DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: L'INTERIEUR (INSIDE)

Thursday 15 May 2008


L’Interieur (Inside) (2008) dir. Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Starring: Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis


On DVD this week is a must-see for horror fans. A gory little French film that has already become a notorious cult hit fueled by its reputation as one of the goriest films ever made - "Inside" (or "L'Interieur"). The gore is indeed heavy and disgusting, but anyone can do gore; what makes the film good and the filmmakers people to watch out for is their ability to generate true skin-crawling suspense. Sometimes it's the graphic bloodletting, sometimes its those intangible cinema techniques of cinematography, editing, music, sound, acting etc etc. Bustillo and Maury are the real deal and so is “L’Interieur”.

The film opens with an audacious CG shot inside the womb of a woman. A fetus is floating happily in its amniotic fluid when a sudden shock occurs whiplashing the baby forward, knocking its head against the woman’s stomach. The woman is Sarah, and she has just been in a car accident. It’s a horrific scene, her husband is dead, but she is alive. Months later we discover her baby has survived as well. But without her husband she is alone and depressed.

On the night before she is to deliver, a mysterious woman appears at her door. A seemingly calm voice behind the door gives off strange signals to Sarah. The woman (dressed like Mrs. Baylock from "The Omen") turns out to be a serial killer of some sort and lays siege to the home. Who is she and what does she want with Sarah? Visitors to the house enter and exit the story and usually end up being slashed to pieces with uncompromising sadistic force. A game of bloody cat and mouse are played between the two women over the course of the evening with Sarah’s baby caught in between. By the end the entire house is stained with sprays of blood and littered with gruesome carcasses.

This directing duo know their horror films and have clearly been influenced by the great horror films of the late 70’s and early 80’s. “The Omen”, “Dressed to Kill”, some Argento films all creep into the film, but it’s John Carpenter who is omnipresent. The intense synth score by François Eudes pays homage to Carpenter's glorious scores from “Halloween”, “The Fog” and more.

The film begins creating tension by establishing a general tone of unease and creepiness. The film is jumpstarted with a bravura sequence when the mystery lady first appears at Sarah’s door. Each scene gets more and more intense climaxing with one of the most awesome shots in horror-cinema history. Great horror film moments are made by the technical framing of the shot, lighting and placement of the camera. For example Hitchcock’s overhead camera placement before Martin Balsam’s character is attacked in “Psycho” made that moment great. For Bustillo and Maury, near the beginning they frame a shot of Sarah sitting on her couch, in the most frightening manner. I don’t know if it was by design or by accident, but it's spellbinding.

The infamous gore effects occurs in the latter half of the film, when action reigns over scares. The two combatants make creative use of a pair of scissors and a knitting needle. The film is not perfect and does fall into some logical plot holes. For an assailant with such sadistic force, it’s a little convenient that she has trouble opening a locked door for most of the film.

The title has two literal meanings – the baby which Sarah protects insider her body, and her own entrapment inside the remote home she lives in – but the filmmakers unfortunately never quite nail the metaphorical meaning of the title. The finale wraps up some story questions, but certainly doesn’t water down the gruesomeness. The gore is taken to a whole other level in the climax which makes for great audience participation. Enjoy.

"L'Interieur" is now available on DVD in Canada from Alliance Films"

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