France has been coming through with some of the most visceral and brutal horror films of the last decade or so. High Tension, Martyrs, Frontier(s), even Calvaire are as raw as almost anything produced in the USA, and usually more interesting to boot. Inside may be the bloodiest of all these relatively recent French imports. In fact, there's more blood spilled in this movie than in almost any other I've seen with the exception of early Peter Jackson stuff - and those were comedies.
Sarah is extremely pregnant on Christmas Eve. Having survived a horrible auto wreck only 4 months prior and losing her husband in the process, she is due to go to the hospital and induce labor the next day. Instead of spending the holiday with family or friends, she opts to spend the evening at home. This ends up being a colossal mistake. An imposing woman shows up at Sarah's door demanding to be let in, and soon makes it clear that she knows exactly who Sarah is and what she wants to take from Sarah. What follows is almost literally a bloodbath, and the unflinching presentation of the violence is at times almost overwhelming.
While the major conflict is clearly between Sarah and La Femme, what's more affecting at times is what happens to the unfortunate people who stand in the way between the two of them. A lot of people die in awful ways, and not many of them are fair. The directors clearly enjoy setting the viewer up to take a figurative sigh of relief or some brief respite from the tension, only to snatch any implied hope away. It's maddening, but thematically sound in my opinion.
There is some ambiguity to the main characters that I found interesting as well. Sarah is naturally the victim here. However, as she is depressed and heartbroken at having lost her mate, she doesn't seem to be too involved in the process of giving birth to her baby. She actually seems pissed off and resentful of all of it. La Femme is crazy as a shithouse rat - but all of her cruelty and determination is going towards having a child of her own. I don't seriously believe that a murdering psychopath would make a better parent than an angry and depressed person - but that fact that it's even something to think about is interesting.
Inside is a tightly focused, artfully composed splatter movie. The special effects are top notch. On more than one occasion, I ended up watching between my fingers, and that doesn't happen often. An enormous dose of suspension of disbelief is required at times, and I suppose it's more of a slick than gritty type of horror film, but this is a keeper for sure.
Tomorrow: Eden Lake