Among the Living Review
In France, Horror cinema has been marginalised until the beginning of the 2000s which saw the apparition of movies (High Tension, Calvaire, Frontiers, Martyrs) and directors (Alexandre Aja, Fabrice Du Welz, Xavier Gens, Pascal Laugier) who now form an integral part of the cinema both in France and internationally (especially Alexandre Aja who directed the remakes of The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha and Maniac). Directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo were part of this new movement and after their visceral Inside and gothic Livide they have decided, with their third movie Among the Living, to continue their homage to the genres they like, in this instance, Stephen King’s Stand by Me and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Fleeing their last day of school, Victor, Dan and Tom, three teenagers, decide to go to an abandoned cinema studio in the French countryside. What they don’t know is that the place is now the home of a strange man and his son who will do everything to prevent them to reveal their secret.
Among the Living shares many similarities with the duo’s previous efforts (the story is confined to one day and night, some of the actresses (Béatrice Dalle, Chloé Coulloud or Dominique Frot), and the characters (children celebrating Halloween, pregnant women)) but beyond these recurring motives there is an apparent wish from them to create a coherent body of work based on the theme of childhood and in doing so by tackling some of Horror cinema’s taboos in relation to children. This gives their cinema an additional interest and elevates it above average Slasher movies.
Furthermore, Among the Living demonstrates once again the authors’ unconditional love for the Horror genre by using its references, playing with its codes and atmospheres but transposing it in the French countryside. In terms of atmosphere the movie; the authors definitely manage to create a particulate atmosphere relying on sophisticated light and beautiful scenery and it is not a surprise that they have been chosen to direct Leatherface for Lionsgate, another prequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dealing with a teenage Leatherface (the directors were previously also attached to, at separate times, Halloween II, the sequel to Rob Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's influential masterpiece Halloween as well as the remake of Clive Barker's Hellraiser (in both cases, they left the project)).
Their only problem really is related to the simplistic story and the characters, whose caricatural dimension is accentuated by the weakness of the dialogues. The result is a total lack of empathy for the main characters which unfortunately limits the movie to a skilful, but otherwise, empty stylistic exercise….
The copy of the movie I received only contained the movie without a menu or bonuses (and the Metrodome logo popping up regularly). Therefore, I cannot really comment on the quality of the disc which will be released on 7th March.