Flickering into life like a forgotten SNES cartridge cutscene, INSIDE appears as a blocky, 16-bit, black-and-white mosaic. The words “Inside” and “Dreams” emerge to the deep hum of Mondkopf’s score and you already know you’re watching something a little unusual.

That feeling only intensifies as we learn about the narrator’s past visions in a nightmarish, juddering flashback. A nearly-naked man writhes in pain in an alley – a fate that soon consumes our narrator (Seymour Milton) too, as cables extrude from his body and mouth in a moment reminiscent of Neo’s birth in The Matrix.

The narrator develops a kind of hypochondria, imagining bizarre and painful conditions afflicting him, despite all evidence to the contrary. It would be cruel to reveal how INSIDE concludes, but it’s safe to say that director Mattis Dovier’s vision is both chilling and nostalgic for what it means to be human.

With a lot of help from Seymour Milton’s voiceover, INSIDE creates a sense of lost personality – a world where people are no longer individuals and everything is breaking down into a series of unavoidable catastrophes. In this little world, hypochondria is equivalent to an apocalypse.

INSIDE’s plot is very simple (and very disturbing), but it’s told beautifully in the form of the voiceover. The short would conceivably have just as much power without any voiceover at all, but the almost poetic lines that Milton recites lend an epic scope to this small tale of personal self-destruction. The final words: “I’m writing so that we remember what we used to be”, say it all.

Dovier makes a bold choice with his style of animation, but it works perfectly with his subject matter. The disintegration of the mind echoes the disintegration in the low-resolution, and in the end, INSIDE feels like a salvaged relic of a ruined past.

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INFORMATION

CAST: Seymour Milton (Voiceover)

DIRECTOR: Mattis Dovier

WRITER: Translated from French by Violette Giang

MUSIC: Mondkopf (Paul Régimbeau)

SYNOPSIS: A man begins having severe hallucinations and suffering from hypochondria, but do his visions reveal something more than his own fragile mental state?