Midnight Madness closes TIFF with icky, sticky A L'interieur

Forget parties, forget closing night galas; the Toronto International Film Festival truly comes to its rousing close at the Ryerson Theatre with the final Midnight Madness screening. Songs were sung, beach balls were bounced, we "arrrrrrh"ed our way through the anti-piracy card for the very last time, and rum was occasionally imbibed at the Rye-high tonight, before Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's sick pregno-horror gore-fest À l'intérieur hit us square in the eyeballs.

The filmmakers are French, and friends of last year's closing filmmaker, Kim Chapiron (who brought us Sheitan). There's no two ways about it: if their horror movies are to be believed, the French are a deeply disturbed people.

À l'intérieur is basically Panic Room with three significant alterations:

  1. Daughter still inside Mom instead of 12 years old and ambulatory

  2. Trio of thieves replaced by nigh-unkillable psycho woman


Yup, an about-to-give birth single mom (her husband was killed in a freak car crash, so mommy's a bit on the moody side) is trapped in her house by a psychotic woman who knows her way around a pair of scissors, and mayhem predictably ensues. This flick was billed as being the goriest thing since Dead Alive, and it's certainly in the ballpark. The film starts off slow and spooky, and promptly turns into a seamlessly nightmarish hell-ride featuring a duel of attrition between the mom-to-be and her assailant.

And with the aforementioned scissors being joined by knitting needles, shards of broken mirror, and a home-made harpoon, I must reiterate: SO MUCH BLOOD.

À l'intérieur is definitely not a flick for the squeamish, and its unrepentently grim conclusion smacks of a pair of filmmakers who couldn't figure out how to write their way out of the box they'd put themselves in. But the closing night Midnight Madness films have been waging a war of escalation ever since Saw premiered here in 2004; À l'intérieur is a cunning and capable one-up to the astonishing horrors of last year's Sheitan, and should hold the crown firmly until we see whatever Colin Geddes trots out on us at this time next year.

And so, TIFF ends as it always does - with a thousand fans screaming bloody murder in the dark. See you next year!

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