Not particularly a fan of horror movies, I was nonetheless curious about this rerelease of an infamous 2007 slasher flick that has since become identified as a prime example of the so-called new wave of French horror, which tends to intensify the disgust factor by combining graphic bodily injury with extreme emotional distress, usually through the narrative use of torture. The local distributor has promoted this new release as the “uncut” complete version without really explaining what makes it different from the original one. The movie is about a pregnant woman being stalked by another woman who apparently wants the child for herself, and according to an internet search the original version had shots of the fetus inside its mother’s uterus reacting to the mayhem going on outside the mother’s body, and the directors, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, didn’t know about these inclusions until they saw the finished product at the premiere. Apparently, they were pissed off at the producers for interfering and demanded they be removed, so I am assuming this uncut version is actually that original version, since it does include shots of the fetus.
Obviously, placing a child—nay, an unborn child—in harm’s way will make the bloody action even more off-putting, but, for me, at least, there’s a tipping point to horror after which every bit of extreme carnage simply feels redundant. The thing about Inside is that it delays this point for a long time, so much of the first half of the film (a very efficient 83 minutes) is compelling dramatically; which isn’t to say it’s suspenseful. Maury and Bustillo dispense with the hackneyed jump scares and musical jolt cues and concentrate on an accretion of plot elements that explain the motive of the murderous, unnamed stalker (Beatrice Dalle) in a satisfying way, meaning it’s not much of mystery. Her victim, Sarah (Alysson Paradis), lost her husband several months earlier in a traffic accident in which she herself was injured, but both she and her baby survived. The action takes place on the night before she plans to have her delivery induced, and she is alone when the stalker invades her house armed with a pair of scissors.
The simpler the horror premise, the more effective the movie, but you need more than just a woman with scissors chasing a pregnant woman around her Paris apartment to create ongoing excitement for a feature length film, so Maury and Bustillo inject a subplot about riots going on in the neighborhood which allow them to place a fair number of policemen in harm’s way, not to mention Sarah’s mother and employer, who drop by to check on her, understandably anxious that she is spending such a fraught night alone. (She has still not recovered from her husband’s death, another important facet to the story.) Suffice to say that once the blood-letting does start, it gets pretty gross, but at about the time when a prisoner of the police, begging for his life, gets the scissors-through-the-skull treatment I had reached my own tipping point. You can probably guess the ending. “Uncut” is definitely not the operative word here.
In French. Opens today in Tokyo at Human Trust Cinema Shibuya (03-5468-5551).
Inside home page in Japanese
photo (c) 2007 La Fabrique de Films BR Films