Today I watched Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s Inside (2007)
New French Extremity is the term used for a broad group of films from the early 21st century that all display a uniquely modern fascination with the extreme and the social commentary that can be found there, and are French obviously. While not entirely a spinoff of horror at large, there is a strong connection, and a horror film Inside certainly is. It’s a fairly simple story of a pregnant woman whose husband died in a car crash and is now about to give birth while still deep in grief. But the night before she is to go into the hospital, her home is invaded by another woman who wants to steal her baby for mysterious reasons, cue gore.
But this is a New French Extremity film and I just said they were defined in part by social commentary, so what is this film really about? Well, there is some stuff in there about re-birth I guess, fairly obvious considering the subject matter, but what’s with the interspersed news segments about racial violence? More importantly what does the implied racial violence have to do with the home invasion plot on a thematic level or vice versa? I hesitate to say that they are completely separate from one another, but on that thematic level I just don’t see a connective tissue.
So without any real issue to drive it, the film becomes mostly a parade of gore effects and human misery. In that sense it is a pretty alright movie, well shot and particularly well acted by the two principle actresses, Alysson Paradis as the victim and Beatrice Dalle as the invader. The two of them deliver some really incredible performances that give the movie an emotional depth that it’s attempts at theme fail at. The creativity of the effects and how the film is shot also deserves some commendation as well, but for me my mind always comes back to that thematic shortfall.
The film presents itself as having something important to say but it gets jumbled in the execution and what we have left is more or less just another gore film. In some senses it leans pretty heavily into the whole torture porn idea of fetishized violence, but in other works of New French Extremity that meant something. Here that shocking material only seems to aim to get a rise out of the audience, despite almost finding a thought provoking theory numerous times. So this is a film I recommend only to people who enjoy that sort of reveling in human misery, as it does manage to deliver that with a hearty helping of good style. 3/5