40th Sitges - A Blood Soaked Interview with the Inside (À l'intérieur) Directors

From Sam Raimi, F.W. Murnau, Sergio Martino, Clive Barker, John Carpenter, George A. Romero and on, filmmakers have long been exploring and giving audiences a taste and glimpses of hell. With only their debut feature directing team Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury have opened up the gates of horror cinema to new deeply dark and bloody realms of hell and pulsating terror. Rarely in film has maternal hell and girl on girl fighting been shown this brutal, this primal and unrelenting.

Inside will be released on French DVD on February 28, 2008. A soundtrack CD with composers François-Eudes Chanfrault (more info) work should accompany this release (source: Aphanisis). The US release of the film should be arrive in the form of a DVD release sometime in 2008 via the Weinstein Company.

At the recent 40th Sitges Film Festival I had the chance to sit down and chat with this debut directing team on Inside. Now onto the interview... >

When I originally saw Inside it was at Fantastic Fest in a row filled with jaded moviegoers that included Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse), Marc Walkow (Outcast Cinema), Matthew Kiernan (Fangoria), Harry Knowles (AICN), Peter Martin (Twitch) and Harvey Fenton (Fab Press). Throughout the course of the film our collective row gasped, squirmed and were more than startled. If we are any indication of how the masses will react, then general public is going to be in for one hell of an electrifying terror ride they won't ever forget. As Todd Brown proclaimed for this film, "Believe the hype on this one."

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THE BLOODY INSIDE INTERVIEW BEGINS!!!

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: You’re from Texas?

BLAKE: Yes.

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: I got a Texas Style t-shirt with Leatherface on it yesterday. Have you seen it?

BLAKE: Yeah and I plan to go back and buy it. The one I bought was a Blow-Up t-shirt with David Hemmings.

JULIEN MAURY: My ex-girlfriend is from Austin, Texas. She was hot!

BLAKE: Well your film just screened at Fantastic Fest last week and it was a huge hit with Austin audiences, so maybe… (Laughs)

JULIEN MAURY: (Laughs)… So maybe she saw it, though I don’t have any news from her.

BLAKE: I love how with the character of La Femme (Béatrice Dalle) she is hidden in heavy blacks to a degree that I was always scanning the scene to see if I could spot her. She was cleverly hidden in some scenes with the heavy blacks and in others, I thought I saw her but couldn’t quite tell. So many horror films these days are so ridiculously and completely over lit, so I found it refreshing you didn’t take this approach with this film.

JULIEN MAURY: Thank you. It was very important to give this ghost aspect to Le Femme. From the beginning we worked with our DP Laurent Barès. We told him we need some dark corners on the frames and dark places, but really dark – black, where you can see nothing. We wanted the audience to have the impression that she could be wherever there was darkness. I think it worked because of one of our favorite sequences is behind the couch when Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is falling asleep with the television on. La Femme is behind her coming at her floating like a ghost, coming closer and closer and then Sarah [suddenly] wakes up and she disappears back into the darkness. This sequence is the expression of what we wanted for this character. She is like a ghost [who can be] everywhere and so the danger can then be anywhere.

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: It’s like in Halloween for us too. We are big fans of this John Carpenter movie. In this moment of the movie Julien described, Beatrice is like Michael Myers in that she is only a shape, no body and just a white face. This was a little homage to Carpenter’s Halloween.

BLAKE: Talk about the construction of Béatrice’s character. She has such a unique look accentuated with her Victorian dress and seemingly well thought out physical performance.

JULIEN MAURY: In pre-production we came in with pictures of Pinhead, the main character of Hellraiser. He’s dressed like a priest with a black robe. That is exactly what we wanted for her, to be a mix between Pinhead and the fact she is like a demon coming from hell.

With the Victorian style and outfit she wears (uses his hand to express particular way she is dressed) we wanted it to be a mix of these two influences.

BLAKE: Throughout the movie there are intercut shots of the baby seeming to react to what is going on around it. I was curious on your choice for having this device in the movie.

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: It was a choice we made very late during the editing. In fact originally we only had the shot of the belly from the first sequence of the movie. However, during the editing our editor Baxter told us, “something is missing in this movie, we must see the baby.” It was a fucking good idea so we have put these sequences from inside the belly of Sarah. It was one of the last ideas we put into the movie.

JULIEN MAURY: Baxter the editor came one day and he said we missed the third character and that it’s a story of three, a triangle. So we have the two main characters that are fighting for what? They are fighting for the third so we must see the third. It was a great idea.

BLAKE: Inside is filled with so many complex and elaborate sequences. I’m curious what you would consider the most challenging sequence you pulled off in the movie?

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: The final sequence. I wanted to shoot this sequence in two days but in the end I only had one day to shoot it. So after 35 days of really hard shooting and with only one camera and no second unit we shot this sequence in 16 hours. We did this near the end of the shooting the movie and the entire crew was very tired, including the actresses. Béatrice was very aggravated by the makeup and it was just very difficult for everyone.

BLAKE: Could you talk about how you decided on the look of blood and how you decided it would operate in the movie? Blood flows like a work of art, like its own symphonic character in this film.

JULIEN MAURY: (Laughs) We love blood!

BLAKE: Its use reminded me of a lot of gialli.

JULIEN MAURY: You know it’s like in Tenebre from Dario Argento when the arm is cut off or when the mother is stabbed in the neck (makes blood squirting noise).

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: It’s like The Wild Bunch too (makes blood squirting noise). It’s realistic because if you put something in the neck of a woman the blood will flow like a movie.

JULIEN MAURY: Let’s try now and find out!

BLAKE: If you like that scene in Tenebre with the arm being cut off there is an equally good arm being cut off sequence you have to see in Massimo Dallamano’s giallo, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

(Everyone Laughs)

JULIEN MAURY: We are fond of makeup done on set and not CGI. We love latex and fake blood so it was very important for us to discover the effects on the set and not create them in the post production. We are fans of 70’s movies and we love the blood! Each time we went back to the special effects department while making the movie we were always like, “MORE, MORE, MORE!

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: At the end of the shooting the house we were shooting in was a blood bath. It was a real house.

JULIEN MAURY: A rental one.

BLAKE: A real house? Was anything in the movie shot on a set?

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: Only the bathroom was fake and built in a studio.

Shooting in a real house was very difficult. It was big, but not too big. Each day when we were shooting we had 35 people in the house. It was like a reality TV show. (Laughs)

BLAKE: There is a strong element of hate between the two main characters running throughout the film but there is also a strong element of love and nurturing that develops between them. I was curious to hear your thoughts on this aspect of the film?

JULIEN MAURY: They are like two faces of the same character. There is a real similarity between the two. The two are broken by life. The character of Béatrice is not really mean. She doesn’t want to come and say, “Ahhh you’re gonna suuufffeeerrrrr!” It’s not like that, it’s more like, “I just want the baby and unfortunately it’s in your belly.” Of course she has lost her mind but she doesn’t particularly want to hurt Sarah. Of course she does end up doing this but that is because Sarah is fighting back. I think you’re alluding to the sequence on the bed but she is more like an animal. She is smelling and just primal and seeing if she is still alive. It’s just like I smell her (acts out her sniffing with sound effects). I want to feel her and what it is like to be pregnant. It’s like a fusion of the two characters.

SPOILER SECTION
A special section geared towards fans that have already seen Inside.

Read on only if you’ve seen the film. BIG SPOILERS FOLLOW!

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BLAKE: What are some of the biggest differences between the original script and the finished film?

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: There is no big big difference. The only big difference was the original ending. [It’s at the end after we see] Sarah dying on the stairs from her injuries. After that there was a sequence that no one understood.

It was a very strange sequence with Béatrice in the rocking chair with the baby and the camera moves to left and back to the door. Someone is standing at the door ringing the doorbell. [Suddenly] it is 15 years in the future. [The person] is the baby of Sarah who is now a young 15-year-old girl. A woman opens the door that is the new current inhabitant of the house. She then comes into the house just to see the stairs, to see where she was born. [In the end] we preferred to finish the movie on Béatrice and the baby. It was stronger and more horrific because the audience doesn’t know what will happen to the baby or what will happen to Béatrice. I think it’s a better ending.

BLAKE: Well speaking of spoilers and the ending this is one of the few films where the traditional hero and villain characters flip at the end. With the end reveal you could easily say the villain is actually the hero and vice versa. So Béatrice Dalle would then be the hero strolling into town for a showdown with the villain.

JULIEN MAURY: First, it’s a happy ending. Béatrice as you know wants a baby at any cost and even if it’s for 5 minutes holding the baby on her lap or a lifetime, for her it’s the same. She achieved what she wanted to do. At the end she has her baby. And yes you’re right and it was very important for us to express the fact that nothing is black or white.

You know, villains in movies are always the more interesting characters for us. We love the bad guys. In the end with Inside we tried to say that Béatrice is not just a boogie woman coming to stab everyone, that she is just a woman broken by life. It’s just a sad story and human drama.

BLAKE: How many takes on the baby cutting out sequence?

JULIEN MAURY: Only one (Laughs). No it depends on the shot, the match was two takes.

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: We poked the belly two times and the first time the belly was very clean without blood and we said, “Oh fuck we forgot the blood on the belly!” So we had to shoot it again. It was very hard.

JULIEN MAURY: We brought in a new pregnant woman to do the shot (Laughs).

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: We were so tired at this moment of making the movie.

JULIEN MAURY: There were gallons of blood everywhere. It was tricky. It was really hard but we succeeded and take pride in the result.

ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO: It was our favorite sequence in the movie. Although it was difficult to shoot we love the result!

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MORE THOUGHTS ON THE FILM

Béatrice Dalle and Alysson Paradis both give performances for the ages during their explosively intimate brawl. We get to experience characters so immersive, seeming to show heaven flickering in their eyes and their inner hells ripping through their veins as they scrape for each inch to get the upper-hand on the other.

So many horror films get it wrong these days. They completely over-light the killer/monster as if they were starring in a Broadway play. They seem to go to great pains for the audience to be comfortable throughout. And last but not least they seem to thrive on recycling the same loud jump noise scare again and again (they really want to keep you the audience on edge). Bustillo and Maury luckily bring back true horror and terror with their film. Their is no over-lighting of any characters. If anything they go to great lengths to create deep and dark mysterious places in the film. The scares in the film are actual scares void of anything that is a rehash or the cliche loud noise jump.

I don't want to oversell this film and even though Inside clearly benefited from the fact most of the crew jumped right over from making Frontiers into making this one, I have to stop and think that here we have a new voice in cinema that I have no doubt we will be talking about more and more with each of their upcoming films and body of work, and on their first outing have already made a hell on Earth this beautifully upsetting and terrifying at the same time. I cannot wait to see what they have up their sleeves next.

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Thanks to Peter Martin for helping me proof this interview and to Sitges Film Festival staff who allowed me to get in an extra question.

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