As Mrs Wilson (Catherine Jacob) a veteran home care worker shows new colleague Lucie (Chloé Coulloud) one of her strangest patients, Mrs Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla), a once famous ballet instructor who now, as a decrepit old woman, lives in a comatose state and relies on the care workers to stay alive. But when Mrs Wilson let’s slip to Lucie of a rumoured secret treasure somewhere in the house, she tells her boyfriend William (Félix Moati) that night and in a bid to change their lives, William persuades both Lucie and Brother Ben (Jérémy Kapone) to break into the house and try and find the treasure.
As a pretty ‘by the numbers’ haunted house flick, Livid manages to take us down a familiar rabbit hole with a fair amount of freshness. The setting and characters may not bode to well on originality but the actual story, especially that of the Mrs Jessel, is a creepy one told confidently – actually, maybe a bit too confidently at times. But it’s easy to say that these directors know how to make effective horror.
It does take quite a bit to get going but once it does, it’s relentless – and that’s only with the creepy imagery and supernatural edge, switching so quickly from normal to a 5.7 on the Richter scale of crazy that it leaves you trying to find your bearings, that swift change is a very welcome to a rather slow build up. Although, at times – like I mentioned before – there are instances that you feel like the filmmakers are trying a bit too hard to make it strange and certain aspects of the narrative begin to stop making sense. However, the visceral impact of its final act, with how beautifully disturbing it is constructed, wins through with insanity alone. The balance, or lack thereof, between crazy story and coherence is tough, but the craziness does have leave the audience with the desired unsettling effect, so I pretty sure Maury and Bustillo did their job well.
Now onto the disc, the 1080p transfer presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio looks good, and for a film that takes place mostly at night it manages to keep its clarity and image quality to a high standard throughout, plus the directors throw in a few lighting tricks here and there to spice everything up and make the film the visual treat that it is. As for sound, to be honest, I found it rather flat. Don’t get me wrong, everything is clear and crisp, but I didn’t think it made full use of the sound quality blu-ray has to offer.
There are some special features, which for a smaller foreign is always nice, but none of them really amount to anything much. A ramshackle 17 minute ‘Behind the Scenes’ is just some fly on the wall clips of the directors working, then you have a few short interviews with the filmmakers and main cast and to cap it off they also throw in a trailer for good measure. However, it’s good to see Studiocanal taking some care with their smaller releases.
It simplest terms, Livid is a good time. A flawed good time, but a good time nonetheless. The directors know how to shoot horror and have made a film with enough atmosphere to satisfy any genre fan. Never reaching the levels of great, therefore this can only be given a light recommendation.