Saturday, January 26, 2013
**This review contains spoilers**
Lucie (Chloe Coulloud) is starting her first day of training for a house nurse job. Mrs. Wilson (Catherine Jacob) trains Lucie, and after giving a simple shot, Lucie starts to gain some confidence. But things change, when Mrs. Wilson makes the final stop on Lucie’s first day tour. In a rustic mansion, Deborah Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla) is still in a coma. Forced to rely on a respirator machine, Deborah is an elderly woman, who’s alone, and she’s a former ballet teacher. According to Mrs. Wilson, Deborah’s daughter, Anna (Chloe Marcq) died at a young age, and Mrs. Wilson’s folktale of Deborah’s rumored buried treasure catches Lucie’s attention.
Lucie tells her boyfriend, Will (Felix Moati) about Deborah Jessel’s buried treasure, and Will comes up with a plan to steal it. Lucie refuses to participate in Will’s planned heist at first, but Lucie’s father continues to show no remorse for her mother’s death, and her father’s infatuation with a new girlfriend sickens Lucie. Stealing the treasure could provide a better life for Lucie and Will, and the treasure would give Lucie the ticket of freedom from her father, so she agrees to lead Will’s heist.
On Halloween night, Lucie, Will, and their friend, Ben (Jeremy Kapone) team up to steal the treasure from Deborah’s mansion. But when they finally break-in, a series of strange events complicates the planned heist. Deborah disappears, and the friends learn a shocking secret after they find Anna’s preserved corpse: the Jessel’s are vampires, and instead of finding treasure, Lucie, Will, and Ben unknowingly stumbled into a deadly trap.
Kapone and Moati deliver a pair of decent performances, but the women steal the show here. Coulloud is a solid leading lady, and Jacob adds a spark to her deceitful character. Pietragalla is a very convincing cold-hearted and ruthless bitch in Deborah’s flashbacks as a ballet instructor and mother. Plus, she’s more menacing and evil during the present storyline, and the creepy make-up really pulls the withered vampire look together. And she doesn’t speak one word in this film, but Chloe Marcq did a wonderful job of using body language and robotic-like movements (her dance scene on the life-sized ballerina music box is unreal) to express her emotions.
So Lucie, Will, and Ben are trying to find treasure. Well, they found a treasure, but it’s not the type of treasure they hoped for, because Jessel’s mummified daughter is her greatest treasure. That’s right, a giant key around Deborah’s neck activates Anna’s life-sized music box, and of course, Anna awakes from her deep sleep after one turn of the key. Yeah, it might sound like a corny twist to most people, but I really enjoyed it. After discovering Anna’s music box, the devastated “what the fuck are we going to do now???” reaction from Will was just priceless.
They were so sure about the key. It was going to unlock the treasure, and once they found the treasure, Lucie, Will, and Ben wouldn’t have to worry about money for the rest of their lives. But they didn’t find money, gold bars, or jewels. It’s a genuinely surprising twist, and you can feel the panic and devastation from Lucie, Will, and Ben.
I enjoyed Livid, but this film has a few annoying question marks. During a flashback, Anna attacks and kills one her of mother’s ballet students by drinking her blood. She runs outside during the daytime heat, and of course, vampires and sunlight don’t mix. Anna is burned by the sun, but Deborah doesn’t suffer any damage, when she goes out to drag her daughter inside the mansion?
During the heist at Deborah’s mansion, Ben is teleported into a secluded room. Here, Ben suffers a brutal and fatal beating from three zombie-like bridesmaids or ballerinas (I‘m not sure), who suddenly appear out of nowhere? Where did the women come from? Who are they working for? Are they zombies or vampires? I know this sounds like a nitpicky complaint, but Ben’s beating is one of the many “huh?” moments in this film.
At the very end, Lucie kills Deborah with Anna’s help. Anna and Lucie walk out into the morning, and the sunlight doesn’t burn Anna? Okay, earlier in the film, Anna suffers some nasty burns from the sunlight, but at the end, she walks out into the sunlight, and NOTHING happens? But it’s not over yet. Lucie and Anna walk to the edge of a cliff, while holding hands. Anna lets go of Lucie’s hand in an attempt to commit suicide, but instead, Anna literally flies towards the sun? And the sun HEALS her burn wounds! I already reached the point of questioning Livid’s logic at the halfway mark, but this was just ridiculous.
Also, during the ending, they show an outside shot of the mansion during the night. And Deborah's mansion apparently jumps into some alternate universe at night? Seriously? What’s the point here? I’m guessing the alternate reality stuff is suppose tie up the loose ends for Lucie, Will, and Ben not being able to escape the house at night. BUT, if that’s the explanation, then breaking in should’ve been impossible, right?
With all that said, Livid was an enjoyable horror film for me. Some people will just see a pretentious art house bore, but Livid provides a nice mix of fantasy and horror. The nighttime scenes at the mansion are loaded with some excellent tension, and Livid features a good amount of bloody and disgusting gore.
Yeah, the ending is romanticized, over the top, and kind of silly. Plus, Lucie, Will, and Ben’s reasoning behind stealing the treasure is cliched. Lucie is broke, and still living at home with her father. Will hates his life as a poor fisherman, and his overbearing father/boss won‘t tolerate any slacking. Ben is a waiter for Will’s mom (she owns a bar/restaurant), and the “we want a better life” from rags to riches story has been done to death. But Livid still packs a powerful punch. It starts out slow, and you’ll have to follow the subtitles (Livid is a French language film), but once Livid kicked into high gear, I couldn’t pull myself away from the screen.
And I can’t forget about Livid’s Halloween nod! Before they make the trip to Deborah’s house, Will spots a group of trick-or-treaters wearing Halloween masks, and Will said “happy, happy, Halloween, Silver Shamrock!” This one line pays homage to Halloween III: Season Of The Witch. Silver Shamrock is the name of Conal Cochran’s (the main villain) evil mask company in Halloween 3, and Will’s line of dialogue is used in the Silver Shamrock Halloween commercials. It’s a great geek-out moment for any Halloween fan, and I loved it.
Final Rating: 7/10