In this remake of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s À l’intérieur, heavily pregnant Sarah Clarke is tormented by a woman who wants her unborn baby.
À l’intérieur is a horror masterpiece and any attempt to re-imagine or remake its story in its gutsy, violent and unforgettably gory way, is a fruitless one. That being said, for those who can’t stomach subtitles and have refrained from watching the original, will find Inside to be a mostly competent home invasion tale. It certainly does not have the punch to the face that À l’intérieur has, but Inside has a decent two thirds, and only disappoints in the final act.
As with the original, Inside follows a widowed pregnant woman called Sarah who has lost her husband in a car crash. On Christmas Eve she gets a knock on the door and is greeted by a woman who wants to come inside. Sarah says no, but the mysterious woman still gets in and what ensues is a bloody (ish), claustrophobic (ish) cat-and-mouse battle between two women desperate for the same baby.
As I said, the first two thirds of Inside aren’t half bad. It certainly lacks the emotional drive of À l’intérieur with Rachel Nichols unable to equal Alysson Paradis’ perfect sense of desperation and heart-break as the events escalate around her. She undoubtedly gives it her all, but she isn’t helped by the script that is filled with clichéd dialogue, lacking the credibility felt with the French original. Although À l’intérieur’s events fall into the horrifically bizarre and bewildering, the script and performances keep the story’s feet firmly on the ground.
À l’intérieur was propelled by Beatrice Dalle’s powerful and sinister La femme, but for Inside, Laura Harring gives her best impression of Dalle, when she should have made the character her own. You can feel her mind ticking as she moves gracefully round the house, desperate to mimic Dalle’s effortlessly menacing facade, but failing because she simply pales in comparison. However, Harring is the best part of the film and the moments where she’s banging hard on the bathroom door yelling Sarah’s name are chilling in their own right, but the film as a whole lacks in terms of suspense and threat. Inside is an overall dull experience, where you’ll struggle to remember if anything worthy of watching ever happened. As a remake of one of the most unforgettable horror films of all time, that is criminal.
Inside ticks some of the boxes to ensure it matches the narrative stops of the original, with Sarah making one hugely terrible mistake when her mother visits. It is the film’s most striking moment, but for those who see it as a replication will cease to be impressed. The police come across as being totally useless again, but Inside does cross the line into the unbelievable when the female officer tells the bloodied Sarah to go back upstairs, when she is inches away from escape. The film was pretty much a sinking ship throughout, but this was the moment it fell entirely off a cliff for me. Previous to this in a strange moment of comedy, we see Sarah run upstairs when she sees the Woman stab a police officer in the face – with the front door wide open! – and now she’s told to go back upstairs again? No thanks, I’m out.
From this moment on, the film tries to make up for entirely skimping out on the original film’s fantastic and gruesome ending, by taking things further in the narrative, rather than in the shock value. It all goes a bit stupid by the end and, as I’d already given up on the story by this point, I could no longer be shocked by the film’s hilariously bad so-hoped symbolic ending.
It’s a difficult one to review, because I hold the original film so highly in regard, but even as a standalone film, Inside is a painfully mediocre experience that does not impress in its performances, its story or the terror that should lurk within it. Avoid if you love À l’intérieur and avoid if you like good horror, because Inside is a below average attempt of recreating both.
Words: Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical)