Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe, from feminist horror collective The Final Girls, write about Inside (2007) and In My Skin (2002). The films are screening in a Final Girls double bill as part of our Club Ciné strand, which showcases the best of French cinema at Picturehouse Central.
There was a brief, bloody moment in the late 1990s to mid 2000s when French cinema turned vicious. Graphic, boundary-busting sex and explicit violence started filling French art-house and horror cinema.
Film writer and TIFF programmer James Quandt christened this period ‘New French Extremity’ in an article where he rammed into the movement for relishing scenes of excessive, glorified violence. But they’re about so much more than that.
The films of the New French Extremity put the visceral at the heart of the cinematic experience and have been dear to our black hearts since the very inception of The Final Girls. Our first screening in May 2016 was of Claire Denis’s much maligned cannibal love story Trouble Every Day (2001), a haunting exploration of desire taken to its very disturbing extreme. We’re now excited to be able to dive into the heightened gruesomeness of this particular subgenre of French horror film history with this ‘Body Trouble’ event.
Fascinated by their penchant for graphic violence – and our own – we present an exploration of a distinctly female brand of body horror. The terrifying ordeal of pregnancy is explored in Inside, and the all-consuming obsession with unachievable physical standards reaches a horrifying conclusion in In My Skin.
Our first film of the evening, Inside, turns up the dial on the home invasion thriller to create an unrelenting cat-and-mouse chase between a pregnant photographer (Alysson Paradis) and a mysterious woman (Béatrice Dalle) hunting her. The directors of film, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, expertly subvert the stereotype of the hunter always being male.
Marina de Van’s In My Skin, meanwhile, is an equally graphic, lyrical exploration of an ambitious young woman’s descent into an inexplicable pattern of self-mutilation after a car accident leaves her unable to feel pain.
Both films have female neuroses at their centre and peel back – sometimes, literally – every layer until the core is left exposed. The films of New French Extremity push the boundaries of what we expect from women in horror and confront the anxieties of the female body with vivid detail. We can’t wait to show these films and discuss them.
Join us at Picturehouse Central on Monday 19 December, 6.30pm. Book tickets.