Monday 31 October 2011



Perhaps the film for which hopes were highest at his year's Frightfest allnighter: any film describes as "Argento Meets Fulci" is obviously going to be more interesting as a film billed as "D'Amato Meets Winner" or "Bay Meets Olen Ray". Sadly it doesn't live up to the comparison: to my untutored eye there wasn't much overtly Argento or obviously Fulci in there, and in places it felt a little like Del Toro - but what do I know? This isn't to suggest that it's a bad movie or it's not worth seeing: it absolutely is, although there are moments that don't really work in its collision of fantasy and reality, and it would probably have flowed better if the more unreal visuals had been dropped as the film plays perfectly well without them.

Lucie is a trainee nurse looking after elderly patients in a small French seaside town. One of her patients is a centenarian, a former dance teacher now bedbound, permanently attached to an IV drip and alone in a rambling, crumbling mansion in which, rumour has it, she has a fortune in hidden treasure. That's enough of a temptation for Lucie to rope in her fisherman boyfriend and his brother for a night's undisturbed burglary. But cash and jewellery and gold bullion isn't what they ultimately discover - the old woman had shocking secrets locked away in that house....

The less you know of exactly what's in the house, the better: suffice to say you're unlikely to guess in advance. Livide (Livid in the English title) plays best with its three frankly unsympathetic but not entirely hateful leads exploring the darkened rooms, although since the house is miles from anywhere and the only occupant is in a coma in the bed upstairs, it's a mystery why they don't put some lights on. However, the more overtly fantastical visuals of things floating - whether people or, in one particular scene, the house itself floating in space on its own chunk of rock like a miniature in a snowglobe - don't seem to belong and these don't mesh as well with the real-world bulk of the movie as in, say Pan's Labyrinth (although I had to take two runs at that film to be happy with it bringing the different worlds together); I do think I'd have enjoyed it more if the whole movie had taken place in the "real world".

It's considerably less bloody than the directors' previous film Inside, which closed the allnighter a few years ago and played remarkably well for a foreign language film at four in the morning in an overly heated cinema. Livide is a lot less visceral, more emotional and poetic, and beautifully shot; I enjoyed it, but I do wish I'd enjoyed it more.


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