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"It's young Lucy's first day as a trainee in-house caregiver. She visits Mrs Jessel, an old woman who lies in cerebral coma, by herself, in her large desolate house. Learning by accident that Mrs Jessel, a former dance teacher of repute, supposedly possesses a treasure somewhere in the house, Lucy and friends William and Ben decide to search the house in the hope of finding it. At night, they get into the house, which reveals itself to be increasingly peculiar. Their hunt for Mrs Jessel's treasure leads them into a horrifying supernatural series of events that will change Lucy forever..." Written by
Inside is possibly my favourite horror film of all time. I've not seen a horror film that matches its thrilling intensity and roller-coaster ride feeling, apart from maybe the final third of Black Swan (which isn't really horror). So you can imagine my excitement when Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (the writers and directors of Inside) announced that they were doing another horror film. I got even more excited when I heard the plot, and got really excited when I saw some down right beautiful images ie. The bloody girl floating. As you can imagine, I'm now really, really excited. I see the trailer which makes me more excited but then the reviews come in... The reviews aren't too good. All of them say it's nothing like Inside, and all of them very mixed, telling me to bring my expectations down to rock bottom and that's what I did (although still incredibly excited) and Livid didn't disappoint.
The fact that the duo abandon the whole Inside theme all together and do something completely different with a slow, creeping, fairytale horror film just makes me respect them more. This shows that they're not one hit wonders and they do absolutely understand our beloved genre. I'd be more disappointed if they did an inferior rip-off of Inside. Livid just goes to show how versatile this couple are (not that I'm suggested they are an actual couple. just a friendly duo! Although there is nothing wrong with them being a couple of course.) Livid shows off their directing skills beautifully as they've created a magnificently-crafted horror film that can sit proudly amongst the other French greats.
Obviously it will have to sit a few notches below Inside and others such as Martyrs and The Ordeal, because of course Livid is not a patch on Inside, but what is? Livid creates a wonderfully haunting atmosphere from the word go. It begins with some fantastic shots around a beach (including a severed head!) and grave-yard ehich really draws you in to the story. We're then introduced to a beautiful French lady called Lucie who's driving around with a sarcastic house-to-house carer and it's her first day on the job. We get to know each of their characters well and then things officially start when Lucie's introduced to a comatose old woman who supposedly has a treasure hidden somewhere and of course her and her somewhat idiotic friends decide to break in and steal it! Bad idea.
There's a nightmarish quality that resonates all the way through Livid. The film is rich with atmosphere and imagery, giving it a fairytale vibe with its exaggerated and almost Tim Burton-esque production design. Livid has been made with such care and it really shows through! There's an almost choking atmoshpere when the group first break into the old woman's house, as it's all very oppressive with gaudy wallpaper and a rickety house design. There is also an undeniable creepy atmosphere and a feeling of something not being right. The first meeting of the ballerina girl is pretty chilling and the film is full of beautiful imagery that will likely stay with you for days.
Livid is a horror throw-back. Back to those hammer horror days where horror films relied on atmosphere, rather than gore. However, that's not to say that there isn't some gore in Livid! Although it obviously isn't as extreme as Inside's unholy amount of blood, there are a lot of cringey moments! My only problems with Livid is that it did feel a little slow at times, which is fine for building up the atmosphere, however I think that it was building it up for too long at times. Also, I would've liked more character development on Lucie's friends, they just looked like they were there to be killed off! However, Livid isn't a slasher film, in fact it offers some rather terrific twists along the way.
Livid tries to trick you with its old-school scares such as the dolls head moving, which is in fact done incredibly well! However, some original scares do suddenly start to come and they are very creepy. I could feel the panic of the group when they realised they couldn't get out this old mansion, with a creepy old woman on the top floor! There are also some rather brutal and inventive kills. I can see some people getting confused with its dream-scape-like atmosphere, but just think of it as a Dario Argento film or Mulholland Drive. The film is made to look like a nightmare, that's why things can turn surreal, and characters make perplexing decisions. P.s. I would've liked Beatrice Dalle to have been in it more, she was more of a nod to fans of Inside, but I think she could've played a bigger role. She was in it for all of 10 seconds!
Livid goes up another notch in my book when it starts to bring in some gorgeous flash-backs that really do feel like a fairytale (although one not to be telling your kiddies!) That's when the plot really starts to thicken and things become very interesting and rather juicy! There's a wonderful finale, beautifully filmed and I didn't find the ending that infuriating like some people, just try not to take it too literally! So I did actually really like Livid despite the mixed feedback. It's a refreshing change to have a well-made haunted house movie, although it is French, thus obviously going to be good! Whilst Livid won't attack you emotionally like Inside or Martyrs, it will give you a solid horror film, with an interesting narrative and some beautiful cinematography and directing. I shall eagerly await Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's next horror film. But for now I'll just feed off of these two gems!
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