Next up was Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s “Inside (a.k.a. À l’intérieur),” a nasty little French film from last year that was recently dumped on DVD in North America. I’d been keen on seeing it since it was profiled in a recent edition of the excellent Canadian Horror magazine Rue Morgue and wondered why it hadn’t gotten a release, or any real attention this side of the Atlantic. I can’t say that after viewing it I have any real answers, just more questions about the fuss raised about “Haute Tension (High Tension),” although it likely got caught in the recent “torture porn” backlash, which isn’t really fair. I will also concede that it is rather French, so take that for what it’s worth.
The film opens with a pregnant woman suffering a terrible car accident, and we are quickly given a view of the baby in the womb as the amniotic sac fills with blood. We cut to 4 months later on Christmas eve and Sarah (Alysson Paradis, Vanessa’s sister) is being told to come back to the hospital the following day so that the doctor can induce labour. If she seems a little less than enthusiastic about the whole process, it is likely due to the fact that the baby’s father is dead, killed in the car wreck that also left Sarah with a tiny network of facial scars. She is ambivalent towards her limited support network, an intrusive mother and her boss with whom she may or may not be having an affair. But, after a strange woman appears at her door in the middle of the night, Sarah has to put aside her psychological trauma to fight for her life and that of her unborn child.
Without prompting from Susie we actually forgot to set the audio and subtitle settings before the film and we all mocked L for repeatedly choosing the French subtitles, forgetting that we were in the presence of native English speakers. Chris outed himself as probably the only boy in Quebec who did not grow up with a crush on Vanessa Paradis and MC noted that she and Al made a perfect match because she has a crush on Johnny Depp.
We quickly noticed a serious flaw with the subtitles as all the dates times and numerical amounts were flat out wrong. Where we heard “Mardi,” which is French for Tuesday, the subtitles said “Monday.” If they said “12,” the subtitles read “11”. Al had also managed to miss the exchange about the fate of the father, so when he remarked that the father was a “deadbeat,” I got to reply that no, actually, he was just dead. Lee also helped us with a crash course in continental French slang, explaining that “flic” meant “cops,” as did “cuff.”
MC and Chris both noted that their expectations for scares and plot twists were overly influenced by American horror films, and MC noted with some sadness that she didn’t realize until it was over that she should have been more scared by Michael Haneke’s “Caché.” However, perhaps our esteem for French horror was a little premature as giant gaps in logic quickly became apparent. And while there was plenty of atmosphere, and more than enough gruesomeness, things started to seem like a little too much.
Lee asked if Sarah’s address was “666, for real?” and remarked that she felt like she was being beaten over the head. The fact that the villainess seemed to be dressed as some sort of Renaissance Fair going goth witch, also started to strain credibility. This lead to many comments along the lines of “it’s French,” or “they’re French,” or “she’s crazy” to explain the plot holes and puzzling archness. L decided that the ending would be the true test of the film, whether it would redeem itself or cause us to curse it like we did “Haute Tension.” We also took to screaming at the screen like an audience in Harlem:
“Don’t do that!”
“Move it or lose it, you fat cow!”
But still, we all seemed to be cringing in the right places and the horror of the premise could not be denied. It was also very refreshing to see a truly scary female horror villain, played by Béatrice Dalle, who apparently used to be a huge star in France but who has worked less in recent years due to a bad reputation. Also refreshing was the frank and graphic violence, but the ending positively smacked of “Frenchness.”
Chris bitterly commented that “the French don’t know how to end their movies,” amid many exclamations of “what?!” for the final, implausible shocks. Despite all this, I would still recommend “Inside” to hardcore horror fans as it seriously kicks the a*s of most current American horror efforts, even if the directors seemed to be working overtime to make sure the ending was as bleak, gory, and nihilistic as possible.
While still “too much”, L did agree that he was not nearly as enraged as at the end of “Haute Tension” by “Inside.” But he still couldn’t understand why it hadn’t played Fantasia last year. Chris pointed out that it likely had to do with timing, while I suspect that money was also an issue because the American distribution rights are held by Dimension, which is silly because a good festival response could have easily sold this movie.
The hit of the night was clearly “9 Souls,” but as my first Quebecois double bill, the night was an all around success. Not to mention a perfect start to the 19 crazy days of the 2008 Fantasia ahead.
See how the evening began in Meeko’s Movie Night Massacre: “9 Souls”>>>