As a fan of extreme horror, it takes a lot of gore to make me uneasy. Having no idea what’s going on, though… that’s freaky. I don’t like being in unfamiliar, uneasy situations, so films like the Saw franchise, Would You Rather? and Tusk – all about being forced into a position without knowing what’s going on or how to get out of it – I find them unsettling. Making its Canadian premiere this weekend at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario Canada, Rob Grant’s Alive falls into this category.
Directed by Rob Grant (What Doesn’t Kill You 2014) and co-written by Stratagem’s (2004) Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent, Alive starts off with two bloodied, unconscious people (Thomas Cocquerel: In Like Flynn 2018, Camille Stopps: Reign TV series) strapped to hospital beds in an abandoned sanitarium. As they wake up, we learn that they both have amnesia and are unaware of how or why they are there. In the guise of a doctor, their caretaker (Angus Macfadyen: Braveheart; Saw franchise) seems to mean them no harm. He’s attentive, caring and genuinely wants to see them recover. He stresses the importance of the small steps of rehabilitation, and why they must eat natural foods prepared from the garden. And his mantra? “Pain means you’re alive.”
But as days go by, it become apparent that maybe the good doctor isn’t everything he seems. Through flashbacks, we learn some of what the two patients remember, but it’s not enough to piece their lives together. The suspense continues to build, and as the blood flows, a turbulent and violent climax leads to a shocking ending.
The suspense and feeling of dread is what makes this movie so good. I was ready to write it off as the usual suspense-filled fare, a film that builds up the suspense but never actually delivers a satisfying climax. But then the ending happened. Wow… that is all I have to say. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor just to be able to write this review. Kudos to McCue and Vincent, you now have my attention. Alive deserves the spot it has at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival. The cinematography is fantastic, thanks to Charles Hamilton, and the Calgary scenery is just breathtaking. I would gladly traipse through the woods barefoot to take in that scenery. I was really impressed with this film.
Alive is still running the festival circuit, and there had been no news of a release date. You can be sure that we will let you know as soon as we find out. Be sure to check back with PopHorror for all your horror news, reviews and interviews!