Writers/directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury finally follow up
their 2007 hit, "Inside," with another French horror film in "Livid."
While not a sophomore slump, it doesn't pay off on their debut's
promise. Most of that is because the new movie makes so little sense.
On one hand, that's good, because you're not quite sure what's going to
happen next. On the other hand, when stuff does happen, you may ask
Appealing young actress Chloé Coulloud is Lucie, a new home-care nurse
being trained by a jaded veteran of elderly diaper-changing (Catherine
Jacob, "Who Killed Bambi?"). On day one, the most memorable stop is that
of the Jessel mansion, where a 100-year-old lives in a vegetative state
by herself (credibility alert!) on the top floor. The pro tells the
newbie of a rumored treasure somewhere within the massive estate.
After sharing this news with her frustrated boyfriend, Lucie find
herself as part of a trio breaking into the place amid the witching hour
to hunt for the riches. They find something else. If a senior citizen
in an oxygen mask is the stuff of your nightmares, prepare to soil your
From there, the story unfolds in a manner audiences may not expect, but
"Livid" becomes less lucid. The nonsense speeds up as the pacing slows
to a near-crawl. I'm all for acts of the supernatural, but not without
some context as to what is occurring before our eyes. Bustillo and Maury
are unclear, perhaps in an attempt to be arty. The team pulls off some
outstanding visuals, but ghost stories cannot work on those alone.
The title "Livid" has no proper connection to the movie's events; it's
as if someone wanted a word that sounded like "Insidious." Now that's a
flick that yielded fright while containing all other necessary
ingredients. As for "Livid," let's chalk it up as a somewhat noble
misfire. —Rod Lott