaction with her mother and her general demeanour is that of someone who’s grumpy and mad at life, but can you blame her? This life she envisioned with her husband, raising their baby together, has been shattered. The joy she should feel about being a mum is overshadowed by the grief. Perhaps once the baby is born, she’ll finally be able to heal these wounds. Unfortunately for Sarah, fate has other plans for her in the form of a gothic-looking figure rat-a-tat-tatting on her door.
Watching it for the first time, you cannot predict the level of violence that lies ahead which actress Beatrice Dalle fully commits to in her role as the deadly and dangerously unhinged, La Femme. After first making her presence known, she stalks her prey before it becomes an upfront battle between these two women. Alysson Paradis is a powerhouse as Sarah as she tries to keep herself and her baby safe from the clutches of this mad woman, coming face to face with La Femme wielding more than her fair share of weapons. La Femme is incredibly sneaky too which leads to some very cunning scenes throughout the movie, many of which lead to further bloodshed.
What’s interesting about this film is that it also incorporates a third character into the dynamic between the hunter (La Femme) and the hunted (Sarah) – that of Sarah’s unborn baby. Right from the start of the film, we see CGI shots of a baby in the womb and the impact of what’s going on around it and how this affects the baby inside. From the car crash at the beginning of the film to the abuse unleashed by Dalle’s La Femme, not only do we see the harm it does to Sarah on the outside but also on the inside, to the life lying within, adding that extra dimension that we’re not usually privy to. When we see Sarah grimace from an impact to the stomach, we also see how that affects the human life inside of her who is feeling the consequences of the trauma too.
Having not seen the film since its release over 15 years ago, I’d forgotten how incredibly brutal the film can be. It’s savage and certainly doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the violence, causing me to utter”Jesus Christ!” more than once. Seeing the pointed end of the scissors pressing into the flesh is definitely a moment I had to look away from the screen, albeit briefly. I think my tastes in horror have definitely mellowed over the years – no longer do I enjoy (for want of a better word) watching the gory torture-porn horror films of old. Or perhaps INSIDE was always that shocking but films in more recent years have shied away from such on-screen savagery? Either way, this certainly isn’t a film you watch for a good time. It’s completely horrifying, but within it are some cracking performances from the leads Dalle and Paradis. It’s a terrifying thriller executed in a gripping fashion that has to be applauded. Putting the bloodshed to one side, INSIDE is a marvellous piece of storytelling, particular how it also deals with the supporting players too who enter the story at different stages of the film.
Certain horror movies make an everlasting impression, seared into your memory, and INSIDE is one of them. You’ll not forget this film in a hurry, and whilst subsequent viewings can never be seen in quite the same light as that initial watch, it retains the captivating terror and shock value that made you sit up in attention in the first place.
Continuing their support for French Extremity titles following the release of High Tension, Second Sight Films bring us INSIDE on limited edition Blu-Ray which comes with a rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by James Neal, a 70-page book with new essays by Chad Collins, Kat Ellinger, Annie Rose Malamet, and Hannah Strong, and six collectors’ art cards, not to mention a host of new special features on the disc itself. Second Sight have also released a standard edition Blu-Ray which includes the new special features on the disc as detailed below.
Audio Commentary by Anna Bogutskaya
Frequent contributor to Second Sight Films releases, writer and host of The Final Girls podcast, Anna Bogutskaya offers an insightful and engaging look at Inside in this brand new commentary for the movie. Not only does she analyse the film, but she gives terrific background and history on the French Extremity movement, highlighting other films, critics and books on the subject for those who want to delve further. When it comes to the film itself, she delves into the heart of the story, exploring the characters and the setting of the suburban house where the terror is about to unfold.
Audio Commentary by Elena Lazic
French freelance film writer, and founder and editor of online film magazine, Animus, Elena Lazic gives her thoughts and analysis on Inside in this new commentary. Lazic breaks down the scenes throughout the movie, particularly from a visual and filmmaking perspective, and also talks about New French Extremism cinema.
First Born – An Interview with co-writers/directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
In this interview with the duo behind Inside, we learn how Alexandre Bustillo was a journalist for Mad Movies and wrote screenplays on the side but wanted to get into directing movies. He partnered up with Julien Maury in 2005 who had the technical experience that could turn his script into a film. They talk about how the first idea for Inside was going to be very different, a more generic slasher featuring a male killer who preyed on pregnant women but obviously this evolved into what is an infinitely better story. They discuss the casting process for the film, such as how their first choice for La Femme turned them down, before then approaching Beatrice Dalle who they thought would be well out of their league being such a famed arthouse performer, but were pleasantly surprised when she agreed. They talk about how much she brought to that character and made it her own, changing a lot of how the character was written in the script yet still took on board the direction of the directing duo. Bustillo and Maury also talk about how the crew they had hired had previously worked on Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) and so were familiar with each other and their experience in the filmmaking process helped enormously with Inside being the directors’ first film.
Labour Pains – An Interview with Alysson Paradis (14 mins 50 secs)
Actress Alysson Paradis joyfully reflects on her time working on Inside as co-lead, Sarah. She talks about how she got involved with Inside and how she was enthusiastic to play such a strong, female character. She gives great detail about working with Beatrice Dalle, who she got on with so well, and their stuntwork choreography for the fight scenes between them both. She also talks about the reception the film got at the film festivals, in particular Cannes which had a somewhat negative reaction to the movie which she found upsetting at the time, before it went on to receive great feedback from film festivals that appreciated genre cinema.
A New Extreme – An Interview with Producer Franck Ribière (22 mins 1 sec)
Franck Ribière, who frequently partnered with Vérane Frédiani, talks about how he likes to produce genre film. Although he’d been sent many scripts, it was Inside that really piqued his interest. Ribière discusses how the film got turned down many times by other distributors before Canal+ took it on and talks about selling the movie based on a 40 second trailer in Berlin. In this interview, Ribière is very honest about the filmmakers, who were very new to filmmaking scene, but also details how he learned a lot about genre cinema from their passion for it.
Womb Raider – An Interview with Cinematographer Laurent Barés (19 mins 16 secs)
Laurent Barés shares his experience working on Inside after working on Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) and how the timing and framing of the movie intrigued him. He loved the story of this lost, soon-to-be mother alone in a house. He talks about how the shoot was much simpler than Frontier(s) with it being filmed in one spot; a location outside of Paris that they could recreate somewhat. Barés talks about giving support to the inexperienced directors to help realise their vision for the movie and how he approached certain filmmaking aspects, such as the lighting and use of camera.
Reel Action – An Interview with Stunt Coordinator Emmanuel Lanzi (14 mins 33 secs)
Inside’s stunt coordinator Emmanuel Lanzi talks about his beginnings in the industry with colleague Olivier, who he initially started training with after discovering their joint love of action cinema. After being recruited by Nicky Naude, he landed his first job on Jean-François Richet’s gang warfare flick, Ma 6t Va Crack-er, and then went on to do bigger and better things as his career progressed. Lanzi discusses working on Inside with Beatrice Dalle and Alysson Paradis and what they brought to the movie. He also mentions his own role in the film as one of the police men. You can see Lanzi’s passion for his craft as he talks about the learning curve of becoming a stunt coordinator from being a stuntman and how his career continues to grow, like that of Alex and Julien, and touches upon his own future aspirations within action cinema.
The Birth of a Mother – Jenn Adams on Inside (14 mins 56 secs)
A video essay and analysis by Jenn Adams, viewed from the eyes of a mother.