Livid Blu-ray Review
Coming in at 2.4:1 and with a 1080p AVC encode, Livid somewhat under-delivers on expectation. Though beautifully shot, with some outstanding imagery and cinematography, particularly in the first act, it fails to impress in a big way technically.
Grading is handled with a deft touch. Colouring falling on the cooler side with lots of blues lending a feeling of winter to the blustery seaside town, and dark browns and yellows for the old decaying mansion scenes, though these are largely set at night. Foliage has a natural look to it and doesn't seem overly treated. Skin tones are relatively de-saturated, though not to the point of looking false. This is undoubtedly a creative decision given the movie's washed out daylight palette. Detail is reasonable throughout, and there's no nasty edge enhancement artifacting.
Blacks are not as deep as I'd hoped for, at times appearing to have more of a grey look to them, something that isn't helped by the contrast much. The blacks tend to be quite noisy, and this is particularly noticeable in the first scenes with Mrs. Wilson and Lucie doing the house visits. Shadow detail suffers as a result of this, but things seem to improve on the black levels later on thankfully, as the second and third acts are predominantly in the dark.
Overall, nothing too disappointing here – a fairly average visual presentation for Blu-ray these days.
Disappointingly, for the UK release of Livid, we only get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 track. Whilst you might be thinking I've lost the plot a bit describing the DTS flagship format as disappointing, it's only because the french release got a DTS-HD Master 7.1 track. Though Im a bit of an audiophile, I must admit that I haven't been an adopter of the additional rear channels that 7.1 offers, but nonetheless, it seems odd that they would drop two channels deliberately. I did a little digging, but couldn't find any info as to why.
Nevertheless, the 5.1 surround presentation on offer here is pretty good. Dialogue is clear and precise, and seems to make use of the high frequency range really well. I was pleased with this, because it's in the high frequencies that the high quality audio really shines, and I found it refreshing not to have all the dialogue eq'd to hell to add punch.
Foley is excellent, and delivers exactly the right kind of mood for each scene. The breathing apparatus makes an eerily frightening sound that fits in perfectly with the visuals of Jessell in her bed in a coma. Tension is built up well throughout the movie, and sound effects utilize the surround array pretty sparingly, but well. LFE is present where necessary without being overbearing. Adding a nice thump to the moments you're supposed to jump. I feel an obligation to mention the music which is composed by Raphaël Gesqua, a composer I've actually had the privilege to meet, as he has worked on video games previously (plug done, name dropped), and despite my biased position, he has delivered a decent effort here. Ok, it's horror movie music 101, and it doesn't present anything too out of the ordinary, but it adds to the atmosphere well enough.
All in all, the audio presentation is worthy of some acclaim.
There isn't a lot on offer by way of extras here, but what's there is interesting enough. All in French and all subtitled reasonably well.
Making Of Featurette - An interesting look at how some scenes were shot. Lots of footage of Bustillo and Maury coaching the actors.
Interviews: Julien Maury & Alexandre, Marie-Claude Pietragalia, Catherine Jacob, Félix Moati & Jérémy Kapone each give their take on the the movie and what it's about, and discuss their characters in depth. Quite an interesting watch
Livid, the second offering from the French directorial duo that gave us Inside, is an adult fairytale shrouded in a classic Hammer Horror setting and narrative. Though not a bad movie, it falls slightly short of the mark in terms of delivery, often telegraphing its intentions far too obviously. Moving away from the popular shock-horror style of French cinema in the genre, it just doesn't manage to do enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, but with a surprising twist, it recovers well, and in the end does itself some justice.
A slightly lack-lustre picture, but a decent audio presentation make this Blu-ray a pretty decent purchase, especially for fans of the Genre Film and of foreign language horror movies. All in all, not great, but better than average.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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