Today: May 24, 2024


French horror has been going through something of a renaissance in the last decade.

French horror
has been going through something of a renaissance in the last decade.
Collectively branded the New French
Extremity, transgressive films like In
My Skin (Marina de Van)
, Trouble
Every Day (Claire Denis), Baise-moi (Virginie Despentes & Coralie Trinh
and the work of Gaspar Noe
(Irreversible, Seul contre tous)
, visceral, confrontational, taboo-busting,
urgent films that push the boundaries
of acceptability, have divided audiences and critics alike, blurring the lines
between arthouse and horror and opening the door for the likes of Xavier Gens, director of Frontiere(s) and The Divide, Pascal Laugier, whose
stunning Martyrs is probably one of
the most disturbing films almost none of you have seen, and Julien Maury &
Alexandre Bustillo
’s brutal, unrelenting, audacious Inside.

An expectant mother battling a scissor-wielding psychobitch
from Hell (Beatrice Dalle, who
else?) for her baby in a bleak, gory, disturbing, poetic tale of fetal
attraction, Maury & Bustillo were always going to find it difficult to
follow the grueling intensity of home-invasion bodyhorror Inside. While it’s,
thankfully, not as harsh, brutal and downright nasty as Inside, their latest dark delight Livid will still shock you out of your skin with its tale of lost girls,
dark secrets, ballet scenes far more brutal and nightmarish than anything you
saw in Black Swan and antagonists
who’d happily tear the throats from R-Patz,
K-Stew and the rest of the sparkle

Still haunted by the unexplained suicide of her mother (Beatrice Dalle, who else?), young Lucie
(Chloe Coulloud) takes a job as a
trainee carer/home-help under the watchful eye of the gruff but friendly Mrs
Wilson (Irene Jacob) who she assists
on home visits to their elderly patients.
The last stop of the day is the foreboding mansion of ballet teacher
Madame Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla),
a frail, comatose old woman whose only daughter mysteriously died many years
before. While seeing to the
bed-ridden old woman’s personal needs, Mrs Wilson lets slip that somewhere in
the sprawling, labyrinthine house is rumoured to be hidden a priceless
treasure, one that Mrs Wilson has sought but never found.

That night, Hallowe’en night, Lucie,
boyfriend William (Felix Moati) and friend Ben (Jeremy Kapone)
return to the mansion under cover of darkness and break in, intent on finding
the treasure and stealing it for themselves. But the treasure isn’t what they thought it was and as
Madame Jessel’s darkest secrets are revealed, Lucie and her friends find
themselves fighting not only for their lives but their very souls…

In conjuring up a hallucinatory
dreamscape of half-glimpsed terrors and nightmarish, beautiful imagery, of
clockwork ballerinas and ancient crones, dead mothers and damaged daughters,
Maury & Bustillo have succeeded in creating a horror fantasy that haunts
rather than disturbs, an adult fairytale influenced as much by Dario Argento
and Guillermo del Toro as by the Brothers Grimm. Don’t worry too much about logic, Livid
is a film to surrender to and experience.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email:

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