★★★★ Directed by: Rob Grant Written by: Chuck McCue, Jules Vincent Starring: Thomas Cocquerel, Camille Stopps, Angus Macfadyen Grimmfest Film Review by: Chris Olson
A thrilling story from writers Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent, Alive was a pulse-racing entry into the Grimmfest Film Festival 2018 lineup. Combining a captivity plot with a psychological thriller atmosphere and elements of torture horror, director Rob Grant delivers a bold and intriguing genre movie.
Thomas Cocquerel and Camille Stopps play a man and woman who wake up bound to hospital beds in a seemingly abandoned sanitarium, with plenty of cuts and scrapes to boot. Their only company is a sadistic yet well-spoken caretaker (Angus Macfadyen) and his growling Doberman. Their bafflement turns to unease as they discover that not only do they have to endure the cruel ministrations of their illustrious host, whose charming bedside manner is at complete odds with his use of twisted remedies and violent temper, they must also cope with a black hole in their memory where their identities used to be. Without the strength or know-how to escape, or the ability to fully recall who they even are, this appears to be one helluva road to recovery.
With a show-stopping performance from Macfadyen, the success of Alive utterly hinges on his enigmatic portrayal of the nurse-cum-fatherly figure whose polarity of emotions make him a captivating on screen presence. The numerous attempts he makes to “heal” his patients are completely engrossing, delivering his almost wistful dialogue with such panache that audiences will be utterly spellbound. Instead of the tedious mad-scientist approach, Macfayden’s character is far more personal, even poetic at times, and his delicate movement between love and outrage is marvellously nuanced.
Above: the official movie trailer for indie film Alive.
Cocquerel is excellent as the kidnapee with a penchant for disobedience, his tension with his captor is transfixing and the performer does well with the physical demands of the role.
Stopps is brilliant in the role of kidnapee with a penchant for survival. The conflict her character experiences during numerous points in the movie is well-delivered.
The themes and atmosphere of Alive are too familiar for any self-respecting horror viewer to find mind-blowing. This story has been done countless times in film and TV narratives, and given the plot’s limited locations, a dozen or so “captivity” films come to mind when watching. That being said, Grant’s delivery of this movie is immaculate and audiences will find few faults to pick up on. The chemistry he elicits between the performers is exceptional and the thrilling final third has a jaunty pace that will get fingernails firmly driven into chair arms.