Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Film Review: "À l'intérieur" (A+!)

Believe it or not, I managed to see this movie a second time. Both times I must thank the Drafthouse and everyone behind it for, because this movie is one of the best horror movies I've ever seen.

Warning: Spoilers! If you plan on ever seeing this, I suggest going in completely blank and knowing nothing. The film experience will be much better that way.

"À l'intérieur" (or "Inside") is brutal, unrelenting and utterly terrifying. There is no ego or horror movie snobbery here, but I do want to preface my review of this by saying that there are very few movies that have made me want to want to leave. If that makes any sense at all. The thing is - this film may be terrifying, it may be gorey and it may be one of the sickest things you see in a long time ... but it's a beautiful piece of work.

One of the scariest things - to me personally, anyway - is people hiding in the shadows or those figures/monsters that just have to stand still and they scare the shit out of you. This is in full force here. There are some genius moments utilizing that here. From the very beginning when we are introduced to the killer (the film never specifies her name), it's just fucking creepy. The glow of the cigarette silhouetting her face, the simple shot to the glass, the quiet discontent and tension that just haunts every scene. The anticipation just builds and builds until you almost can't stand it, so when she puts those scissors in Sarah (Alysson Paradis)'s belly button, you almost want to scream yourself. I sat there in the theater almost in disbelief as the scissors slid in, felt myself react in shock with the character. From then on, this movie is a dark, macabre, emotional roller coaster that never truly lets up.

The acting is amazing. I truly believed in Beatrice Dalle's portrayal of the woman as thinly holding on to what sanity she has left and even then only so she can last the night and steal the baby. Alysson Paradis is also so notable in this film by achieving such a sad vulnerability before the incident takes place, then achieving pure terror and THEN making me believe she was this kick-ass woman who just might win. Simply fantastic acting completely across the board, including the surrounding characters who come and ... die.

Just a note about the gore - the film has buckets of it. I first saw this film at Fantastic Fest at it's second screening. Here I am sitting in a theater at midnight, happily chowing down on some ice cream to fuel me through the next two hours (I had been up for two days straight, thank you very much FFest). As the film was about to start, I looked around and saw that I was maybe one of 3 or 4 women in the theater and I was the only one who wasn't sitting with a man. Not that that's important, but as the film was introduced it was noted that a woman had actually thrown up at the prior screening! At this screening, which was at the Drafthouse Village as part of Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, more women were in the theater (again, I was the only single) and I could have sworn that the two women next to me were either going to die in fright or throw up all over me (and not from the beer they were consuming). Needless to say, I moved over.

The cinematography, the lighting, everything about this movie is nothing short of pure greatness. The music, especially, grated on my nerves, which was exactly what it needed it to do. Everytime that shrieking started, I knew we were in for something and it made me tense up, which of course made me sit there gaping like a fish at the screen. I love horror movies that manage to be perfectly paced with a slow-burning anticipation that explodes into pure chaos. To me, these are the best about the genre and this film is certainly an example. It leaves you feeling open and raw, excited about getting up out of your seat and into your car so you can get back to normalcy.

The script deserves an entire post to itself - it really is that good. One of the great things about "Inside" is that it doesn't really have a monster and a victim, at least I don't think you're meant to take it that way. Both female characters have back stories and reasons for why the way they are and I honestly couldn't take a side. You feel for both of them - one drive to insanity because she lost her baby and the other one paying for causing it by losing her boyfriend and her life, essentially. It's not that you identify with the woman at the end as she cuts open Sarah for her baby (which you see every step of, by the way), you just have to understand there is a reasoning for her being the way she is. Even Sarah feels some mercy towards her, which is probably what ends up being the reason why she loses her life.

This film is just so fucking terrifying. I can't get over it. When the woman is outside the house, you start to think everything is going to be okay ... and then she's in the house and it seems like she's absofuckinglutely everywhere. She blends into the background, her face hidden in the shadows. The directing deserves some sort of accolade, but of course it won't get anything outside of the horror circle (if even that). The scene where Sarah is on the couch and you think the woman is behind her, but then you think she isn't, and then she is - in one of the truly most haunting shots of the entire film.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this film. Of course it has flaws here and there, but overall this movie is one of the greatest experiences I've had in a theater. Definitely one you should see at least once - even if you're feeling scared off by the gore. I saw it twice and I desperately want another viewing already so I can prove to myself that I can sit through it without jumping or squirming in my seat.

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