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The story centers on Lucie, a young in-home caregiver trainee who on her first day of work travels around with veteran caregiver Wilson, who has seen it all and seems tired of the daily routine. The final stop of the day is at the home of Mrs. Jessel, an infamous ballet instructor who now lies comatose and alone in her decaying mansion. When Lucie is told by Wilson of a treasure allegedly located in the home her interest is piqued. Later in the night while drinking with two of her friends she tells them of the treasure and a plot is devised to break into the home and search for the loot.
To say the least, things do not go as planned and the three intruders soon learn that all is not as it seems and that someone in the house is quite alive and active. The directors of Livid have a great 2/3 of a movie here. The nods to Argento and the Giallo genre are evident and well executed as are the jump scares lying in wait around each corner. The time given to character development and mood are appreciated and serves to ratchet up the tension. Sweeping camera shots and set designs further enhance the sense of dread. The Jessel mansion is the type of setting that exudes menace even before stepping inside. With a sub-plot involving the recent passing of Lucie’s mother thrown in this adds a dream-like state to certain scenes and further spirals the lead’s descent.
Coming from the director’s of a film like Inside over the top violence will probably be expected but the gore is dramatically toned down here and it serves the movie well, showing that the director’s can craft terror without having to lean on past tools. Where Livid falters is the final act. There are some beautifully horrific and disturbing parts in the final third but an added plot point detours the movie and leads to a finale that comes off as unintentionally comedic and had me laughing. This change in tone and direction really takes the viewer off track and not in the desired way. Maybe something is lost in translation; this shift might have a meaning in other cultures or areas of the world.
However, as a states-side viewer it took what could have been a solid love letter to several horror sub-genres and threw in a side of fantasy therefore negating what should have been a darker ending that leaves the viewer a bit stunned. As opposed to wanting to re-watch the final act of Livid I constantly questioned why the final ten minutes were even included. As a whole Livid is a bold move for Bustillo & Maury and they deserve to be commended for it. Beginning their careers with a film that reached classic status and bravely avoiding the trappings of retreading the same material or remaking a classic such as Hellraiser for a follow-up was obviously no easy task. You can tell that they both put their all into this production and it shows in the finished product.