AMONG THE LIVING (2014)
Written and Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
French Language with English Subtitles
It’s the last day of school before the summer break and three teenage boys decide to skip class after each receiving an hour’s detention. After burning down a barn belonging to a local farmer, the boys move on to explore a dilapidated, abandoned film set, Blackwoods. Whilst they’re wondering around the buildings, they discover a woman tied up and gagged in a boot of a car and soon the man who put her there arrives to claim her. After spotting the kids, he chases them away and fearing for their safety and that of the woman, the three boys tell the police what they witnessed. When the police don’t find a single thing and with the boys’ track record of criminal activity, they assume its another one of their latest lies and pranks. Unfortunately for all the lads involved, their presence at Blackwoods has put not only their lives in danger but also that of their families.
Horror thriller AMONG THE LIVING opens with scenes of violence from none other than a pregnant Beatrice Dalle so it’s no surprise to learn that the two men behind this movie are responsible for such horror hits as Inside and Livid. With a four year old child already with deformities, thanks to her husband’s exposure to chemical warfare during the war, the likelihood that Jeanne’s (Dalle) second offspring should suffer the same fate seems more than probable and this lady just can’t take it anymore. Her actions cause the father and son to go on the run. Away from prying eyes, they’ll hide among the living and this is exactly where our trio of troublesome teens bump into the misfit father and son with disasterous consequences.
The build-up of the film is done rather well and feels as though we’re watching a coming-of-age film, a la Stand By Me, but once the horror element is introduced and we actually see the disfigured son in all his glory, it soon becomes a familiar experience. Lace this with tremendous strength and violence and there’s nothing much here that we haven’t already seen before. However, the build up to one death in particular, that in the Seeley household, is rather special because it hardly shows anything at all. It reminds me of the old school horrors and because of that, it feels refreshing. You don’t always have to show blood squirting everywhere or faces being sliced off. For me, the moment that young Seeley realises that there’s an object within his pile of plushy toys that shouldn’t be there is the sheer highlight of the movie.
The performances are fantastic from all involved, particularly from the youthful cast, and there’s some genuine moments which will shock and disgust you to the core. Though the story is different to Inside, that particular gruesome, in-your-face style is present and no matter how hard you try not to look at the atrocities occuring on-screen, you’re forced to endure it.
Overall, the story featured in AMONG THE LIVING isn’t a terribly strong or convincing one which leaves the film more of a horror show or display of intense violence than a captivating horror tale.