‘Inside’ Review: Babies Ruin Everything

‘Inside’ is no ‘Inside.’

I’ve said it before, and will most likely say it again, but when it comes to remakes there are two points worth repeating. First, they aren’t inherently bad simply because they’re remakes. There are numerous examples of great ones that sometimes even improve on the original. And second, that outcome should always be the filmmaker’s goal going into one. Ideally they should believe that some aspect of their film, one that’s hopefully home to something new, will improve upon or at least manage a similarly compelling experience. If none of that is true then why bother?

2007’s Inside is a gory shocker from France that delivers more than a few memorable set-pieces on its way to an equally brutal ending. A remake would hopefully deliver a similar degree of intensity and bloodletting while improving on the film’s most significant flaw — its incredibly stupid characters. It took a decade, but a new Inside has finally arrived.

You may be better off just re-watching the original.

Sarah (Rachel Nichols, P2) is pregnant, in love with her husband, and driving her family home in the rain. Only two of them will make it. A short time later the recently widowed Sarah is spending a lonely Christmas Eve night in the house she had hoped would be their family home, but now she plans on selling it after the impending birth of her child. A knock at the door reveals an uninvited guest, but while Sarah sends the adamant woman (Laura Harring, Mulholland Drive) away without opening the door the calm is short-lived. The stranger gets inside the house and soon makes it clear that what she wants — is inside Sarah.

Director Miguel Ángel Vivas is no stranger to dark, housebound thrillers as his 2010 film, Kidnapped, sees a family terrorized by home invaders, and he does good work capturing the action here in tight hallways and rooms. He takes several steps back from the French film’s gore sequences, and while the evening still gets fairly bloody it does so without feeling very memorable in that department. The intensity is more of a mixed bag as Sarah finds herself in numerous painful, cringe-worthy situations, but while they’ll work well enough for newcomers viewers who’ve seen the French film will note they’re beat for beat.

The film disappoints in its nearly identical progression — it only shifts gears in noticeable fashion in the final few minutes — and while it means we’re given pretty much the same exact story turns we’re also stuck with the same inane characters. Sarah calls the police and her neighbor, but while she mentions that a woman knocked and then left she fails to tell them the stranger also called her by name, referenced her dead husband, and insisted she be allowed in. Stuck in the bathroom by the maniacal woman, Sarah ignores the window (until a later plot point requires her to check it out). It even keeps one of my least favorite horror/thriller gags as our heroine prepares to finally fight back only to kill someone else instead. (I’m looking at you The Strangers.) The supporting characters are equally dense with each of them behaving so stupidly as to leave viewers indifferent to their demise.

It’s a bit surprising that a redo would hew so closely as to copy that stupidity, and it’s even more so when you realize the script here is co-written by Jaume Balagueró ([Rec], Sleep Tight). Beyond the mere annoyance of poorly written characters, though, their actions severely damage any hope the film has of suspense or tension beyond Sarah’s immediate predicament.

The film’s singular ace is Nichols who gives a solid performance throughout. She sells the emotional toll of it all while also convincing viewers on the physical front once things get violent. Harring fares less well, but rather than fault her performance it’s more likely a script issue as the character sees her menace decrease as the dialogue increases.

Inside opens with a statistic (authenticity unknown) meant to unnerve as it tells viewers that each year pregnant women are attacked and their babies stolen. It’s an unfortunate and unnecessary addition as while most viewers already suspect that’s the endgame here it lessens the impact once the stranger confirms it. Is it a minor point overall? Sure, but it speaks to the film’s choices as being consistently safe and lazy — and remake or not, those are never how you want to hear a horror/thriller described.

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