Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jaded horror fan forced to turn off DVD

Inside (2007)
director: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
cast: Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis

I'm not a fan of the current so-called 'torture-porn' films. I've never seen Hostel or its sequel. That sort of thing just doesn't appeal to me in the least. That being said, I did enjoy French director Alexandre Aja's High Tension, as well as his remake of The Hills Have Eyes. High Tension's initial killing spree, which seems to stretch on for like a half hour had my ex-wife and I literally breathless on the edge of the futon.

Well now the French have come up with this new film, which is quickly garnering a reputation for its harrowing brutality and gore. As you can see from the cover, I questioned whether or not this was something I needed to see, but as it has been repeatedly compared to Aja's work, I had to check it out. Sometimes, you just get the urge to be pummeled by a full on assault to the senses.

My Netflix envelope appeared almost instantaneously. As the opening credits rolled over what appeared to be a wash of afterbirth, I had only myself to blame.

Essentially, the movie focuses on a pregnant woman being terrorized by a mysterious female assailant who breaks into her house just as she is about to go into labor. Various people show up to the house and are killed off. This is a film that cannot really be laughed at, as most slasher flicks can. People do not behave in grossly unbelievable ways. People do not wander into dark hallways exclaiming, "Is anybody there?" No one goes skinny-dipping. In fact, the heroine calls the police straight away, and they come to the house to investigate. How many times do you see that common sense plot element? Not so often.

Watching a man on a staircase get stabbed with a pair of scissors about thirty times did not phase me, even as the shears repeatedly jammed into the groin area of his trousers, accompanied by crunching noises. Blood sprayed and squirted. The effects look quite good, and suitably sickening.

Shortly afterwards, the terrorized woman has locked herself into a bathroom, with the crazed lady waiting outside the door, sitting on the carpet. The pregnant woman's cat comes purring up the steps, presumably avoiding the pools of blood everywhere. The cat jumps into the killer's lap and begins rubbing against her. The killer holds up the cat, looks from the cat to the locked bathroom door and then smiles.

That's when I turned it off.
I thought to myself, "This movie WILL go there and I don't wanna see that."

Afterwards, I imprisoned the DVD securely back in the Netflix mailing sleeve, and searched the house until I found Ichi sleeping peacefully in the laundry basket, her tail twitching listlessly. I poked around the reviews on Sure enough, the mostly 5-star opinions do mention the disemboweling of a cat amongst Inside's grotesque attractions.

Everyone has a line I suppose, and animal cruelty is over that line for me. A dog is killed off-camera in the aforementioned Hills Have Eyes, but something in my guts forewarned me that Inside would relish in the senseless butchering of that kitty. I imagine that woman in the bathroom is subjected to the drawn out sounds of the cat screaming from beyond the bathroom door. She would be powerless to stop it from happening. Reaching out to stroke the STOP button, I, however, was not powerless.

Animal cruelty and rape. Those are my lines. In my humble opinion, no movie has ever benefited from graphic depictions of either. For this very reason, I freely admit I have also never seen such genre staples as Last House on the Left or Cannibal Holocaust. If that makes me less of a horror fan, than so be it.

It is a shame too; now I will never get to see the remaining untold acts of violence Inside could have provided me.

UPDATE - My friend let me borrow the DVD and I did return to finish this film. I simply skipped the offending kitty death with ye ole TRACK FORWARD button.

To be honest, I felt like the film got increasingly silly as it went on. I hereby retract my previous statement about people not 'behaving in grossly unbelievable ways.' Why are the responding police officers so concerned with restoring the power -- just get out of the house!!! There were numerous points where I felt like our heroine could have escaped, and I found myself rolling my eyes by the time the disgusting ending arrived.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I'm kind of sick and tired of directors using some poor animal to score cheap horror points. Especially when its quite obvious from the beginning that poor fido or kitty is going to get offed.
And its just not movies, but books are just as bad. I just finished a book (the first in the series) that has a dog killed and its corpse mutilated. In an excerpt from the next book in the series a cat is thrown into a boiling pot of water. The only constellation is that nether were very graphic, but I won't be reading any more books in this series, thank you very much.

David Lee said...

It's fascinating to me where people's limits are. I figure if I'm going to watch a movie in which people are butchered onscreen and if a cat or dog or bunny gets cuisinarted in the process then I'll watch that too. As long as no actual animal got killed then I've got no problem with it. (And I love my cat.)

That said, I prefer to avoid gore movies featuring psychos. It's not the gore, it's the psycho. Bloodthirsty werewolves, ghost and other critters ripping people (and kitties and puppies and bunnies) apart are entertainment. A crazy human doing the same thing is just no fun.

Gangrene Widescreen said...

I agree completely. Supernatural elements are much more interesting, and much less depressing, than serial killer movies.

Anonymous said...

You haven't missed much anyway, thoroughly unpleasant movie and the fact that it's exceptionally well made only makes it that much worse.

Anonymous said...

There's no cat disemboweling in "Inside"! Whoever said that must have been on crack or pcp wen they watched the movie. This is what happens: crazy lady begins stroking the cat, seemingly lovingly, & the look on her face says "hey pretty kitty, what are you doing here?", &"hey kitty, you are going to die!!!" Then suddenly, pregnant lady says something from the bathroom that snaps crazy lady back into the present moment, & she appears to either crush the cat's head or break it's neck. It'd difficult to tell, because it's mostly offscreen & there's no blood or gore.

Now, I'm not one for animal cruelty either (I always choose to watch the "animal cruelty-free" version of Cannibal Holocaust), but compared the rest of "Inside", the death of the cat is extremely tame.

You definetly should give this film another shot & watch it all the way to the end.