Review: i-Lived

Franck Khalfoun's latest horror flick, i-Lived is in theaters on July 3rd. We've seen it. Read our review.

"Noooooo! Not leftovers
for dinner again!!!!"
It seems odd that though we live in the internet and smartphone era now, there aren’t very many films that incorporate those themes. This may be an attempt to keep a film from seeming dated, as things move quickly in the online arena, but to act like it doesn’t exist at all seems foolish as well. In i-Lived, director Franck Khalfoun (Maniac, High Tension) attempts to base a horror/thriller film around the concept of social media induced narcissism of the so-called YouTube generation.

We are introduced to the plight of Josh Fosse (Jeremiah Watkins), a down-on-his-luck young adult who is trying to make it big as an online app reviewer (on a video site that bears a striking resemblance to YouTube). The how and why of what makes the app work is a mystery unto itself and remains so for most of the film. While some of enigmatic situations are intriguing, the mediocre acting and confusing writing bring down the movie quite a bit. The idea is interesting on paper, but not so much in execution.

The depiction of internet culture comes off hokey and requires a lot of suspension of belief. The film does use some clever perspectives, such as cellphone cameras, internet videos and video calls but it falls into the tropes that always accompany such things. With smartphones and internet being so ingrained into our daily lives, it’s harder to overlook when things aren’t shown correctly—almost like the uncanny valley. I understand that some concessions had to be made for story purposes, but it kept taking me out of the film. The tone of the film feels off too, because Josh’s character is pretty silly (most of the jokes fall flat) but the rest of the film tries to have a serious vibe.

"Ever seen Requiem for a Dream?"
Some of the movie does work well, though, particularly the latter half of the film when the action ramps up. There are some truly sinister moments that could have had even more impact if the first part of the film had set them up better. The overall theme of self-discovery through online attention and validation is an interesting one, and I wish it had been explored more thoroughly in i-Lived. Khalfoun is known for his horror movie remakes, and this seems to be his foray into directing original material. While this film isn’t the best in his filmography, it does sport some of his stylish touches now and again, and that keeps it from falling into the B movie category completely.

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-Michelle Kisner