DVD Review: The Inside (2012)
Review by Nia Edwards-Behi
Warning – Spoilers. All the spoilers. (But that shouldn’t matter as you really shouldn’t bother watching this film.)
Were it not for the fact that I was reviewing The Inside, I would not have watched it to the end. Quite where to start with this offensive joke of a film is almost beyond me: maybe a plot summary? I could regurgitate the plot blurb provided by the distributor, but then I’d feel somewhat complicit in their false advertising that this film has something important to say. I could launch straight into the various rants I intend on having in relation to this monstrosity. I could save us all a lot of hassle and just leave this entire review at one paragraph: the word NO written in a large font and underlined.
No such luck. I’ll start with an actual summary of the film. A man in Ireland swaps a ring for €50 and a camcorder at a pawn shop. He sits in a café and watches the footage on the camera. On it five girls are going out for one’s 21st birthday (they’re not ‘teenagers’, as the official blurb would have you think). As a gift, the friends have bought the birthday girl (no, I can’t remember her name) the camera, with which they’re going to record the evening’s events. The girls break into some sort of abandoned warehouse, as you do, where they meet up with the birthday girl’s boyfriend for some drinking and debauchery. Turns out they’re all horrible people, when suddenly some even more horrible people show up and assault them all. Just as you start to think, ‘I might switch this off,’ some demonic nonsense happens. Then some running around happens, and occasionally a bloody, naked man – sorry, a demon – kills someone. Then, 20 minutes before the film ends, the plot actually starts, with the man who bought the camera finding his way to this warehouse to inexplicably go have a look for himself. The same demonic nonsense happens, then the film ends, with everyone dead, and I was left wondering whether I could possibly please have the last 90 minutes of my life back. Ladies and gentleman, this film neatly packages almost everything that’s wrong with modern horror filmmaking. It’s lazy, nonsensical, misogynistic, classist and a monumental waste of time.
The film’s laziness is perhaps best demonstrated in its style, or lack thereof. For a film that is mostly ‘found footage’ (audible groan) filmed on a cheap-looking camcorder, no effort has been made to make said footage look like it’s been filmed on an older camera, the sound design doesn’t correspond, and the inconsistent use of non-diegetic music is particularly jarring. The actors aren’t given much to do other than run around, scream, and breathe heavily, so it almost seems unfair to try to judge their performances; the promising talents of the likes of Tereza Srbova utterly wasted. (As an aside, I’m wary of any publicity that lists Srbova as a ‘Czech starlet’ before listing the rest of the cast as ‘acting talent’. Have some damn respect.)
Perhaps the greatest indicator of the film’s laziness comes in the form of some on-screen statistics about missing persons at the start of the film… only one of which is an Irish statistic, the others being statistics for the USA and Canada. It might just be me that finds this lazy and impertinent, but surely foregoing the statistics entirely would make more sense than just using whatever statistics most easily came to hand. In laziness comes a lack of any, well, sense in the film’s narrative and characterisation. Not one of the characters in this film is afforded any indication of motivation, which combined with the utterly nonsensical framing device – which turns out to be the actual narrative – ensures zero possibility for engagement with the film. Why on earth is this man watching the horrible events that unfold in a café? Why does he go to the warehouse himself? The ending seems to want to be some sort of ‘shock’, with a quick one-two of deaths, but having made no attempt at making us care for these characters the only thing I cared about at the film’s close was that it was finally over.
All that said, the worst thing about this film is the wilful misogyny of its earliest sequences, shoehorned into what is already an appalling attempt at supernatural horror. The justification seems to be, according to the blurb, in the apparent desire to contrast human evil with supernatural evil, or something, but this is not remotely evident in the film itself. Instead, we’re presented with a lengthy sequence of sexual assault that’s almost unwatchable. For fifteen minutes these unlikeable girls are knocked around and assaulted by their even more unpleasant assailants.
The film has gone to great lengths, by the point this sequence begins, to establish this group of friends as thoroughly unlikeable. The girls have stabbed each other’s backs, bitched about each other, ruined a birthday celebration and generally screeched and whined their way through the start of the film (twenty minutes worth of bitching and back-stabbing, I might add). If that’s not bad enough, an entirely narratively superfluous sequence of one of the girls having sex with the birthday girl’s boyfriend is provided, for good measure, just before the group is attacked. The film then seems to mistake ‘waiting for girls to get raped’ for genuine narrative tension. The men who attack them have no motivation, no charm, no wit, no metaphorical meaning, no cypherable function, NOTHING. If anything, they might be dealt a worse representation than the poor girls they assault. As though the misogyny on display wasn’t enough, the film throws at us the thoroughly classist example of impoverished men who have nothing better to do than be unpleasant to each other and rape women. How do we know they’re poor? Well, gosh, don’t expect any back story or attempts at characterisation; instead, look to their dirty, ripped clothing, and the fact that they apparently live or lurk in an abandoned warehouse.
But hey, this is me, so let’s get right back to the misogyny. Not only is the 15-odd minute sequence nothing but a cycle of ‘shout-manhandle-cry-threaten-shout-manhandle-cry-threaten’ with no variation, imagination or motivation in its execution, when the final assault takes place, guess which girl is placed literally front and centre as she is raped? That’s right! The one who earlier had sex with her friend’s boyfriend! In that scene that has no narrative function! And then we get to see her raped right up close! Are the filmmakers suggesting that this is appropriate punishment for her apparent transgression? I certainly can’t think of any other way of reading the scene, which to me demonstrates the worst sort of slut-shaming, that was at least handled with some subtlety and humour in 80s slashers, and should’ve been long-left in that decade.
This is the film’s worst transgression, really, overlooking the fact that this group of six make no effort to remotely defend themselves against their three squabbling attackers, and ignoring the fact that random-camcorder-man briefly *rescues* one of the girls just before the film’s close. Random, no-motivation man rescues hasn’t-tried-to-defend-herself-previously girl. Luckily, the bad taste left in my mouth by that is soon overtaken by the hilarity of the film’s end – hasn’t-tried-to-defend-herself-previously girl finally decides to defend herself, and knocks no-motivation man over the head with a stone, and leaves him to the naked demon. In a final ‘shock’ (oh, please), the girl escapes and then gets hit by a car. How I laughed. I have no shame in revealing the ending of this film, given as there is zero tension up to this point, and knowing how the ending plays out won’t spoil a single damn thing.
The Inside does nothing more than establish some horrible characters to be killed by some standard boogeyman, with no imagination, flair or talent in its repetitive execution. It doesn’t really feel like I needed to have bothered to watch the film, after all, as I could have made up a review out of non-specific diatribes about things that suck about modern horror films and it would’ve served exactly the same damn purpose. There is quite literally nothing, not one tiny iota of a thing that makes me want to recommend this film. It’s unpleasant and boring, the worst of the worst, and you’d have a better time watching a brick wall for 90 minutes.
Now you’re all gagging to see it, The Inside is available on Region 2 DVD now from Monster Pictures.