Among the Living

05/21/2018 08:17

Film: Among the Living (Aux yeux des vivants)

Year: 2014

Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

Writer: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

Starring: Anne Marivin, Théo Fernandez and Francis Renaud



This film I was turned on to by a podcast that I had listened to some time ago. I just now got around to seeing this French film. Originally I thought that this was part of the French Extreme movement, but it came out after the main group of those films. The synopsis for this film is three kids skip school in order to explore an abandoned film studio lot where they catch site of a woman being dragged across the lot by a masked man.

We start off on Halloween. Some trick or treaters come to a house and they are rebuffed by Jeanne Faucheur (Béatrice Dalle). She lives with her husband, Isaac (Francis Renaud). He is watching the news where there is talk of a terrorist attack and the results of it have some devastating long term effects. Isaac starts to feel weird when Jeanne attacks him. She is pregnant and goes upstairs to kill their other child, Klarence (Fabien Jegoudez). We don’t get a good look at him, but she stabs him with a knife. Isaac isn’t dead and she kills herself.

The film then shifts to a group of kids on the last day of school. Our main character is Victor (Théo Fernandez) and his two friends Tom (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Dan (Damien Ferdel). They all end up with detention and instead skip out of school. They get into more trouble before ending up at Blackwoods, which is an abandoned film studio. This is where they witness Klarence taking a woman underground. They follow him down where Isaac sees them. He then tells his son that he has to finish the job.

One way I realized that this film isn’t from the French Extreme is that most of the kills and violence from this point on is done off screen. I was slightly disappointed there, because I wanted a little more than what we got. The story itself is pretty good. There is something wrong with Klarence and the movie subtly tells us. The final confirmation is the one of the last images too. Isaac is the real villain here and I love how they downplay it until the end. I like how the film plays out, I just thought that it could have went a bit farther than what it did. It was just a tad too tame to be a slasher film too. I also thought the back-story for the three kids and why they act out was good. It makes sense why the police wouldn’t believe them and why they are ignored. A plot-hole that I noticed was how did Klarence know where all three of the boys lived? It makes sense for Victor, but not the rest.

Now despite this being subdued, the effects are pretty good. Julia (Anne Marivin) who is Victor’s mother gets attacked at one point as well as her boyfriend/husband Nathan (Nicolas Giraud). Both are pretty brutal and real. It is kind of confusing why we got see it in these two cases, but not for the rest. I thought the blood used in the film looked good.

The acting in the film was pretty good as well. I thought Marivin was good as the parent who is trying to get through to her son. She has two other kids and Victor is acting out. I thought Fernandez did good. His father has passed away so he is trying to deal with that. Renaud was solid. I thought it was a good choice to downplay his character even though he is really the true villain here. Jegoudez has an odd look to him and he fit the role that he played well. I thought the reveal of his character was different and added a dimension to the film. It was fun to see Dalle, as she is the antagonist in a French Extreme film Inside. The rest of the cast rounded out what the film needed well.

I did think there were some issues with the editing. I was wondering how much time has passed between the opening scene and when the kids get involved in this. I also partially blame the editing for cutting away from some of the deaths before we get to see anything. I don’t mind if you can’t make it look great, but still show us something. I will give that the film did build tension throughout and that was good. I thought the ending was worth what we got as well.

The sound design of the film didn’t really stand out to me. It doesn’t really hurt of help the film in my opinion as it never took me out the scenes. For the most part that is what I really look for. It just didn’t stand out to me.

Now with that said, I still think this film is above average. It did some really good things. The story does have a couple of plot-holes, but I thought for the most part it was interesting. We are given some information and then we get more as everything plays out. I thought the acting of the film was good as well. There weren’t a lot of effects used in the film, but the ones that were used I thought looked good. Along with the plot-holes, there are some editing issues for me as well. They kind of go hand in hand in my opinion as well. The sound design I’m neutral on, it doesn’t hurt the film in any way and fit the scenes, but it also didn’t stand out. I will warn you that this film is from France so I watched it on Shudder with French subtitles on. If that is an issue, I’d avoid this one then. If not this is a fun French slasher that I found to be slightly above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10