Livid

Horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic, unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images.

With:
With: Catherine Jacob, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Chloe Coulloud, Chloe Marcq, Felix Moati, Jeremy Kapone, Beatrice Dalle.

Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house of an evidently comatose crone, the pic is so eager to go over the top that, in the end, it doesn’t make much sense. Still, this Dimension Films pickup delivers enough stylish jolts and giggles to sustain the interest of discerning gore-hounds.

Early on, the movie’s 20-ish heroine (Chloe Coulloud), whose differently colored eyes give her a spooky look of her own, encounters an unconscious old woman (Marie-Claude Pietragalla) who breathes like Darth Vader from a gigantic mask strapped to her withered face. While being trained in the basics of elder care by the callous Mrs. Wilson (Catherine Jacob), Coulloud’s cash-poor Lucie learns that the bedridden Mrs. Jessel, a former dance instructor, has a fortune stashed away somewhere in the recesses of her dilapidated mansion.

Over beers on Halloween night, Lucie’s fisherman beau (Felix Moati) and his brother (Jeremy Kapone) persuade the young nurse to break into the house with them and look for the loot. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go according to plan for the trio. First, they accidentally lock themselves inside the pitch-black house. Then they’re driven nuts by fleeting glimpses of mounted animal heads, life-like mannequins dressed as ballerinas, and bizarre taxidermy tools. (Maury and Bustillo prove fond of false scares to a fault.) And then the group discovers that old Mrs. Jessel isn’t fully bedridden after all.

From here, “Livid” throws elements of a half-dozen horror subgenres at the wall to see what sticks, tossing in slashers, flesh-eaters, eye-stitching freaks, butterflies emerging from human mouths, a floating ghost-cum-angel, and Beatrice Dalle as Lucie’s mom. Exactly how all these terrors fit together isn’t clear, and the writer-directors don’t establish enough of a camp vibe to signal that the pic ought to be taken that way.

To their credit, though, Maury and Bustillo work wonders with castmembers young and (very) old, while the reliably sharp editing of mononymous Baxter cuts to the bone and beyond. Visual effects are, like the narrative, all over the place, but other tech credits hit the mark, including Raphael Gesqua’s pulsing score and multichannel sound work that more than compensates for what d.p. Laurent Bares prefers to keep in the dark.

Livid

France

Production: A Dimension Films release (in U.S.) of a La Fabrique 2 production, in association with SND -- Groupe M6, La Ferme! Prods., Plug FX. Produced by Verane Frediani, Frank Ribiere. Executive producer, Vincent Brancon. Directed by Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo. Screenplay, Maury, Bustillo.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Laurent Bares; editor, Baxter; music, Raphael Gesqua; set decorator, Marc Thiebault; costume designer, Martine Rapin; sound (Dolby Digital), Jacques Sans; supervising sound editor, Emmanuel Augeard; visual effects supervisor, Laurens Ehrmann; visual effects, Plug FX; special effects supervisor, Olivier Afonso; stunt coordinator, Emmanuel Lanzi; assistant director, Leonard Guillain. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 12, 2011. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Catherine Jacob, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Chloe Coulloud, Chloe Marcq, Felix Moati, Jeremy Kapone, Beatrice Dalle.

More Film

  • James Bond Skyfall

    Universal Wins International Rights to James Bond 25

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • In 'That Summer,' the Stars of

    In 'That Summer,' the Stars of 'Grey Gardens' Look More Unhinged Than Ever

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey'

    Film News Roundup: Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey' Set for July Release

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film

    China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film Bureau Chief

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • Morgan Freeman Sexual Harassment

    Morgan Freeman Pulled From Visa Marketing After Harassment Allegations

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • Boba Fett movie

    ‘Star Wars:’ A Boba Fett Movie Is in the Works

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Hollywood Reacts to Impending Harvey Weinstein Arrest: 'It's Been a Long Time Coming'

    Following their savage home-invasion shocker “Inside,” horror-buff co-helmers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo go for the gothic with “Livid,” an inferior thriller that nonetheless finds the French filmmakers unleashing a handful of memorably nasty images. Tale of a young nurse-in-training who gets menaced by vampiric ballerinas while seeking hidden treasure in the old, dark house […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content