That is bad, but as he soon discovers, things will get much worse. Although the apartment is filled with priceless works of art (the end credits list them like other films do with the songs on the soundtrack) and bric-a-brac, there’s little in the place that suggests human beings actually reside there. The fridge is virtually empty (though it does helpfully play “Macarena” whenever the freezer is open, the plumbing is shut down, and the only sources of water are a pool, the automatic watering system for the indoor garden, and a couple of large fish tanks (and you can probably guess the fate of the fish that they contain). If that weren’t enough, the fritzing control system causes the temperature to vary, seemingly at random, between broiling highs and freezing lows.
Nemo realizes that he’s in for the long haul. But that does not stop his determination to escape, primarily by jerry-rigging the apartment’s furnishings into a tower that he ascends in hopes of busting through the skylight high above. In between those intense and occasionally painful efforts, as the days seemingly blend into weeks, he staves off the pains of isolation by entertaining himself. He stages fake cooking shows (demonstrating how to make pasta without a working stove) and makes up stories involving the other building denizens he can see via security camera but who have no idea he is there. The effect is like what Matt Damon went through in “The Martian”—the difference being that it all takes place in a setting worth enough money to potentially fund a good part of a Mars mission all by itself.
Back to what I was saying about other filmmakers potentially making something out of the setup that Katsoupis and screenwriter Ben Hopkins have devised here. While watching “Inside” and finding it to not work, I found myself thinking of three distinctly different directors who could have done wonders with the material. For example, I can see Jerry Lewis transforming it into a potentially brilliant piece of sustained solo slapstick as he reduces the place to shambles while struggling to get free. (If you doubt this, check out the astonishing opening sequence to his final directorial effort, “Cracking Up,” in which he inadvertently destroys his psychiatrist’s waiting room through klutzy moves, a waxed floor, and a bag of M&M’s.) On the other hand, I can also see the story as a sort of existential arthouse (no pun intended) horror film from the likes of Michael Haneke—sort of what might result if he was inexplicably hired to direct the third “Escape Room” film. Finally, I would have loved to see this concept in the hands of the late great Larry Cohen, who was famous for films with audacious premises like this and could have properly navigated the moves into sociological commentary about the value, literal and metaphorical, of art.