The New French Extremity movement and I do not see eye to eye it seems!
Story By: Alexandre Bustillo
Directed By: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
There comes a point when gore for the sake of gore fails to elicit much of a reaction from me. There also comes a point when a lack of any suspense, characters to care about, and a complete lack of originality leave me feeling like I was cheated. Thus describes my experience with a darling of the indie horror scene, À L’intérieur. Released in 2007, À L’intérieur is a poster child for the New French Extremity movement in European horror. It’s also a poster child for why I am generally not a fan of the films that most people would associate with the New French Extremity movement.
Horror can be many things, Odin knows I have stressed this point many times over. Be that as it may, I need something to latch onto in a given horror film. If it’s a comedy the comedy needs to be funny. If the horror on display is suspense driven then I need to feel the suspense. If the film is about what is behind the next corner then I need to feel the overriding tension in the film. À L’intérieur is a horror film that wants to be suspenseful, gory, violent, and artistic. There’s no reason that the film cannot be all of those things and in turn be a great film.
Sadly, that is not the case with À L’intérieur. There is no suspense to be found at any moment during the film. Instead there is a decided lack of originality and a healthy dose of predictability. When the parental figures show up to the house one need not think long over what their fate will be. As soon as a house cat strolls across the screen it’s obvious how that animal will be used to drive home the idea of a character being evil. In essence, because of how predictable it is À L’intérieur betrays any leanings it has towards being suspenseful. I’m not a genius by any means, but there was never a moment during À L’intérieur when I felt like I didn’t know what was coming next and the film didn’t then prove me right.
The gore and the violence found within À L’intérieur is well done and well orchestrated. The gore effects are gooey, sick, and disgusting in the best of ways. But, what does that matter when they are in service of a predicable story without any compelling characters? The easy answer, and the one that applies in this case, is that it doesn’t matter how good the gore or the violence is because I lost interest very quickly in gore and violence that was only being done for the sake of gore and violence being done.
The artistic moments of À L’intérieur are, quite honestly, when the film falters the most. There is one scene in particular where the character of The Woman is shown leaning against a wall with a cigarette in her mouth. It is at this moment that the directors, Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, choose to play tricks with the camera. They insert violent cut flashes, chop up the sequence so that it plays like she is a maniac and we are getting to see how maniacal she is. The problem with that approach is that we already know how crazy she is, there’s no need to pile on to what we already know with a sequence that comes across like a couple of kids just out of film school letting loose with every technique they think is flashy. Any time that À L’intérieur tries to be artistic, the end result is the same, an empty and hollow moment that adds nothing to the film.
I get that a lot of horror buffs love À L’intérieur, but I think it’s a pretty terrible film. It’s saved from being a complete waste by the technical quality of its gore. The gore, however, is the only saving grace of the film and that’s not enough for a horror film to hang its hat on. Where most people felt exhilarated by À L’intérieur I felt bored and let down. By the time a very stupid supernatural scene wedged its way into the film I had already checked out and knew that I was not watching a quality horror movie. Don’t believe the hype when it comes to À L’intérieur, it’s not some great underseen horror masterpiece. À L’intérieur is an empty film, one that is all flash and no bang, and I simply can’t settle for flash in this case.