Knock Knock. Who’s ‘Inside’? Willem Dafoe. Willem Dafoe Who? Willem Dafriend. (CREDIT: Courtesy of Focus Features)

Starring: Willem Dafoe

Director: Vasilis Katsoupis

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R, Because Weird Things Happen When You’re Stuck All Alone in a Penthouse

Release Date: March 17, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Have you ever wanted to be endlessly trapped in a penthouse apartment with Willem Dafoe? Then Inside is the movie for you! Although, that promise of companionship might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Dafoe plays Nemo, an art thief who finds himself in accidental solitary confinement when an attempted heist becomes completely pear-shaped. The penthouse’s security system goes haywire (or maybe this is exactly how it’s supposed to work when an intruder arrives), and Nemo’s associates on the outside immediately abandon him. There’s basically no hope of escape, and any flash of hope that Nemo can signal someone on the outside for help is merely that, just a flash. But at least there’s plenty of expensive art to keep him company!

What Made an Impression?: I know I’m not the only one who thinks of Willem Dafoe as “Willem Da Friend.” What I’m trying to say is, I’m always happy when he’s on my screen. But it turns out that it’s a big ask to watch just about anyone wasting away in such relentless isolation. I’d like to believe that there are interesting ways to keep someone trapped, but Inside struck me as mostly tedious. It has some ideas on its mind, but nothing really tickled my philosophical bone.

At the beginning of the film, Nemo recalls in voiceover a time he was asked as a child what three things he would save if his house were on fire. At the time, he settled upon an AC/DC CD, his cat, and his sketchbook. Looking back on that moment, he now seems less fond of the Australian rockers and the meowing critter, but he firmly believes that “art is for keeps.” Perhaps his current predicament is meant as a test of that theory? If it is, we never really see him grapple with any sort of existential conundrum. Sure, he gradually loses his sanity, but that would probably happen to anybody in his situation, no matter what their feelings about art.

The one element of Inside that I unreservedly enjoyed was the refrigerator that plays the “Macarena” (of 90s dance craze fame) whenever it’s opened. If we had gotten an hour and a half of Dafoe boogieing along with Los Del Rio, instead of just a few minutes, I think I would have bit just a bit harder. If my house were on fire, I would want to ensure that “Macarena” makes it out alive. Luckily, I wouldn’t have to worry, because there’s no way you can burn away the indelible spirit it’s left on all of humanity. Inside doesn’t fully emphasize the power of the Macarena, but it certainly doesn’t dispute it either, and that’s the message I’m choosing to focus on.

Inside is Recommended If You Like: Insisting that everything is art

Grade: 2 out of 5 CCTVs