‘Tis may be the season for romantic comedies set in idyllic English cottages or whimsical tales of elves lost in New York, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more gory, we’ve got your back.
We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. Be prepared to be disturbed as we delve into the New French Extremism with a look at Inside.
We’ll start with a brief history lesson on French horror and specifically a movement called the French New Extremity. It’s hard to say when it specifically started but perhaps the first big film of the movement, defined by the use of brutal, graphic violence specifically, was 2003’s Haute Tension by Alexandre Aja.
There are plenty of examples of the movement, but Inside, a 2007 film by directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, is a particularly gruesome entry. The reason the film is included in our little series is because the violent events of the film take place on Christmas Eve.
Sarah (Alyssa Paradis) is heavily pregnant and a day away from her scheduled birth, but she’s also still mourning the loss of her husband a few months prior. It’s a bleak Christmas Eve for Sarah as she rejects her mother’s requests to stay with her and asks her boss to take her to the hospital the next day.
Sarah’s Christmas, already awful, takes a turn for the worse when an unknown woman begins stalking her. She eventually gains access to Sarah’s house and begins tormenting her, clearly wanting Sarah’s unborn child for herself.
Needless to say, violence ensues. Lots of it. There is a brutality to Inside which is only amplified by its setting at Christmas. Not only is there a disconnect between the season of jolliness and flashing lights and Sarah’s circumstances, Christmas is a difficult time for many who have lost loved ones.
There is very little Christmas spirit to be found in Inside. It’s a cruel film; the human body is mutilated, mangled and compromised in several ways, which include, but are not limited to, burning, stabbing and shooting. But if you’re willing and able to look past the bloodshed, Inside is ultimately a film about survival against the biggest of odds and what could be more merry than that?
New French Extremity has been called the cinema of the body because of its focus on the violence. It’s almost as if these films, which also include Martyrs and Trouble Every Day, attempt to make you feel sick, to get a physical reaction out of you. These films aren’t for the weak of heart or stomach, but there is fun to be had with them.
So why not challenge yourself this Christmas? Give Inside a whirl and try to make it through the film without covering your eyes or puking. Its ending is bittersweet and while we don’t want to spoil anything here, maybe there is a sprinkling of Christmas magic to be found in its gruesome final minutes.