Saturday, February 15, 2014

Women in Horror: Inside

* spoilers *

Sarah has been in a traumatic car accident that took the life of her husband just a few weeks ago. After the accident, she pushes the people in her life away and plans to spend Christmas Eve and the day before her baby is to be born alone. A stranger comes to her door asking to use the phone, but Sarah refuses, saying her husband is sleeping. The stranger harasses her at her house at first trying to coax her way inside with a sob story, but quickly reveals she knows who Sarah is and that she poses a danger. Sarah calls the police and they don't seem to take it to seriously, but they agree to come back to make sure she's ok later. Then the stranger is in her house, chasing her and attacking her, to steal Sarah's baby right out of her body. A bloody cat and mouse game ensues with a shocking, gory conclusion.

Inside is one of the new wave of extreme French horror films and I believe it to be the best of them. Although the film is incredibly gory and bloody, the writing is quite good, especially in the characterization and portrayal of the two women. It would have been so easy to make both of them one dimensional characters, Sarah as good and la Femme (the stranger) as evil. However, Sarah is depressed and alone after the car accident. She succeeds in pushing everyone in her life away and doesn't seem excited her pregnancy or her life. She opts to stay alone on Christmas Eve rather than spend it with her family. Although it's understandable, she's abrasive, cold, and mean, but not undeserving of sympathy. Even though she seems like she's given up on life, she fights ferociously when she and her unborn child's lives are in danger. Many people go through her house as potential saviors, but Sarah stands on her own and survives when all the others are killed by la Femme. Pregnant women (and oftentimes women in general) are  seen as weak and incapable, but Sarah proves to be resilient and strong.

La Femme is also a strong woman. She dispatches person after person who tries to help or save Sarah. Instead of a flatly evil villain, she also experienced tragedy. The same car accident that killed Sarah's husband killed her late-term unborn child. She wants to replace the child she lost with Sarah's and is willing to tear it from her body. This is the most frightening aspect of the film for me, that she doesn't even view Sarah as a person, only as a receptacle for her to take from. I like that it's never revealed who was at fault for the accident because it ultimately doesn't matter. Both women lost something substantial and basically the same things: people in their lives and their mental health. La Femme is obviously insane, but does garner some sympathy because of her loss. She isn't a mindless killer or an automaton, merely a woman driven mad by grief.

The ending is poignant and powerful. La Femme and Sarah battle it out throughout the film relentlessly. Then, a man attacks Sarah, endangering her child. La Femme defends Sarah and they present a united front because they both value the child's life about their own and each other's. Sarah finally outwardly shows tenderness towards her baby. La Femme cares for Sarah as she tenderly cuts the baby out of her, a complete turnaround from the savagery of before. Even though the moment is violent, the two finally understand each other and work towards the same goal.

Inside is an intense and gory film that features two believable, flawed, and broken women. Both of them are strong despite their losses, but make mistakes that cost them. The film has its flaws, the greatest being the CGI baby scenes and unbelievable decisions and happenings requiring a serious suspension of disbelief. However, the positives outweigh the negatives with the atmospheric score, the dynamic portrayal of the characters, and the intense suspense throughout.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins

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