If you work in the film industry join the Cinema Jam community Click here!

Categories: Movie Reviews

The thriller from French directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury has its moments, but won’t leave that much of an impression.

among-the-living-02

Among the Living is one of those movies. You know the type: generic, cliché-ridden, gory horror B-movie. Read the synopsis, watch the trailer – you know everything you need to know. It’s a slasher horror totally void of narrative surprise, one that will leave about the same impression on your memory as Jeb Bush’s campaign did on the American electorate. Nonetheless, I can’t say I was completely unimpressed, as it did have me chuckling and feeling nauseatingly disgusted at the appropriate moments.

Originally titled Aux yeux des vivants, Among the Living is a thriller from French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (the two are also directing the upcoming Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel Leatherface), and it originally premiered at South by Southwest way back in March 2014. Two years later, it’s finally getting a DVD release, though only hardcore horror fans need apply.

among-the-living

The film opens with a domestic dispute between a pregnant woman (Béatrice Dalle) and her husband (Francis Renaud), which concludes with the woman stabbing herself after her husband refuses to let her kill her (offscreen) son, who is apparently causing her turmoil because of some strange affliction or deformity. Distraught, the father drives off with his son, vowing to start some kind of new life with some very dark undertones. It only gets stranger when, about ten years later, a group of three rowdy young boys (Théo Fernandez, Zacharie Chasseriaud and Damien Ferdel) come across this father and his now-adult son, Klarence (Fabien Jegoudez), hiding out in an abandoned film set in the style of an Old West town while skipping school.

After they narrowly escape the odd father-and-son duo, who are now, unsurprisingly, ravenous serial killers, the truant boys are met with numerous other obstacles – furious parents, righteous police, annoyed babysitters – none of whom believe their tall tale of murderous psychopaths hiding out in a wild west ghosttown. They are, of course, proven right when Klarence shows up in one of the boys’ houses, beginning the usual one-by-one killing spree of all the kids and their families while they scramble idiotically trying to defend themselves and find a way to stop the killer.

Among-the-Living-Renaud

While all this is about as narratively original as, well, every other slasher film ever made, Among the Living is admittedly made watchable by a strong cast, best of whom is Fabien Jegoudez as the bald and, usually, naked serial killer, Klarence. He’s odd, gross, violent and menacing, never saying a single discernible line of dialogue and performing his cold executions with “aww no, he didn’t do that!” brutality. The kills never feel thematically linked to anything, and Klarence’s motivations are never properly explained, but they’re nonetheless well-choreographed and morbidly funny – if you can stomach them.

The child actors playing the three 13-ish-year-old boys are similarly excellent, adding much-needed texture to an otherwise flat film with perfect comedic timing and a sense of faux-maturity and mischief which carry us through the less eventful moments.

Besides that, though, there’s not much to recommend about Among the Living, though its short runtime means it won’t be too much of an energy drain. Here’s the deal: if you want a light, ridiculous, violent and, admittedly, sleekly-filmed slasher film to waste an hour and a half with, this might be your movie. Just don’t expect anything all that fulfilling, thought-provoking or logically coherent.

Among the Living is out now on DVD. 

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson is a writer and filmmaker born in England, based in Michigan, USA, and currently living in Enniscrone, Ireland. He writes about all things entertainment with a speciality in film criticism. He has been working on films ever since middle school, when his shorts "Moving Stateside" and "The Random News" competed in the West Branch Children's Film Festival. Since then he's written and directed a number of his own films and worked in many different crew jobs. Follow him on Twitter @GambasUK and look at his daily film diary at letterboxd.com/gambasUK.

Tags:
Posted on Mar 7, 2016

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked by *.

Recent Comments

  • […] Ray Harryhausen: The Father of Stop-Motion Animation – The ...
  • Avatar What about the 1934 American operetta ROSE OF THE DANUBE by Arthur A. Penn ...
  • […] LEXX Appeal: An Interview with Eva Habermann – The Spread [...

Top