The remake of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s extreme French shocker Inside might be unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean director Miguel Ángel Vivas doesn’t still mine the very strong central concept – a home invasion thriller with a baby stealing villain – for some enjoyable moments. I’ll admit this now: I haven’t seen the original, so this may play differently to viewers who feel affectionately towards Bustillo and Maury’s film, but, even so, this version has the feel of a remake. There are countless moments that seem like references to, or even copies of, details from the French film, and even my brief research shows that so many of them are.
Rachel Nichols plays Sarah, a heavily pregnant woman who loses her partner in a car crash and is left to face motherhood alone. On Christmas Eve, days before her baby is due to be induced, a mysterious female stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on her door asking to use her phone. Suspicious, Sarah turns her away and calls the police, but it isn’t long until the woman finds her way into Sarah‘s home and comes after her unborn child. The central metaphor is clear: Sarah needs to come to terms with the negative voice in her head telling her she’ll be a bad mom (a dangerous energy that the stranger is feasting upon). That’s a compelling idea if I ever heard one.
The whole film rests on these two women and their performances serve the drama well. Harring is suitably sinister and the script gives her some effectively evil things to do. Most of the violence in the film is also messy and unpleasant. So, even if it’s a long way off the original, this translation hasn’t totally lost that bite. The film is also quite tightly structured, though that’s a whole lot easier when the story has already had such a successful first run.
Things do go off the rails in the final act, though, as Vivas drifts from Bustillo and Maury’s template and starts playing to Americanised re-tread clichés. The rousing score, the slow motion moment of transcendent survival: it’s all there and it comes across as a total parody that makes the pot-boiling, and occasionally silly, preceding hour seem entirely subtle in comparison. Why they chose to shoot themselves in the foot after holding back from the majority of clichés for so long is a total mystery.
These strange shifts may be a result of the film not being American through-and-through. The director and writers are Spanish, as are much of the crew and most of the production companies. This does mean that Inside, for its mediocrity, never reeks of the cynicism the Hollywood studios have so often been culpable of in their hunger for English-language remakes.