À l’intérieur

Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, France, 2007, 83 min.

Halloween has just passed, but it isn’t too late to watch a crazy horror film. And if it’s crazy and gory you are looking for, you can’ go wrong with À l’intérieur (Inside), a brutal French pregnancy horror.

A young woman, Sarah (Alysson Paradis), is left alone in her home on Christmas Eve. Her husband died in a car accident, so she is alone. She is also heavily pregnant and scheduled to give birth to her baby the next day. All she has to do is wait for her boss and friend to come pick her up in the morning. Unfortunately, during the night she has to contend with a crazed woman (Béatrice Dalle) who will stop at nothing to make the fetus her own

The film is short, and the first 20 minutes (after the bloody intro car accident) really take their time. They did build the mood, but it felt like the film was trying to stretch as much as it could to be feature length.

Fortunately, after the characters and the situation are introduced, the film picks up very quickly. Sarah is disturbed by a knock on her door. A women on the other side, claiming to need to use the telephone, knows far too much about Sarah and her past. Sarah doesn’t let her in but the women eventually finds her way into the house.

This sets up a nightmarishly cringey and gory showdown between the two (and some other unfortunate people) that lasts for the rest of the film. The first instance is when the baby-thief creeps up on the sleeping Sarah with a large pair of steel scissors. She exposes the woman’s bulging belly and slowly drags the scissors along the skin to the belly button, getting ready to cut. It’s oh-my-god-turn-your-head-away stuff.

Lucky for Sarah, the first piercing of her stomach wakes her up she manages to escape to the bathroom where she barricades herself in. The next hour is an orgy of over-the-top violence. It’s quite remarkable how much happens.

Other people come into the house (her boss, her mother, the police), but this psycho lady cannot be stopped. Those scissors stab and slice many times in many interesting ways. It just keeps getting more and more absurd, but the film never loses its mood.

The film follows the standard horror-movie/siege-movie scenario. Characters do really stupid things, everyone is one-dimensional, and the usual cliches happen. Still, the film has lots of energy and creativity behind it. The fact that Sarah is heavily pregnant, and that the baby is in constant danger just add to the tension as well.

By the end of the film, the directors had me in a mood where I could believe what happens in the climax. (Which is even more over-the-top than the rest of the film). I was laughing out loud with shock, awe, and horror at what was going on.

Overall, À l’intérieur is a great little horror film that is a must for fans of the genre. The directors  bring some fresh energy and guts (no pun intended) to the standard genre film. At the end, I didn’t know who I was rooting for, but I was happy to go along for the ride.

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