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Dimension Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/15/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/2/2008
My wife is my movie-watching partner and nearly every DVD that I've reviewed is a movie which we've watched together. She may not always finish the movies, but she's a good sport and will give most everything a few minutes. However, when Inside arrived, I immediately put the DVD to the side and never asked her to join me in watching it. Just one glance at the cover told me that it was not a movie for her. Actually, I'm not exactly sure who this movie is for, which is going to make it difficult to review, because it's one of the best made horror films which I've seen in some time.
Alysson Paradis stars in Inside as Sarah. As the film opens, Sarah is involved in an automobile accident which kills her husband Matthieu (Jean-Baptiste Tabourin). The story then jumps ahead four months. Sarah is 9-months pregnant and her baby is due at any time. She visits her doctor, who tells her to come to the hospital the next day, which will be Christmas Day, as she will be ready to deliver. She's driven home by her boss, Jean-Pierre (Francois-Regis Marchasson), who agrees to drive her to the hospital the next day. Alone, Sarah settles in for the night.
She is surprised by a knock at the door. It's a woman, asking to use Sarah's phone. When Sarah refuses to open the door, the woman begins to relate personal information about Sarah, but will not say who she is. The woman then appears at Sarah's patio door, makes some threats, and leaves. The police arrive, search the property, but find no sign of the woman. Sarah then goes to bed, completely unaware that the woman has managed to get into the house. Thus begins a deadly game where Sarah must go to great lengths to protect herself and her baby.
Americans often accuse foreign films of being overly-complicated, but Inside is about as minimalist as you can get. This French film simply focuses on a woman being attacked in her home by a stranger. But, don't assume that Inside has nothing to offer, as this is one of the most brutally violent films that I've seen in years.
Inside is one of those films which works like a "shock machine". It starts off very modestly and slowly. While we see the aftermath of the car wreck, and it is bloody, this has more of an emotional, rather than a visceral, impact. From there, we meet Sarah and then see her at home. But, once the woman is inside Sarah's house, the film's tone changes very, very quickly. A scene which is already tense suddenly becomes very violent and bloody and the film doesn't let up from there. As the woman attacks Sarah, and anyone else who enters the house, we are treated to stabbings, shootings, burnings, and eye-gougings. By the finale, everyone and everything in the house is covered in blood.
It doesn't take much talent to show violence for violence's sake, but directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury have moved beyond that. Yes, this is a bloody and violent movie, but it also offers an amount of tension and suspense which is rarely seen in gore films today. There is a great shot where the woman appears from the darkness, which is very reminiscent of something from John Carpenter's Halloween -- this is a great "Look behind you!" moment. Some of the attacks are swift and shocking, while others are drawn out and we find ourselves yelling at the screen, "She's coming upstairs! Run!" These scenes bring the term "edge of your seat" to mind, and it was quite refreshing to see a movie which actually created a response in the viewer.
There are some problems with Inside. First, Sarah isn't presented as a very positive character, and thus it's difficult to like her. Granted, she has every right to be depressed as she's about to have a baby and her late husband isn't there to see it/help her, but the way in which she dismisses everyone makes it hard to care when she is first attacked. The twist ending is both a bit far-fetched and for some reason, easy to predict. Then we have the overall tone of the film. This movie is so violent and bleak, that it's truly difficult to recommend. And the ending goes far beyond "down". This movie is soul-crushing at best. But, it's also very well-made and any movie that can have that kind of effect on the audience must be doing something right.
Like a lot of horror fans, I went through my "EuroHorror" phase, but I never saw that many French horror films. Those which I did see -- Baby Blood, Haute Tension, and anything by Jean Rollin -- did nothing for me. Inside is different. It contains all of the gore and nihilism which one would expect from French horror, but it's also creepy and suspenseful. I just can't recommend it to women or anyone who is the least bit squeamish.
Inside stalks the unborn on DVD courtesy of Dimension Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks fine, as the image is sharp and clear. The picture shows only trace amounts of grain in some shots and no defects from the source material. The colors look fine, especially all of that red blood. The only issue that I had with the video here was that some shots were a little too dark, making the action a bit hard to see. The DVD carries a French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. (There's also an English 5.1 track, but we don't like dubbing, right?) This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Inside is a film where things get very loud very quickly and those sounds come through fine here. There are some nice stereo effects, as well as surround effects, which allow us to know when things are happening in different parts of the house. Gunshots and brutal hits provide some subwoofer effects.
The Inside DVD contains only two extra features, although one is quite long. "The Making of Inside" (52 minutes) is presented in French with English subtitles. As one would imagine from the running time, this is a highly-detailed featurette. In a nice change of pace, there are few clips from the movie. Instead, we are treated to comments from the actors and filmmakers and tons of on-set footage. We get to see how most of the major scenes were shot. There is talk of the film's tone and what the filmmakers were aiming for. We get to see the creation and execution of the special effects makeup, and the training for stunts. We learn that a great deal of planning went into making the shoot as easy as possible. The other extra is the trailer for Inside, which is 16 x 9.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long