original title: Aux Yeux des Vivants
Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Starring: Anne Marivin, Theo Fernandez, Francis Renaud, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Damien Ferdel
Three young friends decide that they deserve an early summer break and skips the last day of school to rather spend some time together and have fun. They find an abandoned studio lot called the Blackwood Studios were they come across a man dragging a kidnapped woman out of a car.
The young boys try to find a way to rescue the woman, but they are spotted before they are able to do anything. They run away and to their dismay they are not believed by the authorities and are sent home instead, now in trouble themselves of being the target of the deranged kidnapper.
Among the Living is the newest project of the French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Together they have delivered the highly praised Inside and the well received Livid. So expectations was quite high for this new film and sadly it didn’t live up to it.
The film starts out like it is about the friendship of the three young boys, which consist of the Victor, Dan and Tom. They have natural chemistry and it sets up the rest of the film nicely, but when the second part starts it becomes a home invasion slasher film instead with the boys separated in their own homes with their family instead of fighting the evil together.
The switch wasn’t expected for me and it kind of made the first half of the film a bit unnecessary as it could rather have focused on one of the families instead. It didn’t work as a surprise element either and feels like wasted time. And since it decided to go into slasher mode it could have used way more blood and gore to the death scenes. An element that you would expect the French filmmakers to actually deliver on, but which they do not.
The duo hasn’t lost their touch of delivering striking images though, but it is not enough to make it stand out from being anything more than a mediocre movie experience. They should definitely have used way more time on the script to improve on the story. The antagonist force of the film didn’t do much for me either. The creature child is freaky and everything, but there’s not much more to him than a strange appearance and a thirst for blood.
There is also some tension, but it just isn’t the same without characters that the audience cares about. The scare scenes are also very formulaic, we have people looking under their beds, in their closets and running upstairs instead of running outside. I should also note that there is a fun nod to Inside in this film, I’m curious to see if more people will spot it.
Among the Living is a disappointing effort by the French duo Bustillo and Maury. I hope they will redeem themselves with their next project so we can still count on the two as promising filmmakers in the world of horror.