Usually when writing about any film that we cover here on Hatched, one of us will actually take the time to sit down with a little notebook or a laptop and re-watch the film in question. We do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s because we’re goddamn professionals and we like to give at least the illusion that we know what we’re talking about — we feel like we owe you that at least. Secondly — and most of all, really — it’s just so we don’t say anything too stupid.
I’m not going to do that for Inside. Though Inside is a wonderful, almost revolutionarily good horror film, in no way whatsoever do we want to watch it again. And it’s not because it’s too gross or that its in questionable taste (though, it is both of those things), it’s that it’s fucking scary. Inside is a scary movie, maybe one of the scariest I’ve ever seen, and I really just don’t want to put myself through that again.
Still, there’s a job to be done, so I’m just going to wing it from memory.
For the uninitiated, Inside is a 2007 French horror film that was part of a particularly violent and brutal string of movies that came out of France around the middle portion of the last decade. Rotten mash-ups of extreme violence and psychological boogiemen, movies like Inside, High Tension, Irreversible and a slew of others made up what became known as “New French Extremity,” a phrase I don’t use too often because it is clunky as shit.
The film takes place over a particularly turbulent night in Paris (at least, I think it’s Paris. Are there other cities in France?) where a pregnant woman, Sarah, spends the evening alone as she recovers from a violent car accident that left her widowed. As Sarah prepares for the scheduled birth of her baby the next day, a shadow of a woman appears at Sarah’s door, desperately trying to get in. When the intruder eventually claws her way into the house, Sarah finds temporary refuge locked in her windowless bathroom. Hellbent on carving the baby right from Sarah’s abdomen, the intruder prowls around the house, dispatching well wishers and scratching at the bathroom door with, just, the biggest pair of scissors.
While the body horror and torture in Inside can be hard to stomach, even for someone pretty well seasoned in movie violence, it’s Sarah’s isolation and the way in which her intruder constantly smudges out any hope for rescue or escape that makes Inside such a suffocating ride. Locked in that bathroom, Sarah has not only isolated herself from any means of communication, she’s also spent the time since her husband’s death isolating herself from friends and family, and her only saviors, the police escorts assigned to check in on her, have their hands full with a riot raging across town.
The violence in Inside alone should be enough to turn off anyone outside its niche market, and while it definitely wades deep into exploitation film territory, the bloodshed never feels cheap. Sarah’s hellish evening goes from horrible on a visceral level, to horrible on a personal level. This film punishes its characters, wringing out every ounce of light or hope until allowing the slightest glimmer through a morbid twist of fate just as the film ends.
Inside is an amazing, successful piece of horror — a landmark for the entire genre, really — whose violence is punishing and indigestible, but serves to force its characters to grow in the most harrowing ways. It should be seen by everyone with an interest in horror and the stomach for the material.
I just really, really don’t want to watch it again.