Although it would take but a sentence or two to effectively summarize the entire plot of last night's selection, nothing I could write could prepare someone for what awaits them within À l'intérieur. With their very first offering, co-directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo have instantly entered the pantheon of horror's all-time best. The directing, the acting, the cinematography, and the editing of this film are all first rate. The visual effects are flawless; the sounds effects are nonpareil. Every aspect of À l'intérieur is artfully designed to terrify and and traumatize the audience, from the unsettling opening credits to the haunting final reel. The film is only 83 minutes long and not a second of it is wasted or extraneous. Barring the first ten, the entire thing takes place in a small suburban flat. The sense of entrapment is so palpable, and the bloodlettings so abrupt and dreadful, that I could not help but leak an anguished cry or bark an order at the heroine at each new peak in terror. This is simply not something that I do as a viewer. Ever. On more than one occasion, I literally had to stand up and retreat to the back of the room. My wife says she heard me moaning as well, though I cannot confirm. I was too entranced to notice.
The French have always been good at creating strong and memorable female characters, but the villainess in À l'intérieur is in a league of her own. Forget Leatherface. Forget Jason. Forget Michael Myers. They are all ineffectual pansies compared to the La Femme. What makes her so frightening is the credibility of her motive, and the relentless intensity that Béatrice Dalle brings to the role.
I still have nine films left to watch before I conclude this little survey of modern horror, but I am supremely confident that nothing yet made can top what I saw last night. Never, and I mean never, have I been so viscerally affected by a movie. In my opinion, À l'intérieur now stands at the vanguard of horror cinema, daring anyone to come take its crown.
One last note: although there are gorier films out there, for most people À l'intérieur will be the nastiest thing they have ever seen. Many women, particularly those who have given birth, will find it unwatchable. With that said, if you do decide to watch À l'intérieur, make sure you get the unrated edition. Anything less is a cop-out.
Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
My psychological status: