Movie: ** out of 5
Article first published as DVD Review: ‘I-Lived’ from Maniac Director Franck Khalfoun on Blogcritics.
French horror director Franck Khalfoun may have not had the best reception when he made his debut P2,
but oddly enough, it managed to get a three-star review out of the late
great Roger Ebert. So it makes sense how much better received his
sophomore follow-up feature Maniac was. Having never seen either of those — but with the hype aftermath of Maniac in tow — I went into his newest film I-Lived, with pretty high expectations.
Unfortunately, whatever acclaim he amassed from the gore hound crowd,
this is low budget horror filmmaking at its most tedious. Armed with
one of the least charismatic casts he could find, I-Lived could be retitled I-Bored. Something you can decide after it hits DVD on August 11.
(Jeremiah Watkins) is a video blogger who’s trying to make ends meet
reviewing apps online. We learn that his girlfriend has recently dumped
him and he can’t pay rent or his power bills. That is, until the new app
“I-Lived” finds its way to his phone, promising to make him the man he
wants to be.
Soon enough, the app sets him on a path to obtaining everything he’s
ever wanted — including a girl who’s out of his league and signing a
contract to become the face of a big Internet company. But just wouldn’t
you know it, the app starts controlling Josh’s life and makes him
complete increasingly sinister tasks — including, but not limited to,
picking fights and eventually, kidnapping. Now, Josh must decide between
having it all, or losing everything he thought he ever wanted if he
doesn’t do what the app says.
There’s absolutely no surprise who’s running the app, considering the
stakes it tries to raise on Josh as it slogs its way to the credits. It
shouldn’t come as a spoiler that a meeting with someone usually a
little more red-tinted and hooved shows up toward the end. This is been
there, seen that, of the highest order. While Maniac was
extremely gory there’s barely anything here and most of the violence
happens off screen. That may work for some horror films, but I-Lived sure could use something, anything,
to get audiences pulses racing. The DVD does at least include an
interactive app that you can use while watching the movie, that is if
you can keep yourself from doing literally anything else on your phone
while suffering through the runtime.
Watkins is a horrible lead, bland and two dimensional, only managing
to remind me why I refuse to watch low-rent app reviews. The reviewer is
never as entertaining as they find themselves. Not to mention, Khalfoun
(who also wrote the script) forces the following kinds of exchanges at
regular intervals: after Josh’s landlord asks if he can finally pay
rent, he asks her if that’s why he gave him an eviction notice. Um, YES! This is the kind of dunderheaded filmmaking to expect through the entirety of I-Lived, something you’ll wish you could be doing, instead of sitting through the movie.