The Living and the Dead review by The Grim Ringler


While American filmmakers may lay claim to mastering many of cinema’s genres, there is one in particular though that other areas of the world have nailed and that’s the thriller. Sure, there are some fantastic American thrillers, no doubt about it but when it comes to the big creep out factor, you usually have to go overseas to get a real case of the chills. Europe in particular has been churning out some fantastic thrillers of late and THE LIVING AND THE DEAD is a perfect example of that.

A family of three (Father, Mother, and Son) live together in a vast tomb of a home which had once been an opulent mansion (guessing here, but, seriously, place is huge) but is now in steady decline. A long shadow lays over the family as the mother has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease that has left her bed-bound and reliant on her husband for everything. Along with a sick wife, the husband must take care of his grown son, who suffers from schizophrenia. The son wants nothing more in the world than to make his father believe he can take care of his mother, and to trust him but there is a constant battle of wills between father and son. With every rejection of his wishes, the son becomes more and more frustrated and angry, his anger pushing him ever closer to losing control. When the father must suddenly leave his wife and son unexpectedly the son believes he will finally get his chance to shine, so he stops taking his medication so he can better concentrate. At first he DOES do a good job of taking care of his mother and attending to her needs but in his desire to prove how responsible he is, the son starts acting irrationally. When the nurse that looks after the mother comes, the son locks all the doors and windows and hides from her until she leaves. No one is going to take care of his mother but him, it’s his job. As the days wear on though, the son becomes more and more detached from reality until he can barely tell what is a hallucination and what is reality. As the son’s mind slips further and further into madness he begins to neglect his mother and suddenly the hallucinations and fantasies have more hold on him than reality, and when the father returns, it may be too late to save either the son or the mother.

A cold and detached film LIVING is a slow burning thriller that really burrows its way under your skin. The characterization of mental illness is particularly chilling and it is the descent into madness that brings out the dread in the film. The film is very slow, there is no getting around it, but those who have a taste for thrillers should be well used to this sort of a build up and, whatever you are anticipating, when things really ramp up at the end, it has a heavy impact on the viewer.

The DVD has is another solid release from TLA Releasing’s Danger After Dark line and shows that they have a real eye for these dark thrillers. The film is very well made, with really solid direction and some very well done cinematography. As good as the actors are, the start of the film may well be the house itself, which brings a feeling of oppression that reminded me of THE SHINING. The DVD features a making of featurette, some deleted scenes, a terribly mediocre short film, and the usual trailers. A very effective film and definitely worth a viewing.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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