Inside ★★★★½

It's always kind of irked me that I haven't been able to get behind any of the New French Extremity horror films, because I'm so enthusiastic about the general idea of making films which go in this truly horrifying direction. I did like High Tension but it does have that twist which I'm still not sure how I feel about. Speaking of third act swerves, the final half hour of Martyrs just pissed me off - not the brutality of it, more the fact that it's fucking boring.

Finally I've found the FNE movie for me! I pretty much adored Inside from start to finish. Maury and Bustillo really nailed it in this film in a way I don't think they have since. Livid is a really good film, but it gets a bit too weird and incoherent in the second half for my liking. This movie, on the other hand, seems to elegantly traverse that uncanny horizon between reality and surrealism to beautifully disorienting effect.

We don't know why Beatrice Malle is attacking our heroine played by Alysson Paradis. And like her, we don't even really get a chance to ponder this question, because the onslaught is so sustained and ferocious. In fact, the biggest doubt in my mind whether any of this was really happening in the narrative or was just some kind of weird nightmare.

This film has to be the queen of the home invasion horror films. It exploits that innate claustrophobic terror so well, but somehow creates a world in which we're not only holed up with the protagonist, we see the "inside" of the home as a series of layers - the bathroom is at the absolute centre, but there are various dim environments within the entire apartment space which are violated in different ways. The analogy with one's own psyche is pretty clear - and although, along with the title, perhaps these parallels between different concepts of the interior (the subconscious, the home, the womb, the family unit) might be argued to be somewhat self-conscious, I don't think it disrupts the fabric of the basic narrative at all. You don't have to ponder all this shit, you can just choose to experience the terrifying thrill of the story and it works just as well.

I decided to rent this as I assumed this would be the kind of movie you watch once and then don't need to again (I'm still slightly regretting buying Martyrs on blu-ray because I doubt I'll ever watch that one again). But despite its grimness, I would happily rewatch Inside - in fact, I really want to do so at least one more time to see how it all lands when one knows the final twist (I won't spoil it, but this one actually works, pretty spectacularly at that).

This is one of the classic horrors of the aughts. Brilliant.

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