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A l’intérieur (Inside – 2007)

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The Boy is Mine

Biblically simple, Inside has only five short expository scenes before The Woman is unleashed to attack The Mother, in a way Jean Eustache had never dreamed of – or have nightmares about when writing La Maman et la Putain. The Mother had a car accident in which she loses her husband, but the baby she’s pregnant with is fine, confirms her obstetrician; she meets an ominous nurse, then her estranged mother on the hospital parking lot. Her boss confirms she’s a a great photographer. Fast forward to almost delivery time, in a suburban home incongruously bearing a 666 address – no French house has such a number, but it displays some ambition from the film makers to transcend their national market. And so they do, in the best French horror movie of its decade.

These initial scenes establish that Alysson Paradis (Vanessa’s younger sister) is unable to act; fortunately what will be required of her in the rest of the movie is to scream, to crawl and be terrorised by The Woman, quite splendidly played by Beatrice Dalle, tapping deep into her inner witch. The Woman wants The Mother’s baby, see, and nothing will stop her to rip it off her womb. There goes a tightly paced, gory thriller not quite any other.

Inside, as its title indicates, is claustrophobic to the point of slapstick. The Mother hardly leaves the bathroom she has found refuge in, mostly being successful in keeping the Woman, well, outside. Various intruders unwillingly come to her rescue – her boss, her mother, a police team featuring a petty thief they have previously arrested – that The Woman dispatches by way of a firearm, a knife, a knitting needle or her weapon of choice, scissors. Big ones. Not that she doesn’t go through hell herself in the process.

The Mother is a survivor because she carries life; The Woman has nothing to lose she hadn’t already. Both will inflict pain on the other, until the brilliant – and utterly logic, for once – finale, playing like an atrocious fairy tale. Inside is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”, to quote Mary Shelley about Lord Byron. It’s definitely no date movie, or if it is, one of you puppies is definitely sick. Highly recommended.

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