Directors: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo
Stars: Théo Fernandez, Damien Ferdel, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Béatrice Dalle, Francis Renaud
These dudes have earned a little disappointment.
Prior to Among the Living, French collaborators Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo made just two movies together, but one of them is Inside, the best horror film of the last ten years. Inside is the kind of uncompromisingly hardcore genre movie seekers like myself live for. Like horror/thriller aficionados must’ve pined for new John Carpenter films back in the ‘80s, I view Maury and Bustillo as this generation’s most exciting horror filmmakers. New movies from them feel like "Anaconda" for Barbies.
Yet, unlike Jay Z fans who swear Magna Carta Holy Grail bangs, I’m not a liar. When Maury and Bustillo's third movie, Among the Living, premiered at SXSW in March, I left the theater underwhelmed. Not to mention, repulsed by some WTF freakazoid's junk.
The co-directors' largely flawed attempt to make an Amblin-like film that’s also Inside-caliber brutal, Among the Living is all over the place. To contrast against the three doomed pre-teen protagonists, there’s Klarence. He's a tall, lanky, deformed albino whose father was exposed to hazardous radiation while serving in the military before Klarence's conception (At least that's what the murky opening sequence suggests). The audacious filmmakers eventually show Klarence in the buff, and it isn't pretty. Like his bald head, he's completely hairless, right down to his groin, where… Well, picture a stuffed mushroom, but instead of something appetizing, there's a tiny penis tucked into it. And then picture that stuffed mushroom running around and trying to murder little kids.
At SXSW, I was hoping for Stephen King’s It meets Inside, but Among the Living isn't that. Five months later, however, now that it's screening at Fantasia, I’ve grown to appreciate what Maury and Bustillo tried to do. Although there’s much lost in their French-to-American translation of Spielberg's '80s Amblin style, Among the Living is their demented effort to honor movies like The Goonies through horror. Yup, Klarence is their answer to Sloth—they'd just rather he killed Chunk.