Director – Miguel Angel Vivas, Screenplay – Jaume Balaguero, Manu Diez & Miguel Angel Vivas, Based on the 2007 Film Written by Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, Producers – Adrian Guerra & Nuria Valls, Photography – Jose Inchaustegui, Music – Victor Reyes, Visual Effects Supervisor – Alex Villegrasa, Special Effects Supervisor – Lluis Rivera Jove, Production Design – Didac Bono. Production Company – Nostromo Pictures/Inside Produccione AIE/Embankment Films/Instituo de la Cinematografica y Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA)/Department de Cultura de la Generalitat de Catalunya/Natixis Coficine/Crea SGR.
Rachel Nichols (Sarah Clark), Laura Harring (Madeleine), Ben Temple (Isaac), Gillian Apter (Sarah’s Mother), Andrea Tivadar (Police Woman), Craig Stevenson (Police Officer 3)
Sarah Clark is recovering from a car crash that killed her husband Matt. She is pregnant and due to give birth any day. She turns away a woman who comes to the door asking to use the phone. Later the woman enters the house where she drugs Sarah and then prepares to operate on her while she sleeps. Coming around, Sarah barricades herself in the bathroom as the woman determines to batter her way in, saying that she wants Sarah’s baby. As Sarah tries to escape and get help, the woman kills all who come to her aid.
Inside (2007) was a directorial debut for the French duo of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. The film become one of the most notorious among the mid-2000s fad for what was called French Extremism – a series of films that pushed the envelope in terms of on-screen gore and torture, which also included the likes of High Tension (2003), Sheitan (2006), Frontier(s) (2007) and Martyrs (2008). The scenes of Beatrice Dalle invading Alysson Paradis’ home and trying to cut the unborn child from her pregnant stomach with a pair of scissors makes for fairly brutal watching.
This is an English language remake of Inside where the roles have been cast with Rachel Nichols as the pregnant mother and Laura Harring as the mystery woman known only as ‘La Femme’ in the original but named Madeleine here. In actuality, the film is a Spanish production and was shot in Spain. The rights to Inside were brought up by Jaume Balaguero, co-director of [Rec] (2007), who was intending to direct himself but only retains a co-writing and executive producer credit on the finished film. The actual directing duties have been taken up by Spanish director Miguel Angel Vivas who had previously made the violent home invasion film Kidnapped (2010) and the horror film Extinction (2015).
English language remakes of Japanese horror films are legion – in particular with a spate of remakes of Asian horror films like The Ring (2002), The Grudge (2004) et al (see the English Language Remakes theme section below for a full listing). However, attempts to adapt the French Extremism to English language met a complete disaster when Martyrs, the finest work the French cycle produced, underwent remake as the truly awful Martyrs (2015), which rewrote the original’s grimness with a happy ending. One had similar expectations of Inside, especially in that the film premiered at the Sitges festival in 2016, took a full year before being seen by Spanish audiences and then another year, two years after it premiered, to be released to its intended English-language audience.
The good news is that Inside doesn’t end up in the same boat as the Martyrs remake. There have been some changes conducted but mostly ones that give Bustillo and Maury’s slim narrative more weight – the friend who comes to the door is a gay neighbour rather than the pregnant woman’ co-worker (while his boyfriend across the street also gets killed as Rachel Nichols tries to alert him). The remake follows the original on most of its beats for about two-thirds of the film – the pregnant wife surviving the car accident, the mystery women entering at night trying to get the baby, the mother barricaded in the bathroom, various people coming to the door and being killed, the accidental stabbing of the mother, the cops entering the house and being killed, as well as the end revelation of the mystery woman’s identity.
Miguel Angel Vivas generates a reasonable level of intensity with the scenes of Rachel Nichols at siege in the bathroom and being pursued around the house. All of which work reasonably well so long as one doesn’t compare them to the original. When you do they tend to pale somewhat. Being made for the American mainstream, this version tends to hold back on the level of gore and brutality. What is noticeable is that in this version Laura Harring attempts to remove the baby by standard surgical methods rather than employ the pair of scissors that Beatrice Dalle far more nastily wielded in the original.
The watering down of the original becomes particularly noticeable at the climax. The original had a jaw-dropping finale in which Alysson Paradis was hit by one of the cops, forcing her to go into labour – only for the baby to become stuck halfway and Beatrice Dalle then trying to cut it out with her scissors. It was one of the most harrowing finales I had seen in a genre film in some time. Here this has been eliminated and we get a far more watered down climax with the two women fighting (as they do in the original) but the fight far more tamely happening around a half-built house across the street and then on top of the cover of a swimming pool where [PLOT SPOILERS] Rachel Nichols eventually gives birth safely without any issue after having allowed Laura Harring to drown in the pool.
One also takes issue with the film’s sensationalised opening statement about fetal abduction (an unnecessary touch that tends to give away what is about to happen). The intro also offers the entirely made-up claim that there are 300 cases of fetal abduction per year in the USA. In fact (according to Wikipedia), the total number of fetal abduction cases has been a mere eighteen between 1983 and 2015 and the so-called figure of 300 per year is rather more modestly a total of only 302 cases of infants being abducted in the entire thirty year period studied.