Liam Walters reads the subtitles of this art-horror film…
So I haven’t really watched too many international horror films before, and I can see how it may put people off more than other subtitled film genres may do. A horror film is designed to frighten you, to allow you to be so absorbed into a story that you can’t help to start getting anxious, this is why horror films such as The Innkeepers, Paranormal Activity, and other such horror films. They invite you in and start off slowly, allowing you to relax into the film before starting with the scares.
Livid (Livide) manages to subvert this because it is, in part, an art film, as well as a supernatural horror. The scares aren’t so forward and announced, and instead the anxiety of the piece comes at you over the course of the film, whilst developing the story and characters in a way that other horror films may not be able to. In fact, to go off on a slight tangent, in Joss Whedon’s ‘Cabin in the Woods’, which could also be called: ‘Horror Deconstructed: The Movie’, we see that the monsters of the piece were chosen from a selection of wide variety of generic horror monsters, and are given only a few lines of backstory.
In Livid, we see the monster of the piece developed in a way we rarely do in British or American horrors. Sometimes this works to the films advantage, such as with the aforementioned Paranormal Activity series, which throughout the first film kept the secret behind the supernatural creature mostly a secret, only really stating that it’s a demon. This works well for the series because the less we knew of the demon and its reasons behind terrorising Katie (the protagonist). As the series goes on, especially in the third instalment, we find out more about the demon and its reasons, and I felt this somewhat ruined the scariness of it, because something that terrorises for no reason is much scarier than something which does have reasons, because it then becomes more relatable.
Livid’s character development works well because you’re supposed to make that connection with the ‘monster’. The ending justifies the means behind why they decided to develop the vampire, more than one of the three protagonists. But I feel as though I’ve spoken enough behind the developments of the characters, but maybe not enough of the characters themselves and the plot in general, so here we go.
Livid’s plot is a relatively simple one. After hearing of an old woman’s fortune during her first day working as a home nurse, Lucy with her boyfriend; William and his brother; Ben, decide to break in and swipe the treasure. The treasure belongs to an old woman who lives in the house, although in a cerebral coma, named Jessel. However, shortly after breaking into the house, weird things begin to happen, and the three soon realise they are unable to leave… So far, so clichéd, correct?
The film begins to develop more from there, as we learn that Jessel isn’t in as much of a Coma as first thought, and that her long thought to be dead deaf daughter, is actually a vampire, who was raised by the strict Jessel, a former dance instructor. I won’t go into much more because it’s well worth going to see the film yourself.
My only criticism, which seems to be one shared by a number of reviewers, is that the film did not end well, in such a way that it neglected to really explain the reasoning behind the actions at the end of the film. Some of that is down to subtle elements that the more genre savvy viewer may see, whilst casual viewers may miss it entirely. However, some important details were just left unexplained; ruining what may have been a great story.
There is an English-language adaptation in the works, being written by David Birke, but this is still very early in development and no director has been chosen. Other horror films that have been adapted for English-language viewers have often lost part of their magic (example: [Rec]), so my feelings are mixed about this adaptation. The film works in French because the art-genre nature of the film, whether that would work as an American, would seem more unlikely.
If you like your fast paced fright-fests, then this isn’t the film for you. It runs at a slower pacing, and the horror and gore factors aren’t too strong. However, if you enjoy a more developed story with supernatural horror elements, and don’t mind subtitles, then this is a film that I can recommend. The slower-paced and more developed storyline may alienate more hard-core horror fans, and for those who may enjoy it will still have to face a disappointing ending.
Follow Liam Walters on Twitter at @liamawriter
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