In Vasilis Katsoupis’ Inside, Willem Dafoe plays Nemo, an art thief trapped in an insane high-end loft after his attempted robbery goes wrong and the security system locks down the entire penthouse. While being stuck in a luxurious home may sound appealing, the owners have left for an extended stay and left the place barren, so Nemo must figure out how to escape and/or survive before he goes completely mad.
There are very few actors whom I believe would be able to make a compelling picture with nobody to act with. Tom Hanks did well with this in Cast Away, and Willem Dafoe has those skills to excel in this same very difficult scenario. The range he shows during the picture is impressive, starting as the smarmy bad guy thief and progressing through ALL of the machinations one could experience during an extended period of isolation, struggle, and mental illness in an unfamiliar setting.
In his first feature film, Vasilis Katsoupis crafts a visual and emotional assault on the senses featuring stylized shots fitting the scenery of an ultra-modern art den. There are quite a few scenes here that reminded me of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, though I think even he would have called somewhat Katsoupis filmed over-the-top and unnecessary.
This entire film looks as if it was shot for $50,000 plus Dafoe’s fee, with allusions to flying vehicles or occurrences in the outside world that almost never actually appear. There are a couple of people visible on closed circuit tv, but outside of that it’s just Dafoe and a weird apartment. The way that this tries to play out, I wondered if this was actually a first draft of The Room… but no. It isn’t enough fun to be that.
The first hour seemed to sucker me into what starts as a very interesting premise of a character study built on suspense, but then it spends the final forty-five minutes destroying any good feelings and hope. Don’t get me wrong here; it is not the story of the film that broke me down or became a Shakespearian tragedy. Simply put, it is Inside’s mere existence and failings that destroy the first hour and beyond that any desire to continue watching this trainwreck of an experience.
I am sure that there are some like film students or arthouse aficionados who will insist that this is just art and just won’t “get it” or the deeper meanings of… well, anything in this debacle. I would respond to that statement with my opinion of this film, which is, “I know a steaming pile of excrement when I see it, and no explanation or extended studying will change that”.