Review: Livid (Livide) / Cert: 18 / Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury / Screenplay: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury / Starring: Chloe Coulloud, Catherine Jacob, Beatrice Dalle, Felix Moati, Jeremy Kapone, Chloe Marcq, Marie-Claude Pietragalla / Release Date: August 13th 2012
Directors Bustillo and Maury create a completely different beast to their debut film Inside with a stunning horror fairy-tale laced with bloody imagery. On Halloween evening a group of friends decide to search for unknown treasure in a mansion where Deborah Jessel, a famous ballet teacher, resides comatose in a wrought iron bed being drip fed blood to keep her alive.
Lucie Klavel (Coullou) has taken a new job as a carer for the elderly residents in her village. The experienced Catherine Wilson (Jacob) shows her the ropes, at first introducing her to the poor folk who get the level of care they can afford; a quick jab and a bed change. The final stop on their visit brings them to Jessel and her Victorian era style bedroom stuffed full of books, taxidermy and antiquated breathing apparatus. Jessel’s ghastly appearance brings to mind a Miss Havishim like figure starved of sunshine and love though living in wealth and as Catherine explains to Lucie “If you’re loaded with money you can get your last wishes respected” highlighting issues with wealth and class.
This is a film made up of two halves with a menacing atmosphere apparent throughout. The first part of the film introduces a bleak French seaside town, where the fisherman struggle a slow death, missing person posters are everywhere and Lucie can’t escape being haunted by the death of her mother (Dalle). The second half moves to a haunted house full of startling and inventive imagery of contorted cadavers and ferocious porcelain children. The intricate detailing in the sets and in some of the more brutal scenes in the house make for unsettling viewing playing out like a nightmare. Mechanical ballet dancers, taxidermy tea parties and a mother who uses her daughter like a doll and keeps her trapped only add to the intrigue of where this film is going. Bustillo and Maury make sure the viewer is immersed in the both the fantasy and the horror.
Nods to Suspiria, Hellraiser, Halloween 3, An American Werewolf in London are all there (and some more!) along with a hint of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and as well as being chilling there is much humour injected for horror aficionados. There is so much going on here, the themes of youth, wealth, mother/daughter relationships, the supernatural, the body shocks and soul swapping, it is no surprise that atmosphere and imagery replace a clear narrative. Bustillo and Maury have created a vivid horror fairy-tale full of interesting visual twists that are entrancing to watch. Their creativity, knowledge and obvious love for the horror genre make them an exciting duo.
Extras: Trailer / Making Of / Interviews: Julien Maury & Alexandre, Marie-Claude Pietragalia, Catherine Jacob, Félix Moati & Jérémy Kapone