Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie Review: INSIDE (2007)

Sometimes, I can be very guilty of having a deep seated interest in seeing just how far can I push myself viewerwise. There was indeed a time when in those angry young man days, a simple horror film wasn't enough to test out those chill factor boundaries, which of course led into an interest in often darker crannies of the video dome. Yes, sometimes a Traces Of Death video would be found, lying around alongside various Industrial & Experimental noise CDs. It's safe to say that this was a sort of means of reveling in newfound adulthood in some respects. But when discussing horror of the fictionalized world, few recent works have the accumulated oomph, and psychic terror than the 2007 french effort À l'intérieur directed by Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo. A film that so easily transcends fair description as it carries with it burdens far beyond the clearly established, and instantly shocking premise of a young mother-to-be (Alysson Paradis) stalked on Xmas eve by an unknown quantity (Béatrice Dalle), outside her home, bound to get into the house by any means....and to take the unborn baby, by any means.

It is a singularly ghastly idea, made all the more so by the carefully executed script & direction that alludes to more beyond the simple plotline regarding the turmoil of the world outside. Made soon after the 2005 Civil Unrest France experienced after several youths were allegedly abused at the hands of local police. The resulting fervor also incited worries regarding the largely immigrant population of the surrounding suburbs of Paris, making it quite difficult to live there as many of North African descent fell under increasing scrutiny. And in the film, we take the simple idea of a young pregnant woman, who recently lost her husband in a horrific car accident, in an understandably moody haze in the hours before the birth of their first, only to get a knock at the door by someone who apparently knows too much, and won't leave until the unborn child is in her hands. All the while, news reports are awash throughout the narrative of the unrest, keeping local law enforcement at bay, making matters even worse for our central character who is home alone. The film could have easily enough left us with the premise, alone to shock and chill us to the bone with all the sure hand of a young team of filmmakers, but this is far from a simple stalk & slash, as it clearly has a lot more in mind.

And yet, the film takes the stance already laid forth by other French Horror Wave filmmakers (Think Haute Tension, Frontiere[s]), and offers up no remorse, no simple solutions, and an experience in self-testing rarely rivaled in the genre. Even as police are called, friends visit, assorted parties are led to the lonesome home setting, little feels safe about 's world, as the stalker seems to also not know what she is capable of. In this manner, the performances by the two leads is at times truly upsetting, and fascinating. Just as much as we are in awe with just how far the film is willing to go, The Mother(Paradis) & The Wannabe(Dalle) are equally as unpredictable, which adds some visceral flavor to an already aesthetically lean plot. And yet, once barrier are broken in regards to where the story goes, it takes directions that run contradictory to what most horror tales have shied (and most often,understandably) away from. It isn't afraid to take that last ounce of adrenaline, piss & vinegar to take the film into realms of the profoundly troubling, which strangely enough is thematically sound. And we haven't even touched upon the surprisingly lovely camerawork by Laurent Bares, and the effectively eerie score by Francois Eudes.

Which isn't to say that the film isn't above some desperate last ditch attempts at shocks near the uncompromising finale, but it is by far one of the most effectively wrenching & exhausting horror films in recent memory. Horror tales are meant to affect and last, with sacrifices made, and harsh lessons to be shared regarding the contemporary human condition, no matter how challenging. And quite possibly, this is an ultimate example of extreme horror. Traverse with caution.

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