Having heard that French writing and directing duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo are already working on a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel titled Leatherface which allegedly deals with a teenage chainsaw obsessive escaping a mental asylum I was more than a little intrigued to check out their latest film Among the Living but sadly after seeing it I am more than a little worried
Among the Living is a confused mess of a horror movie which wildly veers between disturbing and brutal visceral horror and childish 80’s kid’s adventure nostalgia a blend which works about as well as ice cream and feces and makes you feel the same way when you look at it.
Opening on a unnerving Halloween set night in a rundown house a heavily pregnant woman attempts and fails to murder her ex-army husband and their creepy deformed sick son before stabbing herself in the stomach murdering her unborn infant and slitting her own throat.
Cut to a sunny last day of school where naughty rebel Victor (Théo Fernandez) is told off for reading comics in class and gets detention deciding to skip classes with his playful pals to go exploring in the old abandoned film studio.
No you read the above paragraph right I didn’t mistakenly paste in a synopsis from our fictional sibling site www.LoveKidsMovies.com, that’s what happens in this mixed up mess of a movie and no it doesn’t work at all.
It just so happens that the secret playground of the trio of troubled children, each with their own annoying trite reason for being badly behaved little shit’s, is also where the mutant boy and his father have set up a new home and are busy kidnapping women to start a new fucked up family.
After a trouser wetting scare the whippersnappers run for their lives and the police and the evil dad realising they have been spotted dispatches his psychopathic son to kill them all because that’s the kind of nonsensical thing people do in this terrible film.
Queue more 80’s tributes, several urban legend clichés, a horrific torture scene, a very pale tall naked killer who looks like Nosferatu with a micro penis and lots of people not calling for help or escaping efficiently and you have the rest of Among the Living which now I have written it down sounds way more exciting and interesting than it actually is because it actually is a tiresome trite waste of time.
Many talented directors have brilliantly blended genres some far more disparate than here with amazing results most recently demonstrated in Alistair Legrand’s excellent and inventive The Diabolical which succeeds in every way Among the Living fails.
The issues with this cinematic garbage are many and varied but let’s start with the fact that it is extremely hard to understand who this film is aimed at. With the three central characters being obnoxious children and the constant transparent reference to 80’s kids adventure movies from Goonies to Stand by Me you would think this was aimed at children however the distressing realistic horror is something a child should never watch even if they are French leaving the adult viewer having a hard time associating with any of the heroes of the piece.
I am not saying an adult can’t empathies or see the world from a kid’s perspective but when the characters are all so unlikable and the tone so incongruous the spectator can barely get a hold on what is going on let alone start to inhabit the characters mindset.
What else is wrong with Among the Living I don’t hear you yell. Well everything actually from the poorly directed scares to the badly crafted baddie backstory to the boringly intentionally shocking brutality to the constant borrowing from other horror movies to the seen it before twist if you can even call it that there is very little to engage with at all and a lot to get annoyed with. And what’s with all the spitting I mean seriously!
Worst of all is Maury and Bustillo’s references especially to Spielberg which are so overstated they may of well have had a giant banner appear across the screen each time saying “THIS IS A BIT FROM E.T EVERYONE AREN’T WE CLEVER” oh wait now Victor’s off on his bike at night with his hood up “HERE IS ANOTHER BIT FROM E.T DID YOU NOTICE!”
If we are to base what to expect from Leatherface on Among the Living then I would expect 80 minutes of badly plotted and directed extreme violence featuring flawed unoriginal characters peppered with references to the Tobe Hooper original so blatant and grating even someone who hasn’t seen it will get them making you yearn for the good old days of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.