Friday, July 14, 2017

Film Review: Among the Living (2014)

Among the Living (Review)
France/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of French horror films like High Tension or Frontier(s), I think you'll like the graphic style of this film."

Three kids ditch school to explore an abandoned movie studio where they find a captive woman being dragged by a masked man...

Among the Living follows a group of kids who ditch school in order to avoid detention. They smoke, they set a farm aflame, then they explore an abandoned film studio. At the lot, They find a tow truck hauling a red car. And, in the car's trunk, they discover a tied and gagged woman. Before they can help her, they hear someone approaching—a masked person. This masked person carries the woman into an underground-level of the set. Of course, these kids are curious and courageous—they want to help the woman and find out more. Unfortunately, they're not able to help her and they find themselves in the crosshairs of a brutal killer. The rest of the film follows the kids in their own homes where the killer attacks them. The change in setting was initially disappointing since I wanted to see more of the abandoned film studio, but it ends up working fine. The ending, however, felt rushed and underwhelming.


Among the Living has a lot of great ideas, but it never really builds on them. Our serial killer, for example, has an interesting background/condition, but it ends up feeling superficial since the plot never truly delves into it. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the antagonist, barely anything is explained; we don't even find out why they're in the underground level of the film studio. (I understand that they were on the run, but a little more detail would have been great.) Hell, we don't even get a tour of the place! That doesn't mean Among the Living does everything wrong. Actually, it does more right than it does wrong.

Among the Living is a bloody slasher. I emphasize bloody because it has some very brutal death scenes. If you're a fan of French horror films like High Tension or Frontier(s), I think you'll like the graphic style of this film. It's also a suspenseful movie. There are some very tense and engaging moments that really keep you at the edge of your seat. Some of the scenes also felt like they were inspired by urban legends and I thought that was fantastic. There were those moments—"Mom, there's something under my bed."—that really got me going. And, although I wish there was more depth, the film is fast-paced because it doesn't delve deeply into its ideas.

The acting was fine from the entire cast. I was impressed by the child cast. The film was shot well. It's not a bad film to look at. The music was also good, matching the tone of its scenes. The practical special effects were great, too. The film was written and directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the filmmakers behind the amazing horror film Inside (2007). I don't think this film matches their previous work, but the filmmakers clearly have a talent in creating suspenseful and brutal horror. The writing could use some work to get rid of the lazy plot contrivances and build up the story more, but it's otherwise a fine effort.

Overall, Among the Living is a very good horror movie. It has its fair share of flaws, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't engaged and entertained from beginning to end. If you're a fan of brutal horror or slashers, this is for you.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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