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[TIFF '11 Review] ‘Livide’ Is a Beautiful Nightmare

Livide-2

For the first time in five years I was a witness to the rowdy Midnight Madness audience stunned to deafening silence. The theater carried this glazed look of shock that people display when they’re witness to a horrible accident. In fact, it was the exact opposite experience from when I witnessed the premiere of French directing duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s Inside back in 2007.

But to say Livid is a bad movie is a major fallacy, in fact, I’m pretty sure it will eventually grow on those who were expecting a bloodbath. It only took me two days to let it sink in…

While press has been minimal, the directors had previously said that the “fairy tale” was an homage to early Hammer and other classic genre films (there are multiple “winks” to classics such as Halloween and An American Werewolf in London), and made it clear that the audience should not expect heavy bloodshed. Their words couldn’t have been more true, as the film could be best described as a living nightmare with heavy influence by Dario Argento’s Suspiria.

My friend summed it up perfectly, realizing that the characters move through the world like they’re in a dream; they walk and interact with objects incredibly slow, they ignore various objects, and they never quite dwell on nor acknowledge weird occurrences (they move quickly to the next sequence as if nothing happened). To an audience it’s absolutely perplexing and unnatural, but by stepping back it’s easy to see that Livid is a nightmare translated to film (like something out of an Elm Street dream sequence).

But Livid‘s true gift is its creative madness, a film that’s drenched in imagery that will resonate with viewers for decades. It reminds me of that movie you’d watch through your fingers when you were 8 years old, revisit 20 years later, and fall in love.

And even though it’s not an ultra violent effort, there are still quite a bit of gore-filled sequences that’ll give the gorehounds a taste of what they desire. Instead, the duo focus on atmosphere and fear; Livid can be pretty f*cking scary – and it’s jam-packed with bizarre and terrifying oddities (like the robot ballerina who appears to come to life). Unfortunately, the movie needs to fight for the audience’s respect, which is completely lost in the finale that literally goes off the deep end. In fact, I’d say it straight up infuriated some people.

Livid is not going to make fans of Inside happy. In fact, I expect most of you to despise it with pure venom. But I implore you all to manage your expectations, shift your thinking, and go in with a clear mind. My hope is that you’ll find a place in your heart for this moody art house horror pic, one that’s sure to be trashed across the board.

Official Score