I’ve got the privilege to receive a copy of Inside (directed by Miguel Angel Vivas) two weeks before the movie will be released – 12th January, straight-to-DVD, thus I will avoid even the tiniest spoiler.
As for the original 2007 movie (originally titled À l’intérieur), written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, I will still keep the spoilers to a minimum not to ruin the fun for you guys.
For this double-feature I will proceed by reviewing À l’intérieur first and then I’ll make a comparison between the French movie and its American remake.
À l’intérieur – movie review
Four months after the death of her husband in a brutal car accident, Sarah – a woman on the brink of motherhood – is tormented in her home by a stranger. After calling the police and be reassured by the officers, Sarah falls asleep only to be woken up by the same woman who managed to intrude her house. Soon enough, the viewer finds himself drawn in the goriest, most violent home invasion movie ever made.
À l’intérieur by Bustillo and Maury (the same duo that directed the subpar Leatherface, 2017) is indeed part of the so-called ‘French new wave of extreme/hardcore horror cinema’. A denomination that’s well-deserved!
This movie manages to be extremely effective, disturbing and surely off-putting. The performances by Alysson Paradis (Sarah) and Beatrice Dalle (The Woman) are fantastic, realistic to the point that you don’t see actresses performing but real people in danger and on the edge of committing atrocious crimes.
Yet, the spot-on casting choices only add value to the overall action and give credibility to a film which is so over-the-top the audience really needs to suspend their disbelief in order to appreciate the bigger picture.
Furthermore, two features give a humongous boost to the tension created in this 76-minute-long movie: the sound-design and the cinematography.
In regards to the background music, À l’intérieur benefits from eerie sound effects that are nerve-wracking and perfectly enhance the horror within the story. Seriously, if you download the score for À l’intérieur and listen to it without watching any screen, you would get goosebumps and, perhaps, even night terror for the evening to come…
On the other hand, when it comes to cinematography, this French hardcore horror film goes for the ‘less is more’ route: simple but claustrophobic locations, straightforward but anxiety-inducing camera-work, basic but effective shots. Silly shaky-cam, poor editing that tends to hide the violence are nowhere to be found in the movie. Plus, the colours scheme (dark and bleak, but perfectly lit up at the same time) fits atmosphere and action in an impressive way.
And, mostly, these technical features allow the gore and the top-notch practical effects to shine and be revealed at their finest potential.
À l’intérieur is one of the most violent, brutal and guts-wrenching horror films you will ever see. Yet, this aspect never feels exploitative: far from being a gore fest, Bustillo and Maury’s creature is both psychologically and physically sickening.
Again, the setting – suburban French town in the middle of a riot caused by the miserable conditions to which migrants are pushed to live – gives an extra layer of believability to the plot and its characters.
I have only two minor issues with À l’intérieur, the first one being the beginning of the movie, hence the first 10/15 minutes. Although this first act serves as to introduce the characters in order for us to relate on them, it feels quite misplaced in comparison to the rest of the runtime.
Secondly, the twist isn’t as clever as some people make it out to be – don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t ruin the movie even in the slightest, but it doesn’t give it a boost either. At least, that’s how I perceived it.
Funnily enough, the first time I watched À l’intérieur I didn’t even like it! Now, upon watching it again for this review, it finally became my second favourite film of the ‘French new wave of extreme/hardcore horror cinema’ – with the first one being Martyrs (2009), which I would give 10+/10 to, making it one of my favourite horror movies of all time.
If you haven’t seen this masterpiece in hardcore horror cinema, do yourself a favour ang watch it as soon as possible!
Inside – movie review
Before I start, let me thank once again Embankment Film, the production company behind this 2018 remake, that sent me a copy in advance for this review. As I agreed with them, I’m not going to use any image from the film nor include any tiniest spoiler.
Inside (2018) follows the same story of À l’intérieur (2007), but it’s set in the typical wealthy American province as opposed to the poor suburbs of the original. The characters, played by American actors, have the same names as the ones in the 2007 movie.
From the very beginning, though, the differences in the execution are evident: before the opening title, the car accident involving Sarah and her husband is represented in the conventional, over-the-top Hollywood way – also anticipated by pointless dialogues and stock music.
Within the first few minutes, Inside seems very much the dumbed down version of the French original, with many sequences trying to spoon-feed the audience. And exposition everywhere, as though the viewers were stupid people in need of having everything explained for them.
For example, in this version the filmmakers added the cliché dog that senses things (and, by the way, the dog is probably the best actor in the entire film) purely to comfort the audience with unoriginal but very familiar horror tropes.
Yet, the use of extremely polished and sombre colours delivers a feeling of already seen, thus every remote attempt at building tension falls flat because you, as a viewer, experienced those features multiple times before in average or below average horror flicks.
Furthermore, the script of À l’intérieur was so well-written that every scene looked believable despite the over-the-top scenario: in this remake, characters manage to fuck up every single opportunity they have and the lazy writing revolves too heavily on people’s suspension of disbelief.
However, what bugs me the most about Inside is this: one of the goriest, most intense and brutal horror film ever made (the original) here is turned into a formulaic home invasion flick in which the pinnacle of tension is represented by the lead girl taking a needle out of her skin… without even bleeding?! Are you #@!!? kidding me?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a die-hard fan of gore and hardcore violence in horror movies, but À l’intérieur made these aspects a fundamental trait of the film – a trait that’s now disappeared only to make the movie more appealing to mainstream audiences!
Here is where I completely lost it, since I was extremely outraged by this shameless remake. I’m sorry.
Again, during the last 30 minutes of the movie, the filmmakers gave up on the isolated, secluded location that made the original so anxiety-inducing, only to broaden the environment to other houses, a garden and a swimming-pool. What were they thinking?
This lazy decision led Inside to an ending that, whilst trying to go for a different route in comparison to the original, utilises cringe-worthy one-liners and a cheesy grand finale that relies on cookie-cutter horror music and completely betrays the tone of À l’intérieur.
Before I give you my final grades for both movies, let me just say that I upgraded the overall score of Inside in this review (in comparison to what I gave it on IMDb) because I believe that, as a stand-alone movie, it’s bad but not atrocious.
Plus, I appreciated the choice of giving the main character a hearing aid – which helped making some sequences tenser – and a few other attempts to insert new elements. Overall, though, as a remake/reboot, Inside fails to deliver on every single level: if it serves to educate people of the original, then so be it. But otherwise it’s hard to justify why you’d ever choose this English-language remake over the original.
À l’intérieur (2007) 9/10
Inside (2018) 4/10
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Read my review on IMDb – Inside in two days from now