INSIDE. (2007) A GORY FRENCH EXTREMITY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

inside bathroom

INSIDE. (2007) A FILM BY JULIEN MAURY AND ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO. STARRING BEATRICE DALLE AND ALYSSON PARADIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Ralph: Do you like French cinema at all, Ted?

Ted: I wouldn’t know about that now, surr.

Ted and Ralph, The Fast Show.

This is a very pointy, stabby film in the genre known as ‘French extremity.’ Well, it’s both these things all right, French and extreme, and I don’t mind telling you right away that it’s much too extreme for me. It’s nothing but stabbing and blood, blood, blood. I don’t mind a bit of blood but this film is all blood. And stabbing. With big sharp scissors mostly, but also with anything that you can make a pointy shiv out of and stab with.

‘Extreme’ in this case just seems to mean lashings, and I do mean lashings, of body horror, gore, blood and, occasionally, guts. It’s the most blood-soaked film I think I’ve ever watched, and I once watched a film on giving birth in my pre-natal classes. Put me right off giving birth, it did, but by that stage it was too late to reverse the process that was already well under way in my uterus.

I like a nice psychological or supernatural horror, for example, where a family moves into a lovely new house and then they find out they’re sharing it with the Amityville Horror. Stuff like that, or where a woman is pregnant but then she discovers that she was unknowingly raped by Satan on a night out where she can’t remember a smidgeon of what happened, and the baby she’s carrying is actually slated to be the next Anti-Christ, stuff like that. That’s what I like.

Some of my favourite horror films, like BURNT OFFERINGS or THE CHANGELING, both about haunted houses, don’t have any blood in them at all and no-one gets stabbed. That’s what I prefer. I think what happened with INSIDE is that the film-makers decided that they were going to make the film as ‘extreme’ as they could to garner good reviews and plenty of attention, but the only way they could think to do that was to put a ton of blood and gore in it. Gore to me equals bore.

This home invasion film actually did get a load of positive reviews, probably from people who thought, oh wow, there’s so much blood and stabbing in this film that it must be great! Hmmm. I’m not saying the film isn’t well-written and executed (no pun intended), in fact it’s extremely well-scripted and acted, but I still didn’t like it because of all the gratuitous stabby, shooty killings.

Here’s the plot, anyway. A sulky, mopey French photographer woman called Sarah is due to give birth and, on Christmas Eve of all nights, her home is invaded by a mysterious madwoman about whom we know nothing, except that she’s beautiful in an odd, off-kilter way, she’s come impractically dressed for stabbing in an over-long black, trippy-uppy dress and her weapon of choice is a big scary pair of scissors.

She’s come, not so much for Sarah, but for the package Sarah is due to deliver any time now… the baby. The home becomes a place of terror (and the film’s title takes on a sinister double meaning) as this un-named madwoman rampages through the house trying to catch a petrified Sarah who, mopey or not, is not about to give up her bambino without one hell of a fight. That’s the maternal instinct right there, fighting for survival.

The cops come (all big, burly and extremely attractive), and a random criminal called Abdul, who all have to be dealt with by the mysterious crazy lady. The bodies pile up and the blood flows freely as Sarah’s baby, of whom we’re given distressing little 3-D snapshots from time to time, comes ever closer to being born.

Sarah, incidentally, if you like a little bit of showbiz gossip, is played by the younger sister of Vanessa Paradis, the French actress and one-time child pop star (Remember Joe Le Taxi?) who has two children by her ex-partner Johnny Depp. These are all very, very good-looking people we’re talking about here. Showbiz good-looking, I mean, not just regular good-looking. We peasants are not fit to grace their radars, even as temporary blips. Remember that, peasants. Lol. 

It’s a really good plot, the plot of INSIDE, well acted and everything, but the amount of gore in the film means that it’s just not for me, not my cup of tea. Each to their own, though. Someone else might love it, depending on their tolerance for blood and stabbings. Check it out, anyway, see what you think. Me, personally, I won’t be going anywhere near this one again. Did I mention it has way too much blood…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

BLOW. (2001) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

blow mirtha mugshot

BLOW. (2001) DIRECTED BY TED DEMME. BASED ON THE 1993 BOOK BY BRUCE PORTER: BLOW: HOW A SMALL-TOWN BOY MADE $100 MILLION WITH THE MEDELLIN COCAINE CARTEL AND LOST IT ALL.

STARRING JOHNNY DEPP, PENELOPE CRUZ, FRANKA POTENTE, ETHAN SUPLEE, PAUL REUBENS, JORDI MOLLA, CLIFF CURTIS, BOBCAT GOLDTHWAITE, LOLA GLAUDINI, RACHEL GRIFFITHS AND RAY LIOTTA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This portrayal of drug-taking and drug-dealing is nearly as sexy and glamorous as that achieved by Brian De Palma’s SCARFACE (1983). The format and narrative voice-overs are reminiscent of GOODFELLAS, and that movie’s lead actor, Ray Liotta, is here in person, not as the criminal this time but as the criminal’s Dad.

Now Ray Liotta himself is playing the over-worked ’50s/60s Pops who’s trying- and failing- to inculcate a certain values system, his own, into his son, but his son doesn’t even want to know.

All the son sees is the lure and glamour of easy money, not caring a jot that when you live by the sword, you’re frequently called upon to die by it too. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? You’ll love this film, if you don’t already.

Johnny Depp plays real-life drug-dealer George Jung who, in the ’60s, grew up and moved from his home city of Boston, Massachusetts, to the beaches of California. Here he met and married his first beautiful wife Barbara and, together with his best mate from childhood, the rather fishily-nicknamed Tuna, became the go-to person on the beaches from whom to buy your pot. Marijuana. Mary-Jane. Weed. Grass. Whatever.

Greed seems to be George’s main problem. He goes into the weed business initially with a friend of Barbara’s called Derek Foreal, a fantastically camp, bitchy hairdresser who’s a hard-headed businessman underneath all the kitsch.

When George proves to have a really prodigious talent for selling drugs, however, the temptation to become the world’s premiere importer of Colombian cocaine is too hard to resist. He meets Pablo Escobar, the Cocaine King, and goes into business with him and everything, with an introduction from George’s mate Diego Delgado, with whom he’s done some time in prison.

Prison, by the way, seems to be just some kind of crime school for guys like George. He admits himself that he went into prison with a Diploma in weed and came out with a PHD in cocaine. So much for rehabilitation, anyway.

The Colombian drug business is a freakin’ terrifying one. Life is cheap in Colombia, we’re told, and we see a man being murdered literally the instant the tall, moustached and outwardly charming Pablo Escobar hoves into sight. Yes, I admit, I was a little attracted to him here…!

The scene where George meets Pablo and works out a system of drug deals with him is like the scene in SCARFACE where Tony Montana does the same with Bolivian cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa. In SCARFACE during this scene, F. Murray Abraham as Omar Suarez meets a horrible death at the hands of Sosa’s henchmen. You do not fuck with these guys. Ever.

Things get really sexy and glamorous when George meets Mirtha, played by the most beautiful actress in the world today, Penelope Cruz. She was unbelievably gorgeous with Tom Cruise in VANILLA SKY.

Here, she plays the stunning fiancée of one of the drug-dealers George does business with. If it weren’t for the fact that George enjoys the dubious protection of Pablo Escobar himself, this guy would have gutted George like a fish for stealing his ho.

George and Mirtha have a tempestuous relationship. Mirtha is a bit like Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elvira Hancock character in SCARFACE. Beautiful, stick-thin, addicted to drink and drugs, empty inside but desperately trying to fill that void with glamour, danger and endless excitement. They have a daughter together, Kristina Sunshine Jung, who’s the light of George’s life but, while he’s still dealing drugs, he’s only going to keep on letting her down.

When his friends Diego and Derek Foreal cut a separate drug deal together that leaves George with only the shaft, George decides to get out of the drugs business forever. Is it that simple? Can it be done? Or will the promise of just one more big deal lure him back in the game? Mirtha is not a cheap wife to keep, and she and Kristina are George’s responsibility.

When his millions of dollars accumulated from all the drug deals he’s made are literally stolen by the Panamanian government, George becomes desperate for cash. Should he pull off one last job? He owes Mirtha child support and alimony, and she’s making noises about keeping Kristina away from him unless he coughs up pronto. One more quick drug deal should do the trick. Shouldn’t it…?

Rachel Griffiths is great here as George’s awful Mum. She’s obsessed with money and the price of everything, and she’s mortified that her only son is a drug dealer for a living. ‘What are you looking at, Mrs. Gracie? Your son’s no prize!’

Ray Liotta as George’s Dad, however, loves his only son to bits and is prepared to maintain contact with him despite what George does for a living. The relationship between George and his Dad and between George and his daughter are the two bright spots in George’s life.

I always feel really, really sorry for George at the end of the film because it’s Johnny Depp in a padded-out shirt to give him a paunch, but I need to remind myself that George got himself into that pitiful position by selling drugs.

Drugs. The drugs that would have been ruining hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of peoples’ lives while George got richer and richer off the back of it. Everything that happened to him, he seems to have brought it on himself.

But oh my God, it’s a long-haired Johnny Depp in a padded-out shirt! Can’t I please just cut him a teensy-weensy break here…? Lol. It’s hard to feel contempt or disgust for anyone who’s played by the divine Johnny Depp.

The film has a fantastic ‘Seventies soundtrack. The songs they’ve chosen are perfect for montages, whether it be the taking drugs montages or the getting-rich-quick montages. While watching the film for the first time back in about 2003, I had a kind of personal epiphany during Manfred Mann’s ‘Blinded By The Light’ and decided to actively turn my life around after a bad break-up.

That’s a really clear example of a song’s power to change someone’s life for the better. Well, it was mostly for the better. I kissed an awful lotta frogs during this period but it eventually led me to something wonderful so I can’t complain.

God, why are films about drug-dealers always so goddamned sexy? They glamorise drug-taking and drug-dealing and make you envy the lifestyle, the houses, the cars, the private planes and the sunshine islands, the sexy consorts, the perks, the prizes, the rich pickings.

It’s all built on sand, though, and can collapse at any minute. It’s a house of sand and fog, lol. Please remember that when you sell your first bag of weed to a dopey stoned teenager. Now, preaching time is over. Watch this film. You’ll love it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor