Please Do Disturb: Inside

Striking just the right balance between suspense and gore (the latter of which being where it truly excels) and sporting a solid story with some nice thematic touches, INSIDE, the 2007 French thriller from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, is proof that the splatter aesthetic is alive and well.

The premise is simple: a young woman on the verge of childbirth finds herself thrust into a nightmare when a mysterious, unnamed woman breaks into her apartment to steal her baby–or, to put it less mildly, cut the fetus from her using an enormous pair of scissors.

Despite a couple of missteps–such as secondary characters who make dubious choices in order to make their way to the chopping block and a cheap dream sequence complete with crappy CGI*–INSIDE is a remarkably strong film, one that gets maximum effect from its single-set location; I especially liked how the
filmmakers confined star Alysson Paradis in her tiny bathroom for most of her ordeal, a clever visual motif that echoes the womb at the film’s center. (I also found it rather brave that Bustillo and Maury made Paradis’s character somewhat unlikable–I wouldn’t say unsympathetic, given the events of the film’s prologue it’s very easy to understand how she could be bitter and resentful–yet it never lessens the intensity of her situation.)

But what most people will remember about INSIDE is its liberal use of gore. Nobody dies easily in this movie; I won’t elaborate to preserve the full impact of its violence, but I will say I felt several of these scenes in my tender parts. Yet as much as it revels in the bloodshed it’s never a simple-minded gorefest, often using the splatter as a means to connect with the audience (usually in a roundhouse
punch). It all culminates in a red, sodden climax that’s both surprisingly downbeat and satisfying, proving that French gore movies don’t have to be saddled with shitty endings (**cough, HIGH TENSION, cough**).

*Many have also commented on the “zombie cop” who makes an inexplicable
appearance near the end, which seems to have been a deal-breaker for a lot of people on the fence about this movie. True, it is a confounding moment–I found myself rewinding to make sure I hadn’t missed something–that the filmmakers could’ve excised, but the movie was so far into my good graces I was able to let it slide; it’s also yet another effective moment of unflinching brutality.

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