Christmas films are often associated with warmth, family, togetherness and a general infusion of the joys of the festive season, not horror. However, there are a number of horror films set at the festive season, a time when you would least expect the evils of the world to be on display. Therefore, this year the Alternative Christmas Film Advent Calendar, inspired by last year’s selection of Anna And The Apocalypse, takes aim at Christmas horror films.
The week of Christmas has arrived, the home stretch towards the day itself has arrived. And so behind today’s calendar is possibly one of the least festive films set during the Christmas period there is. One truly not for the faint of heart – and even those used to films that serve lashings of gore may find this particular feature difficult to stomach. Dare you venture Inside today’s door?
As already delved into as part of this year’s calendar Christmas is a time of celebration and welcoming – especially when it comes to the bloated man in red whose home intrusions are encouraged on an annual basis. However, Inside is far from this, and is certainly a jet dark – even darker than the almost black shade of crimson blood that lines many of the later shots – home invasion.
Alysson Paradis’ Sarah is hoping for a quiet, isolated Christmas. After losing her partner in a fatal car accident four months earlier she’s still grieving, while heavily pregnant with their now overdue child. Unfortunately the plans for a calm and almost ignored Christmas is shattered when a character simply called La femme (Béatrice Dalle) breaks into Sarah’s home in the middle of the night with the intent of stealing her baby. After waking up to her stomach attempted to be cut open the frightened protagonist finds herself fighting for not just her life but her unborn baby’s too as a merciless attacker attempts to slash through every door and obstacle in her way. All while Sarah desperately locks herself away in her bathroom, gasping for breath after the initial attacks.
More characters get involved, including Sarah’s publishing employer, Jean-Pierre (François-Régis Marchasson), and her mother (Nathalie Roussel), and yet La femme’s tirade refuses to stop. It simply gets increasingly bloody until the lens itself is drenched, capturing the relentlessly savage action with an extra sheet of red that simply adds to the brutality of the piece. All captured with lingering shots from writer-directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Shots which simply add to the long-lasting flinching pain the viewer feels throughout; as the situation becomes vastly more intense and worrying for Sarah, despite her resourcefulness and determination.
There is very little, if any at all, festive spirit within Inside. It’s a brutal slasher filled with intensity and scares for the scenario that the central character finds herself in. It could be said that her determination to survive, and keep her unborn child alive – especially at Christmas – show a want for peace at this time of year. The lack of joy and festivities oppose the standard feel of conventional Christmas films, but creates hope that there’s a way out of this, mother and child will survive and that, even if not properly celebrating, they will be safe when the day finally arrives.
Christmas might not play a huge part in Inside, it’s very much in the background. A tree appears in the side of the frame in a scene or two and Christmas Eve, on which the events occur, is only mentioned once or twice. Yet, thematically you can’t help but feel the impact of this slight detail on the unfolding horror. It adds to the tension, the fear, the deep cut of the violence and gore – this is the opposite of a scratch, and once again not for the faint hearted – and the overall theme of Sarah’s desperate battle for the survival of two. Definitely fitting in with this year’s horror theme this is certainly a very alternative Christmas film.
To find out where you can watch Inside it’s worth checking out JustWatch to see where you can buy, rent or stream the film in your country. Or, you might already own a physical copy of the film on DVD.