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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Review: Alive

Director: Rob Grant 
Screenplay: Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent
Year: 2020

A man and a woman wake up in a rundown hospital attended by an unstable and sadistic doctor. Both are seriously injured and neither has any memory of who they are or the reason why they are there. As they start recovering, the behavior of the doctor starts becoming more volatile, which leads them to try and escape the place as they also start uncovering clues to their pasts and why they are there.

“Alive” counts with a three-person cast, the two captives (Thomas Cocquerel; Camille Stopps) and the doctor, which helps that every character to be deeply developed. Although there is always uncertainty about the past and motivations of each character, throughout the movie we get to know their personalities and understand their actions. A part of the credit for making this happen belongs to the screenwriters for creating interesting characters and situations in which they exalt their characteristics, as well as the actors, who make a great job of delivering credible characters.

Not much time has to go on before director Rob Grant (“Harpoon”) and screenwriters Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent can show that everything in this movie is thought off to make the viewer suffer and be uncomfortable. The use of lights and shadows and the rundown look of the hospital set a tense atmosphere that is magnified by the unpredictable character of the doctor and what he is capable of doing, presented as a constant menace even when he is not on screen. What stands out in this aspect is the gore and the torture, always present, and that is impossible not to be affected by because of its level of realism and sadism.

One of the things that play against “Alive” is its thigh budget that undoubtedly limits much of what can be shown onscreen. Although there are no hesitations to show the gore and torture, it is evident that much more would have been shown if they had the resources to do so. Even though, based on talent, they manage to create an exceptionally uncomfortable movie that only leaves to the imagination what they could have done with a larger budget. 

Without being original in its concept, “Alive’s” plot is what unifies all its strengths in a cohesive way to end up being intriguing. However, it is not exempt from some problems, the most important one being the inconsistencies in some parts of the movie. Luckily, these are minor problems that are compensated for all the rest that is done well, as revealing information about the characters in dribs and drabs, keeping the viewer doubting about what’s really going on (all my theories were incorrect) and the great an unexpected ending. 

“Alive” is a torture cinema gem, with a level of sadism reminiscent of movies like “Saw” or “The Human Centipede”, mainly thanks to the work of the unstable and despicable antagonist. The movie in uncomfortable and bloody, but at the same time intriguing and doesn’t allow the viewer to take its eyes off the screen. The plot keeps you guessing all the time about the motivation of each character and the reason why these events happened until the unexpected ending that is simply brilliant.

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