Dir: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury.
Starring: Chloe Coulloud, Catherine Jacob, Felix Moati, Jeremy Kapone, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Beatrice Dalle.
I know that this is going to make a lot of people angry with me but I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t like French horror films. I don’t know what it is about them but I just never got the love that most of my fellow horror fans have given to them. Ever since after HIGH TENSION was released back in 2003 and started the whole ‘new French wave of horror’ cinema, it seems that every time that one gets released they are automatically showered with praise by the horror community as one of the best horror genre in their respective years.
Personally, I’ve found pretty much nearly all them have failed to live up to the hype and end up just being either a mediocre or terrible horror film. However despite my dislike for them there have only been two French horror films over the last couple of years that I’ve liked, those were Alexandre Aja’s HIGH TENSION (which I really like despite its unnecessary twist ending) and, in my opinion, the best one that the country has released so far: INSIDE by Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury. The latter for me is an almost masterpiece of the horror genre that nearly got all the elements right. I loved INSIDE so much that I was excited for what it’s directors Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury were going to do next. Now they are back on the scene with their much-anticipated follow-up film LIVID, which I couldn’t wait to see. So does LIVID live up to the promise of their debut film? Sadly, no.
The film tells the story of a young woman named Lucie (Chloe Coulloud), who has just started her first day of training as an at-home nurse under the watchful eye of fellow nurse Mrs. Wilson (Catherine Jacob). At the end of the day, Mrs. Wilson takes Lucie to her last patient who lives out in a very old secluded mansion in the country side that is the home of Mrs. Deborah Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla), a famous former ballet teacher who is now in a coma. While they tend to Mrs. Jessel, Mrs. Wilson tells Lucie about the many rumours about their patient, one rumour in particular is that Mrs. Jessel has a treasure of gold and jewels hidden somewhere in the house. So when Lucie tells her boyfriend Will (Felix Moati) and their friend Ben (Jeremy Kapone) about the treasure, they all decide to break into the mansion later that night and try to find it. Once they do, they soon discover that there is something horrifying hidden within the mansion as well.
There is a lot more to the plot than that but I decided not to reveal anymore since some aspects of the story that’s best not to know too much about it, since it would ruin some of the film’s surprises. However I will say that while I give both Bustillo & Maury credit for doing something different after INSIDE by doing a more supernatural horror film, unfortunately I found the overall result to be a rather average and disappointing film. I guess the main problem is that while the film has a very cool premise but the actually execution of it didn’t work. I will admit that the film did have my interest for the first half but once Lucie and her friends break into the mansion and more of the plot is reveled, I actually started to lose interest in it. While the reveals of the plot (which I won’t spoil) are actually quite interesting but the film never really give the time to explore them enough for me to care, because of that it didn’t really make that much sense due to its weak script. Plus it doesn’t help the film wasn’t scary or intense, which is a shame because both Bustillo & Maury were able to that perfectly in INSIDE. Speaking of INSIDE, they also bring back one of their stars from that film Beatrice Dalle for a role in this one as well. Unfortunately Dalle is completely wasted in her useless and pointless role which could have easily have been cut out since it didn’t add much to the film at all (her role is basically a cameo). Also the film can be rather poorly paced at times, especially in the last half.
However despite all those negative aspects, I do have some positives about the film. One thing for certain I can say about LIVID is that it definitely delivers on the technical front. This is an absolutely beautiful looking and visual stunning horror film. Cinematographer Laurent Bares gives the film a dark and atmospheric look that perfectly captures the mood of the story, while at the same time giving us some vibrant and beautifully shot moments (there is one scene in particular that happens during the 2nd act that I found breathtaking. You’ll know what I mean when you see it). Also the performances from the cast were solid but it is definitely lead star Chloe Coulloud who delivers the best turn as “Lucie”. She stood out the most from the cast and I enjoyed her performance. The direction by both Bustillo & Maury was pretty solid for most part, the score by Raphaël Gesqua was terrific and haunting, the production design was extremely well done and the ending was nicely handled (even if it is a bit silly when you see it).
Overall while LIVID did delivered a lot on the technical and performance side, unfortunately the same couldn’t be said about the story. Which is disappointing since it had the potential to make a great supernatural horror film but in the end became are rather unscary and uninteresting film. I’m sure the film will have its fans but sadly it just didn’t really work for me and it still continues the trend of disappointing French horror films. However despite that I’m still very much looking forward to what both Bustillo & Maury are going to do next since I still do believe that these guys are very talented horror directors and hopefully they’ll be able to deliver again with their next film.
The Australian DVD:
Audio/Video: The video is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. Audio is presented Dolby Digital 5.1 French language, with English Subtitles.
I found the DVD looked and sounded really good, another top quality transfer.
Sadly there is only a trailer, some other kind of feature may have gone a long way.
Review written by Bede Jermyn