Monday, February 12, 2024

INSIDE (2007) (Second Sight Films Blu-ray Review)

INSIDE (2007)
Limited Edition Blu-ray

Label: Second Sight Films
Region Code: B
Rating: Cert. 18
Duration: 82 Minutes 38 Seconds 
Audio: French DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Cast: Alysson Paradis, Béatrice Dalle

Gruesome French slasher Inside (2007) is directed by the duo of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (The Deep House, Leatherface), it's a gore-soaked home invasion-slasher that was part of the new wave of extreme French horror of the early 00's. I remember when I first watched it I was digging my nails into the sofa armrest like few films had done before or since, it's quite an intense viewing experience. In it an expectant mother Sarah (Alysson Paradis, The Childhood of Icarus) has been involved in a horrific car accident that claimed the life of her husband Matthieu (Jean-Baptiste Tabourin). Now four months later she is left to prepare for her impending birth alone while grieving her unimaginable loss. It's Christmas Eve, and she is due to give birth the next day, her boss Jean Pierre (François-Régis Marchasson) has agreed to pick her up in the morning and drive her to the hospital to be induced, As she settles in for the night there's a knock at the door, a woman ass to use the phone. Feeling vulnerable and not wanting to open the door for a stranger at such a late hour she says she is sorry but her husband is sleeping and she does not wish to disturb him. At which the stranger (Béatrice Dalle, Night on Earth) reveals that she not only knows Sarah's name, but that she knows her husband is dead and that she is alone. The woman then appears at her window and punches the glass, fracturing it; frightened Sarah calls the police who arrive and have a look around, but find no one lurking nearby. 

Sarah settles down again and begins to fall asleep, unaware that the deranged stranger has made her way into the home. While Sarah slumbers the woman attacks her with the intention of cutting her baby out of her swollen stomach. What transpires is one of the most nerve-shredding home invasion slashers I have ever watched, so much so that this is easily a top 10 slasher for me. The set-up and premise are quite simple, an expectant mother versus a deranged woman who wants to cut the child from her womb - t
he potency of it comes from the exquisitely brutal execution, this is a very well-made and tautly directed bit of nasty business. 

The stranger stabs Sarah in the stomach with a pair of sewing shears and then cuts open her lips, Sarah manages to knock her off of her and take shelter in the locked bathroom, while the increasingly frenzied stranger attempts to get at her. While Sarah's locked away in the bathroom her mother (Nathalie Roussel) and boss Jean-Pierre arrive to check in on her and let's just say they don't fare so well against the deranged woman, and later when four armed cops arrive to check in on Sarah they too are brutally, dispatched with a gore-soaked malice that is sure to get  your pulse racing. 

The choice of weaponry is quite interesting as well, in this maiden versus matron battle the stranger and Sarah make use of scissors, knitting needles, hair sticks, vacuum wands, and cooking spray among other things, household items with a stereotypically feminine nature turned into killing tools, which I thought was an interesting touch. There's a lot of interesting subtext to what's happening here about motherhood and fear of pregnancy, but I will leave that sort of metaphorical exploration to the films scholars, I'm just a slasher fan here to tell you you can absolutely enjoy this for the brutal slasher flick it is without needing to understand all the sub-text, but it's there to chew on if you're the analytical sort. 

The film is shot by cinematographer Laurent Barès who also shot Frontier(s), it's a very attractively shot film with nice movement of the camera, moody lighting and gorgeously gruesome shot composition, and the electronic score from Eudes Chanfrault (High Tension) is quite unnerving as well, less a traditional score and more electronic thrum with short jabs of noise that accentuate the menace and tension. The two female leads are terrific, both turn in equally intense performances, one as a pregnant woman fighting for her and her unborn child's life and the other a deranged maniac who will stop at nothing to rip that unborn child from it's mother's womb.  

I really appreciated the lean 82-minute run time, I have always thought that the best slasher flicks are 90 minutes or less in length, and this is one heck of an efficient slasher, it's a lean and mean-spirited flick that doesn't waste time getting to the good stuff. The only part of it that did not quite work for me a bit were the occasional cuttaways to images of the unborn child in the womb, which I thought looked pretty terrible, the 2007 era CGI was not the best, but thankfully these are few and far between. That small niggle aside there's a lot here to love about it, not least of which are the gruesome practical effects work, the gore on display was so uncomfortable to watch, enhanced by the nature of our vulnerable protaganist and her unborn child. No one wants to see a pregnant woman put through the wringer, and this one goes places few films will dare take you, truly a nasty bit of business that you will walk away from traumatized.

Audio/Video: Inside (2007) arrives on region-B locked Blu-ray from Second Sight Films in 1080p HD framed in 1.78:1 widescreen. The digital shot film is both beautiful and gruesome, a digital shot gore-fest steeped in shadow and bathed in blood. This is quite an impressive upgrade over the Lionsgate DVD I've had for over a decade. Black while often digitally milky are superior, contrast is greatly improved with much better resolved shadow detail, which is important because this is a avery dark film. There are no source related issues, it looks immaculate, with close-ups offering plenty of detail and texture throughout. Colors are intentionally muted with a sickly yellow pallor to it, and once the blood starts to flow the groovy red stuff looks terrific. 

Audio comes by way of French DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround with optional English subtitles. The film largely takes place in the confines of a small house, the acoustics sound authentic, screams and groans are unsettling, and the percussive sounds of firearms are piercing. The electronic score by François-Eudes Chanfrault (High Tension) is minimalistic and quite chilling, and it sounds terrific. The previous U.S. DVD from Lionsgate had an English dub track which is not included here. 

This is another well-stocked edition from Second Sight Films, we get a new Audio Commentary by Anna Bogutskaya, plus another new Audio Commentary by Elena Lazic. Then onto the 31-min First Born: a new interview with co-writer/directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury: the 15-min Labour Pains: a new interview with actor Alysson Paradis; the 22-min A New Extreme: a new interview with producer Franck Ribière; 19-min Womb Raider: a new interview with cinematographer Laurent Barès, 14-min Reel Action: a new interview with stunt coordinator Emmanuel Lanzi, and a 15-min video essay The Birth of a Mother: Jenn Adams on InsideThe extras are fantastic, my favorites being the interview with actor Alysson Paradis who talks about how she got the gig, how much she enjoyed making the film, and her relationship with co-star Béatrice Dalle who she says despite looking tough was quite a sweetie; and the video essay from Jenn Adams is also quite wonderful, exploring the film and comparing it to her own traumatic pregnancy, it definitely added to my enjoyment of the flick and made me appreciate it on an even deeper subsurface 

The single-disc release arrives in a sturdy Rigid Slipcase with new artwork by artist James Neal, inside there's a black keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork featuring the same artwork. Also tucked away inside the slipbox is a with a 70-Page Illustrated Book with new essays Chad Collins, Kat Ellinger, Annie Rose Malamet and Hannah Strong, which also includes cast and crew info, plus Six Collectors' Art Cards featuring both James Neal artwork and images from the film. 

Special Features:

- New Audio Commentary by Anna Bogutskaya
- New Audio Commentary by Elena Lazic
- First Born: a new interview with co-writer/directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (31.27)
- Labour Pains: a new interview with actor Alysson Paradis (14:50) 
- A New Extreme: a new interview with producer Franck Ribière (22:01).
- Womb Raider: a new interview with cinematographer Laurent Barès (19:16) 
- Reel Action: a new interview with stunt coordinator Emmanuel Lanzi (14:33)
- The Birth of a Mother: Jenn Adams on Inside (14:46) 
Limited Edition Contents
- Rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal
- 70-page book with new essays by Chad Collins, Kat Ellinger, Annie Rose Malamet and Hannah Strong
- 6 collectors' art cards

Second Sight's Limited Edition Blu-ray release of Inside is quite a stunner, not only do we get a sorely needed A/V upgrade that looks and sounds terrific, but we get gorgeous limited edition packaging and some excellent in-depth extras that dig deep. With their recent releases of High Tension and Frontier(s) Second Sight have really shined a light on the flagship titles of the French extremity film movement of the 00's, if you love gory and brutal flicks these are a trio of must-own terror titles, and Inside is my favorite of the three.

Screenshots from the Second Sight Films Blu-ray: