Admittedly, I'm pretty naïve, or even dumb, to most foreign films. Don't get me wrong, I watch more than most, but really just based off of recommendations, be it articles on the net, good word from some podcasts I listen to, random finds on Netflix, etc. So I don't just actively go searching them out. I love looking at people's list of most disturbing movies, I find it interesting how different movies affect different people differently. In the last 10 to 12 years, or really even 15 years, everyone in the world *but* the US seemingly found their stride within the horror genre. While we were busy remaking "House of Wax" with Paris Hilton, the rest of the world was churning out creative, original, and often times unrelenting horror. I kept seeing pretty much the same movies on these lists, so I kind of made it my mission to try to check them out. I've found some real gems, such as "High Tension", "The Babadook", and "The Loved Ones", but apparently, the French made ones are kind of in a class of their own. Usually very extreme and boundary-pushing in nature, they've given us some truly interesting films, like the aforementioned "High Tension", "Martyrs", and this film, "Inside". It's not going to win any awards for originality, but for fans of that visceral blood and gore, you're probably going to love it.
The movie starts just as a horrible car wreck has taken place, and we see our main character, Sarah, was driving one of the vehicles with her husband in the passenger's seat. Unfortunately, he didn't make it, but we also see that Sarah is very pregnant. Fast forward about 4 months, on Christmas Eve (who has baby ultrasounds done on Christmas Eve?), Sarah is at the hospital, VERY pregnant, still bearing the scars of the wreck, both physically and emotionally. Actress Alysson Paradis is great in this aspect, you just look at her and tell she's gone through a horribly traumatic experience, and she's all but given up on life, after losing her husband. You get the idea that she may not even care so much anymore about the baby she's carrying. We learn (I think?) that she's scheduled to have the baby the next day, but while sitting in the waiting room, a pretty creepy nurse sits next to her, and tells a disturbing story about the troubles she had in having a baby. This is a very important plot point, in hindsight.
There are a couple of subplots that either weren't explained well enough, or maybe they weren't that important at all, but we find out Sarah is a photographer by trade, and that she is possibly having a relationship with her boss. I don't think it's ever explicitly stated, but assumed. Something else that's talked about ad nauseum and shown is the fact that there are riots occurring in the streets. I'm not sure what the allusion is, maybe it's a red herring. But instead of celebrating the holiday, she simply wants to be at home alone, in the peace and quiet. We get a knock on the door, with the tried and true "stalker outside the front door" card, a lady that's had a breakdown and needs to use the phone, Sarah refuses to let her in to use the phone. The stranger outside let's Sarah know that she knows who she is, knows personal things about her. We then see some truly creepy shots of the shadowy figure outside, stalking, peering inside the windows. She's scared off, the cops are called, and of course, they can't find anyone. All must be well, right? Not so. The lady makes her way inside while Sarah is sleeping, and we see that the lady is actually the creepy nurse from before. She's apparently hell bent on retrieving the baby and keeping it as her own. This is the beginning of the gore that is sometimes stomach turning. Not necessarily in the sense that it's just disgusting for disgusting's sake, but in that its the stuff that makes you shudder because you can imagine. For instance, the nurse (which is what I'll call her) is on top of a sleeping Sarah, and drags a pair of scissors across her pregnant belly, but then when the point gets to her bellybutton, she cuts in. Can you imagine?
Sarah escapes to the bathroom, which is where a decent chunk of the movie from here on out takes place. Sarah is locked in, gashed open and bleeding, water broken, and the Nurse is just going insane trying to get into the bathroom. Like, violently insane. But this is where my problem with the film begins. For the next 45 minutes to an hour, there is a constant string of people that actually come to the house, and the Nurse disposes of them in violent ways, but in an unbelievable fashion. Sarah's boss, Sarah's mom, and I think I counted 5 different cops, are all taken out by the Nurse. I understand that she's a twisted and violent individual, and I don't care to suspend my disbelief at all...to an extent. The ways that these people are disposed of is very interesting visually, but mostly just because the special effects are pretty awesome. Things like gun shots, poker through the eye, a slit throat, blood spraying up the wall, there's certainly no shortage. In fact, I think the movie *EXISTS* because of the special effects, which is fine. I don't necessarily watch a movie like this for an award-winning screenplay, I watch it because I want to see someone get jabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors and gallons of blood spewing everywhere. One other glaring thing that pushes the film over into the "that's impossible" camp is the amount of damage that Sarah can take. I understand that she's the heroine we're rooting for, but for the entire film, she just takes an absolute beating, way past the point of the most brutal video game boss you can imagine. A seemingly infinite amount of HP, as it were.
After the bystanders are all gone, we have the inevitable showdown between Sarah and the Nurse, face to face. It's actually a pretty tense back and forth, with each pulling maneuvers on the other out of left field. I'm very hesitant to spoil the ending, just because it's different than what we're used to being spoonfed. It doesn't go perhaps in the exact direction you assume, and it's always fun when a movie can do that in modern times. Obviously, your reception to foreign films will affect how, or even if, you watch this. Personally, when I'm watching a movie in a different language, I prefer to watch it with the original dialogue and English subtitles. It seems more natural and doesn't bother me in the least to read subtitles. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority there. I find dubbing to be just completely ineffective and distracting. So is the movie great? Not really. But for gorehounds and people like me that are always looking for something to gross them out, or better yet, see *other* people squirm in their seats, you could definitely do worse. I'm very curious to see what's in store for the writers and directors, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, as they're helming the new "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" prequel "Leatherface". We shall see how they fare.
"Inside" gets 7 pairs of scissors out of 10