France 2007, 82 mins
Directors: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo

The films of the New French Extremity and the accompanying focus on Gaspar Noé examine an important, controversial and highly violent cinema movement. They are not suitable for all.

The film you are about to watch may contain very dark themes, graphic imagery, and scenes of a very upsetting nature including sexual violence and body horror.

Inside is the culmination of a desire to produce a genuine genre film in France.

A truly realistic, radical thriller bordering on horror, Inside is the first feature film produced by Vérane Frédiani and Franck Ribière’s La Fabrique de Films.

‘We’ve always loved genre movies. Even before we became distributors, we were constantly on the lookout for new talent in this field,’ Frédiani says. ‘Genre movies are highly creative and entertaining, they’re self-consciously clever and they play with cinematic conventions to unnerve the audience. Genre movies are often very good films which stand the test of time and help discover great filmmakers. Peter Jackson, James Cameron and Sam Raimi started out making genre flicks. We wanted to get involved more actively in this endeavour, but as producers this time round. Especially as there are very few French genre movies. All we had to do was find the right project.’

A former Mad Movies film critic, Alexandre Bustillo came up with the original storyline. ‘One of my friends was pregnant when I came up with the idea of Inside. She lived in a small house in a suburban area. So I tried to figure out what could happen if she was alone one night and a killer dropped by to visit her. It seemed to me that a woman who desperately wants a child was more convincing – and therefore scarier – than your average psycho killer. So I immediately set out to write a first draft of the script, and the more I moved forward, the more I unexpectedly realised that the idea was genuinely frightening and echoed stories you read in the papers.’

Bustillo stresses that he wanted to deal with female characters: ‘Horror movies with all-female casts work out rather well. Take The Descent for instance – which is a film that goes beyond horror and addresses motherhood. If you substitute female characters for male characters, you end up with The Cave, a totally pointless movie.’

Although Inside’s approach is straightforward and even blunt, the film’s look is that of a modern fairy tale. Bustillo adds: ‘A three-act story, Inside somehow calls to mind urban legends you tell your friends around a campfire at night. The first act is deeply rooted in reality – you gradually grow familiar with Sarah’s devastated life (her husband has just passed away) until the Woman turns up and attacks her. With the second act, your perspective on the characters and your viewpoint gets blurred – once the power is cut off, everything goes dark and all you can see are the ghost-like figures of the main characters. With the third act, the Woman’s madness reaches its climax, and her determination and her rage take over her human nature, and so she turns into a monster in the classic, tragic sense of the word.’

Once the script was completed, Bustillo set out to find producers. La Fabrique de Films’ producers quickly agreed to embark on the project because what they liked about the story was the primarily psychological terror and the profoundly visceral, human scare factor which will no doubt draw gut reactions from the audience.

‘The script is shrewd and inventive, and it is very different from anything that has been done so far in France,’ Franck Ribière says. ‘A couple of things particularly caught our attention. First, the all-female storyline and the primal fright factor, which actually goes way beyond the average horror flick and deals with motherhood. And then Alexandre’s personality and drive – he’s a genre movie expert. We’ve been thinking for a while now that we should turn to the fans, to the people who are really familiar with these films and know the genre inside out.’

‘Our starting point was a situation that could happen to anyone. When you’re home alone, you’re always afraid someone may sneak in to harm you,’ Vérane Frédiani says. ‘In the context of the film, both women’s motives are perfectly understandable, and therefore acceptable. They engage in a ruthless clash because a child is at stake. That’s what we liked about the storyline. We had no use for your average torture flick. We simply weren’t interested. We don’t intend to produce thrillers or horror movies just to freak people out. We first and foremost care about stories that affect our emotions.’

Béatrice Dalle agrees: ‘I don’t think Inside is an extremely violent movie. There’s no more violence than needed in the story. The film never indulges in violence for the sake of it. Plus you see stuff so much worse in the papers or on TV everyday…’

As Bustillo was writing the script, he looked for a director to bring his project to the screen. He found Julien Maury who’d made a name for himself with his short film Pizza Hunt, which earned several awards in a number of festivals. ‘When I watched Pizza Hunt, I was impressed by what he achieved with a limited budget. His camera work made an impact. Julien was an obvious choice to direct Inside. I originally was supposed to only write the script. We eventually decided to co-direct the movie and unite our strengths.’

Their collaborative effort was based on their mutual passion and knowledge. When you ask them about their influences, they readily quote slasher films, including Halloween for the treatment of violence in a gritty urban environment, The Ordeal’_s spare beauty, _Maléfique’s sharp sense of confinement, and more generally the giallo genre (for Béatrice Dalle’s character), both for its look and its operatic intensity, and the 1970s supernatural, taut thrillers like Polanski’s The Tenant.

Once they decided to co-direct the film together, they wrapped up a final rewrite of Inside. ‘We focused on the film’s development, the chain of events, the dialogue, the narrative. The producers never tried to interfere with the film’s actual content. They’ve always accepted the extreme violence of the material. They mostly helped us flesh out the script and the characters, and add supporting characters, while the emphasis was originally on the two leading ladies.’
Production notes

Directors: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo
Production Companies: Celluloid Nightmare, La Fabrique de Films, Canal+, Cinécinémas, BR Films
Producers: Franck Ribière, Vérane Frédiani, Rodolphe Guglielmi, Teddy Percherancier, Frédéric Ovcaric
Production Manager: Jean-François Chaintron
Assistant Director: Léonard Gullain
Screenplay: Alexandre Bustillo
Director of Photography: Laurent Barès
Special Effects Supervisors: Jacques-Olivier Molon, Pierre-Olivier Thévenin
Visual Effects Supervisor: Rodolphe Guglielmi
Editor: Baxter
Art Director: Marc Thiebault
Costumes: Martine Rapin
Music: François Eudes
Sound: Jacques Sans

Alysson Paradis (Sarah)
Béatrice Dalle (the woman)
Nathalie Roussel (Louise)
Jean-Baptiste Tabourin (Matthieu)
François-Régis Marchasson (Jean-Pierre)
Claude Lule (doctor)
Dominique Frot
Tahar Rahim
Emmanuel Guez
Hyam Zaytoun
Ludovic Berthillot
Emmanuel Lanzi
Nicolas Duvauchelle
Aymen Saidi

France 2007
82 mins

Carne + La Bouche de Jean-Pierre
Sun 1 May 11:50; Thu 12 May 20:45 (+ Q&A with Lucile Hadžihalilovic)
Sun 1 May 18:20; Sat 7 May 20:50
The Ordeal (Calvaire)
Mon 2 May 12:30; Sun 22 May 18:20
Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous)
Mon 2 May 15:10; Tue 10 May 20:55
Sex and Death, but Make It Arthouse
Tue 3 May 18:10
Trouble Every Day
Tue 3 May 20:30 (+ intro by writer and creative Sophie Monks Kaufman); Tue 24 May 20:45
Criminal Lovers (Les Amants criminels)
Wed 4 May 20:50; Sat 14 May 12:00
Pola X
Thu 5 May 20:25; Sat 28 May 17:50
Romance (Romance X)
Fri 6 May 18:00 (+ intro by Catherine Wheatley, King’s College London); Tue 17 May 20:45
Philosophical Screens: Romance
Fri 6 May 20:00
In My Skin (Dans ma peau)
Sat 7 May 17:50 (+ intro by Catherine Wheatley, King’s College London); Thu 19 May 20:40
High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance) (Haute Tension)
Mon 9 May 18:00 (+ pre-recorded intro by author Alexandra West); Sat 28 May 12:20
Inside (À l’intérieur)
Sat 14 May 20:50; Thu 26 May 18:20
Them (Ils)
Mon 16 May 20:50; Sun 29 May 18:20
Irreversible (Irréversible) (theatrical version)
Sat 21 May 17:45
Sat 28 May 20:50; Tue 31 May 20:40
Horror à la Française
Free to view on the BFI YouTube channel from 11-31 May
BFI Courses: City Lit at the BFI: New French Extremity
Every Tue from 10-31 May 18:30-20:30

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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