Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I Want Your Baby. US Edition: Inside (2016)

Inside (Spain/US, 2016 remake)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Rachel Nichols, Laura Harring, Stany Coppet

To this day, filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s 2007 extreme French horror À l’intérieur (or in English, "Inside") remains as one of my key slasher titles whenever I need a good scare and/or a sick sense of shocking entertainment. Its concept- a home invasion slasher centered on a pregnant woman and a baby stealing psycho- is as unsettling as the movie's use of over the top gore and a rather bleak conclusion, so I find the idea of remaking Inside kinda unnecessary as there's no possible way this film can be topped as an exploitative powerhouse. But, as you can see, Kidnapped (2010)'s director Miguel Ángel Vivas found a way to reboot this Euro horror cult classic and the results, though more commercial, honestly still delivered some solid thrills.

On her third trimester of pregnancy and still grieving over the death of her husband, Sarah (Rachel Nichols) decides to spend her Christmas Eve alone despite open invitations from family and friends to spend some time with them. Not long after, a woman (Laura Harring) comes knocking at her door asking for help with a broken car and it soon becomes clear that there's more to this stranger when she suddenly calls Sarah by her name. Police were called and, like most creeper scenarios, no woman was found by the time they get there, but they did promise to have someone patrol the area later that evening just in case.

Somewhat assured of her safety, Sarah eventually hits the hay, not knowing that the woman will return soon enough and find a way into the house, with a clear intention to steal the soon-mother's baby at all cost. What then follows is a cat-and-mouse situation between not only these two women, but also those unfortunate enough to get between them.

While the original Inside appears to build around a concept of nihilism and shock with its gloomy atmosphere, bitter protagonist and, again, generous supply of splatter, Inside (2016) has a quieter, simpler and somewhat more realistic stroll around the story, even when the carnage begins and is in play. A good deal of this could have something to do with the film's direction and writing, as the story actually took its time to flesh out the setting and situation, showing its lead struggling with her loss and attempting to voice out her concerns as a single parent within her loved ones and friends. The film even dedicated a few moments in the opening to show Sarah happily interacting with her husband before his demise a few scenes later, an approach that not only provided further context behind our lead's grieving, but made her more human and accessible to feel sympathetic for once trouble found her.

In turn, the horror elements of Inside (2016) has a calm yet intense approach that strongly focuses on tone and atmosphere instead of disturbing body horror and a messily high kill count. This can be easily seen on how the movie portrayed it's villainess, an unnamed woman with a look and aura of normalcy around her despite hiding a sinister and methodic secret. Laura Harring plays this antagonist effectively with a chill, managing to create quite a disturbing character that doesn't need to overly mutilate her victims and paint the entire house red to be scary, but through sheer dedication to her goal and simple gestures such as holding up a picture of a victim's loved one over their face while slowly killing them.

This meant that (save for one victim) the gore and blood work of Inside (2016) are relatively simple. Far from being tame but harking back to the quick and easy killing styles of late 70s and early 80s slasher flicks, with a lot of stalking scenes and home invasion survival horror, many of which are effectively shot and structured around Sarah's disability to hear (caused by the car crash) and, of course, her vulnerability from carrying her child. Both weaknesses even found their way to stylize the scares and thrills together by deafening some moments to nothing but the sound of heartbeats, Sarah's and/or her child's, emotionally reaching out to us to feel what they feel. Sometimes these styles and directions work, sometimes they don't, but I can honestly say that Inside (2016) would have made it pretty far as a decent remake and a movie of its own, if it wasn't for its last third act.

While the first hour of Inside (2016) follows the plot of the original with only a few tweaks here and there, the remaining 20 to 30 minute run rails off the track and went on with its own pace and plotting, something that would have been fine with me if it didn't felt like re-hashed scenes from countless slasher tropes, from entering a spooky house (which is obviously the killer's hideaway) to look for help, to hiding inside closets where you know the psycho will most likely wise up to and attack our heroine at. None of these, however, measure to the odd conclusion director Vivas went with, making our villainess curveball to a more "honorable" type despite all the cruelty and lives she took, doing the finale away with chock full of symbolism, orchestral score and stylish visual works. I admit it's in tone with the rest of the movie, but the routine slasher scares barely made an impact and that heartwarming and sympathetic twist on the killer felt a tad too forced.

In my eyes, nothing will top the wild, artsy, no-holding-back exploitation Inside (2007) assaulted our senses with, but it is nice to see a more comfortable variation of this film in the form of Inside (2016), even more that there's more hits than misses. With its style and twists mostly deviated from its source material, this remake might as well be a film of its own and it strongly deserves to be seen as one. See it!

1 male killed in car crash
1 dog killed offcamera
1 female gets a glass shard to the neck, bled to death
1 male stabbed on the back with a knife, smothered
1 male had his throat slashed with a knife
1 female shot on the eye
1 male repeatedly stabbed with a peeler, throat punctured with a pair of scissors
1 female drowned inside an enclosed pool
Total: 9

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