Dimension Films

As is the case with certain amusement park rides, pregnant women are well advised to avoid "Inside," the latest example of over-the-top French cinematic horror.

This claustrophobic shocker co-directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (both surely destined for Hollywood careers) would certainly do well here with the "Saw" crowd were it not for those pesky subtitles. Recently showcased at Lincoln Center's "Film Comment Selects" series, "Inside" is set to be released this year on DVD.

Running a compact 83 minutes, the simple story line centers on Sarah (Alysson Paradis), a pregnant young woman spending Christmas Eve alone with her cat before going to the hospital the next day for a cesarean section. Having lost her husband in a car crash several months earlier -- the film helpfully shows us repeated images of the fetus being bounced around the walls of her womb -- Sarah turns down the offers of company from her mother and solicitous boss.

That turns out to be a mistake, as her home is soon invaded by a mysterious figure (Beatrice Dalle) identified in the credits only as "the woman," who is determined to perform a premature and rather cruder version of the operation in order to get the baby for herself. A lengthy cat-and-mouse game follows, with the intruder -- armed with such weapons as a nasty pair of scissors and knitting needles -- proceeding to terrify Sarah even while dispatching several visitors, including a pair of hapless cops, who attempt to intervene.

The filmmakers pile on the gore in relentless fashion, no doubt exhausting the French supply of whatever substance passes for blood these days. It would all be laughable if it wasn't also so damn effective, with the expert photography and editing providing a nonstop barrage of visceral shocks.

Sadistically tapping into elemental female fears, "Inside" is strictly for those who like their horror on the extreme side.