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This film is not recommended for anyone with a weak stomach or women with child. Otherwise, if you think you can handle it, sit down and prepare yourself for Inside (À l’intérieur).

“It’s only cinema. You can do everything on screen.” This was the filmmakers’ response when asked if there was anything they felt they could not do in the film, for reasons related to decency or morality. Writer/director Alexandre Bustillo and co-director Julien Maury take this statement to the limit in terms of violence, gore and unthinkable horror in this, their first film.

The opening act follows the very pregnant Sarah (Alysson Paradis) as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband in a car accident four months earlier; she is scheduled to give birth tomorrow, Christmas day. It’s a rainy night and a woman (Béatrice Dalle) knocks on Sarah’s door asking to use the telephone. When Sarah denies her, the stranger reveals she knows Sarah’s name and personal details about her life. Not long after, Sarah is locked in a maternal struggle with the scissor-wielding maniac who is after one thing, forcing Sarah to fight for the survival of herself and the life in her belly.

The director/writer team is friends and fans of another French duo, Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur, responsible for the blood-drenched Haute Tension. Logically, they have chosen to share the same editor (Baxter) and composer (François-Eudes Chanfrault), resulting in equally effective jackknife editing and a sonorous score.

There is currently a trend in American horror towards sadistic violence, such as that in Saw and Hostel; but Bustillo and Maury go beyond any of the brutal acts featured in these films, climaxing with a scene of extreme gore and resulting in what can only be a DVD release.

Paradis’ resolute fight to survive is stirring; while Dalle’s insane determination to achieve her goal is horrifying. Both women were required to endure a lot of physical exertion during filming and, according to the filmmakers, did so unreservedly. Dalle is a well-known actress in France and, therefore, shocked the duo with her immediate agreement to star. In Paradis, they were attracted to her “girl next door” quality.

Inside is a gut-wrenching exhibition of intensity and gore, propelled by strong performances from Dalle and Paradis. After seeing it, you will never look at a pair of cutting shears the same way again.

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