Livid is the sophomore film from Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the creators of the previously-reviewed and utterly fantastic Inside. It’s another horror story, and one that centres itself thematically on notions of motherhood, though this is not to say it’s a retread of Inside; far from it in fact.
We meet our protagonist Lucie as she begins a day of training with and older lady, Mrs. Wilson as a home-visiting nurse. Their last visit is to an old mansion, whose sole occupant is in a coma. Mrs Wilson fills Lucie in on the house’s history, specifically that within its walls lies a hidden treasure.
When the working day is done, Lucie tells her boyfriend William about the house and its hidden riches, and he immediately wants to break in to find it. Along with another friend Ben, Lucie reluctantly joins in with the thievery, thinking that an enormous house with only one woman in a coma on the top floor is not a particularly risky venture. Turns out it is, and they find themselves dealing with a thirsty vampire and some pissed-off ghosts.
Whereas Inside dealt very much with reality, Maury and Bustillo have followed it up with a gothic haunted house story that’s inventive and fresh. Like Inside, it’s a relatively short film, and this is only because they know how to finish a film in due-course. It’s not a case of the film “not wasting a single second” because it does take its time to introduce us to the three main characters, and despite its short running time manages to work in back-stories, flashbacks and even some parallel dimensions without making any of it drag on too long or rushing too quickly.
I wouldn’t say it’s the same high-tension-and-pulse-pounding fare as Inside, but what we do get is a solidly spooky story with suitable moments of fright. There are moments of gore, and for the most part they’re done without too much overkill (save for one shocking moment that actually made me dry retch) . The success of the film is that it’s interesting, and that it takes some ideas we’ve seen done before and reworks them into something different and new. It also houses some outstanding visuals, without relying solely on eye-candy imagery, and there are moments of odd beauty in amidst the grisliness.
It’s actually to its strength that I can say none of the performances stand out as particularly amazing, because it’s a sort of unassuming film; everything’s done capably and professionally, but without it ever feeling pedestrian, which allows the film to wash over you at an easy pace. This also means the film surprises you with an unexpected amount of heart as the final scenes play out, and it’s nice to see a horror film end on a rare bittersweet note.
Livid isn’t going to rock your world, but it’s a nifty film that’s well-worth a look for anyone craving an interesting addition to their repertoire of horror films.