It's rare that I actively hate a film, that a film gets so under my skin in a negative way that I spit or pronounce its name with a guttural groan. But the French horror-thriller Inside, directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, is just such a film. I saw this last year at a film festival, unfortunately prefaced by the excitement of a few fellow horror-loving critics who had already seen it. All of them proclaimed how much they couldn't wait to see it again, so I was understandability excited. Unfortunately for me, the reasons these folks liked it proved to be exactly the same reasons why I loathed it.
Released on DVD this week, Inside is gross, disgusting, nasty horror that goes for the cheap scare, utilizing a story that automatically puts the audience at a state of unrest. It is the story of pregnant Sarah (Alysson Paradis), just shy of giving birth, who is dealing with the loss of her baby's father in a car accident. Then a malicious psycho (Béatrice Dalle) shows up peering through the window, eager to cut the baby right out of Sarah -- with big, shiny kitchen shears -- and claim it as her own. Yeah. It's a feel-good film.
The chief problems with Inside however have little to do with the concept. The description alone should tell you whether or not you are on the path to checking this out. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that I've lost half the readership already just by describing the plot. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problems as most weak or bad horror. It is too reliant on bloody gore effects that look cheap and almost cartoonish. The blood looks artificial, at times seeming more comical than grotesque. And worst of all, the characters are so inept, so mystifyingly devoid of common sense that you perpetually grasp your hair in an attempt to pull it out in frustration. It is a stupid, insipid piece of exploitation that gains its only effectiveness from our natural aversion to hurting a pregnant woman.
And that's why some people love it. They revel in the cheap, easy, effective things this film does to mess with the audience. Watching a pregnant women take hits to her stomach might make an audience reel in horror, but that doesn't make it clever. And really that's the ultimate sin of this film. There is nothing clever about it; nothing surprising or halfway original. It is torture porn with the preggers. Just add gallons and gallons of fake blood.
This Dimension Extreme DVD edition is pretty bare-bones as well. There's one, count 'em, one special feature on the whole disc: a 52-minute subtitled "making of" documentary that will entertain only those already in love with the film. It was far too self-congratulatory for those displeased with it that my wife (who hated the film with an equal disdain) had to leave the room because she kept yelling at the screen that "No, the script was not genius or different, thank you very much!"
But if the words "gory," "nasty," and "cheap" send your flag up, this might prove to be the film for you. The people that love this really love it. I just happen to be one of those who really don't love it.