Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Inside: Remaking the New French Extremity

Logically enough, a group of Spanish filmmakers has remade a New French Extremity horror film for an English-speaking audience. Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo’s L’Interieur is considered a prime example of the sub-genre, but the new film files down some of the extreme edges. It also removes the Frenchness and it cannot be particularly new, since the original released in 2007. Regardless, a pregnant widow will still be stalked by a mystery woman in Miguel Ángel Vivas’s Inside (trailer here), which opens this Friday in select theaters.

Sarah Clark and her unborn baby survived the crash, but her husband did not.  This already puts her in a vulnerable state. When you factor in her malfunctioning hearing aid, she ought to be a sitting duck for the would-be fetal abductor. However, Clark comes to from the chloroform just in time to barricade herself in the bathroom. Of course, she cannot hole up in there indefinitely. Plus, she would like to stop the mystery woman from killing the various people who come to check up on her, including some of the dumbest cops ever.

Fans of the original will be distressed to know Clark is no longer a photographer and she only uses a camera as a blunt object. One of the nastier twists remains intact, but this time around, it is more of a face-palm moment. In contrast, other aspects are strategically less dark. Yet, perhaps most problematic is the sheer uselessness of the Chicago PD, who you would expect to come in SWAT-style, guns blazing. The idea that a woman who could pass for Clark’s mother could rack up such a body count is hard to buy.

Nevertheless, it is still hard to avoid getting caught up in such an insidiously manipulative woman-in-jeopardy premise. As Clark, Rachel Nichols is convincingly pregnant and freaked out. Laura Harring is no Béatrice Dalle, but she is still quite fierce playing the super-driven villainess. For what its worth, Ben Temple has some surprisingly poignant moments as Isaac, one of Clark’s kindly gay neighbors, who makes the most of a rather thankless supporting function.

Cinematographer Josu Inchaustegui gives Inside the ominous look of high-end Spanish horror, but it is hard to believe a betwixt-and-between remake like this was co-written by [Rec]-franchise genre auteur Jaume Balagueró. Even though the Blumhouse remake got away with softening the most soul-deadening aspects of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs (a contention not everyone agrees with), it generally seems like a New French Extremity redo needs to either double-down on the extreme elements or totally reconceive them without the shock and gore. In the case of Inside, it is hard to see the point. Recommended for hardcore fans of Spanish horror (even when produced in English), Inside releases in theaters and on iTunes this Friday (1/12).