Bradford Film Festival reviews: Livid
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
The second of Leo Owen's Bradford Film Festival reviews...
Wetting our appetites, short film, Decapode Shock, acts as the perfect accompaniment to Bustillo and Maury's genre-defying “horror” film, Livid. From a surreal part-animated sci-fi revenge tale with a horse-riding half-man half-crab wearing a spacesuit, Livid misleadingly takes us into the more mundane world of a caregiver.
Trainee Lucie (Chloe Coulloud) is shadowing Catherine (Catherine Jacob) for ten days, accompanying her to clients' houses to help with their daily injections. After Lucie's mother committed suicide some eight months earlier, her dad is working nights and they're desperate for money. The fact her dad's new girlfriend is soon to move in just makes matters worse. When Lucie discovers there's apparently “hidden treasure” in the house of a client, she's convinced by her equally poor fisherman boyfriend to seek it out but uncovers more than she ever dreamed of.
Bustillo and Maury signpost imminent disaster before we even meet Lucie through their suitably eerie title sequence. Rotting corpses, stone crucifixes, a crashed car, a half sunk boat and missing posters all make the film's opening beach location far from appealing. Add to this the fact it's Halloween and the client Lucie is about to rob lives in a filthy old house on the moor and you've got the perfect horror setting.
Lucie's mentor, Catherine, is instantly unnerving treating clients poorly and piquing our interest by telling Lucie she's “not up to” a patient. Lucie, of course, stubbornly gets out of the car and we're introduced to the film's key location. The house and its contents are a mystery in themselves with padlocked doors, dead animals lining the walls and a doll's tea party complete with stuffed animals in clothes. Its corpse-like owner, Deborah Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla) has been in a coma for years, wanting to die naturally in her own house. She was once a famous ballet teacher, renowned for being strict and had a mute daughter who died young.
Livid's unsettling backdrop is quickly established ready to prompt an onslaught of extremely brutal and graphic events, including fingernail incisions and staple-gunned eyes. Close-ups of crucifixes intermix with visions of the dead, flashbacks, whispers and a particularly spooky torch-lit sequence to up the tension, culminating in a bizarre scene reminiscent of Howl's Moving Castle.
Cannibalism, ghosts, burglary, witchcraft, serial killers, magical mirrors, suicide and vampires... Livid undergoes a severe identity crisis, unsure of what it wants to be. Behind the locked doors, malevolent ballerinas and evil-looking dolls, there's a troubled family past Bustillo and Maury merely hint at, leaving plenty of unanswered questions. Whatever you decide, their creation is certainly puzzling, downright strange and most importantly, thought-provoking. The final battle may seem like an easy victory and there are several eye-rolling revival moments but for its sheer craziness Livid is worth a watch.
Director/writers: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Running Time: 88 mins
Starring: Chloe Coulloud, Felix Moati, Jeremy Kapone, Catherine Jacob, Marie-Claude Pietragalla
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