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Series / Beyond the Walls

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Lisa explores her new home
"What did you do to be in the house?"

Beyond the Walls (original title: Au-delà des Murs) is a 2016 three-episode Mini Series directed by Hervé Hadmar and starring Veerle Baetens in the main role.

The young and reclusive speech therapist Lisa unexpectedly inherits an old house from a man who died thirty years ago and mentioned her in his will. Despite being unnerved by inheriting such a prize from a man she has never heard of, she takes on the challenge of renovating the decrepit building and moves in. While she is working on the house, she sometimes hears noises that seem to come from beyond the walls of her new home.

The mysterious noises grate on her nerves until she one day decides to take matters a step further and uses a hammer to violently break through one of the walls that she believes the noises originate in. What she finds behind the wall comes as a surprise: In a small corridor between the walls of her home, there is a door hiding a staircase that leads to an elaborate series of cellars that no blueprint of the house shows.

When Lisa goes spelunking in the candlelit dark, she soon finds out that she is lost, as the staircase she used to climb down into the maze seems to have disappeared, leaving her alone with the strange creatures that wander its unending hallways.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Main character Lisa is the driving force of the plot. She is proactive, brave and not afraid to deal with her own shortcomings, but never lets them sway her from her goal for long. Being a normal woman doesn't keep her from kicking quasi-zombie butt, either.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The first hint that this trope is in effect is the door into the labyrinth of the House: Lisa uses a hammer to break into a wall that can only be a few feet thick, but it accomodates a whole corridor and a full-sized door. Then, once in the House proper, all bets are off as to how big the thing really is.
  • Eldritch Location: The House is so incredibly vast it might be infinite. Under certain conditions, it definitely is. It even has its own forest that is locked in daytime and is implied to hide whole oceans in its bowels. It can also change its layout, depending on the actions of its inhabitants.
  • Epiphanic Prison:
    • The House in general: It traps the people who wander into it, waits until they lose their will to leave, and then turns them into zombie-like creatures, that impede and intimidate new arrivals. One can withstand its pull, if the will to escape is there and you have a way to remember the outside, for example by eating bread, but that still doesn't mean you will manage to leave.
    • The little idyllic house at the lake that Lisa finds on her journey can almost count as a Tailor-Made Prison. The House lets her live happily with her dead little sister, but she is not allowed to leave. The realization that her sister is dead and nothing she does will change that is the epiphany she needs to have before even thinking about leaving.
  • Escape from the Crazy Place: Lisa and Julien try to find the red door to leave the House. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is.
  • Evil Wears Black: Rose dresses in a lovely, all-black victorian dress. She is very old and has the uncanny habit of just standing straight and staring at you. Rose is courteous, but it is clear from her very first appearance that she is bad news, and indeed she turns out to be the most effective trick the House plays on Lisa.
  • Food Chains: Inverted. The only way to keep your sanity and resist the House is to eat.
  • Genius Loci: The House has a will of its own. It speaks through Rose, who is either a part of it or one of the inhabitants who has given up on finding their way out. Its main goal seems to be either assimilation or helping people with their various psychological problems in a very mind-screwy way.
  • Help Yourself in the Future: Julien discovers that the mysterious man, who passed down the house to Lisa needs to be himself. So he buys it and writes her inheritance of the place into his will along with the clues, so that she will be able to save him in the future.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The little house at the lake. Lisa is reunited with her beloved little sister who doesn't want her to leave.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Lisa is a woman of around 30 years, living in the 2000s. She falls in love with Julien, who served in World War one and has been trapped in the House ever since. At the end of the story, when the House returns him back to his time, they are separated, with him writing a book about his life to her. He is well in his 70s when she is born, which he is lamenting.
  • Mind Screw: Do the memories of Lisa influence the House or does the House screw with her memories? Is the little girl really the spirit of Lisa's dead sister or a construct of her mind —or worse: of the House itself? Does the House exist within its own physical laws or is it malleable, depending on who's in it and what they are doing? Does it run on metaphors? Is the whole thing even real?
  • Ontological Mystery: The characters know how they got into the House, but that's about it. Julien has a vague idea about finding a red door to be able to leave, but he has been in there for the better part of a century, without much progress, despite mapping the place. As it turns out, the only way to leave is a rather difficult combination of interpretation of scripture, having a very specific epiphany and the balls to journey into the deepest bowels of the house, where the zombie-like inhabitants crawl around in the hundreds.
  • Place Beyond Time: Time inside the House seems to pass normally —if it even passes, that is—, but it doesn't matter when you entered it or how long you spent there, it will always send you back towards your time, if you manage to leave.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: The House acts like this to everyone who enters. Lisa sees the ghost of her little sister and Julien has do deal with a fallen comrade from the first world war. It is implied that the House latches onto the feelings of guilt or even survivor's guilt and makes the people inside deal with them in a rather direct way.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: Lisa, after leaving behind the house at the lake, searches for Julien, who has almost turned into one of the zombie-like inhabitants. In the black room, she manages to pull him back just in time. Afterwards they search for the exit with renewed vigour.
  • Scenery Porn: The inside of the House is hauntingly beautiful and the cinematography takes care to make it seem at once claustrophobic and vast in scale.
  • Stable Time Loop: Lisa only enters the house after she inherits it from André and and Julien only becomes André and leaves Lisa the house after Lisa tells him about it in the house.
  • Surreal Horror: The House has its merry way with the laws of phyics in every conceivable way. The zombie-like creatures inhabiting it don't help either: you can't communicate with them, they vastly differ in intelligence and hostility and sometimes seem to wear boar heads for fun.
  • Write Back to the Future: Julien writes a book about his life after leaving the house and buys the house that will eventually be Lisa's so that the events can pass as needed for her to come meet and rescue him.