Directed by Brandon Scullion
To follow a movie down that slippery-slope of time consumption in order to get to the film’s payoff can either bring great rewards to the viewer, or leave you with that empty feeling, and in the case of director Brandon Scullion’s creepy Live-In Fear, I unfortunately was left out in the cold in just my skivvies.
The plot takes four friends with eroding relationships and delivers them to a picturesque condo community in the snowy Utah mountains in an attempt to reconcile and mend old wounds. This immediately struck me as odd, simply due to the notion of myself NEVER wanting to spend some quality time with feuding friends in a wooded locale surrounded by mounds and mounds of frozen precipitation, or maybe it’s just me thinking out loud again. One particularly oddball character is Seth (David Lautman), who on the ride up to the condo doesn’t want ANYONE touching his suitcases in the trunk – okay, I can fully get behind the “unattended baggage-thing” – I can completely respect that, if that was indeed the case, but you see Seth has murdered his mommy, and chopped her up into a nice assortment that he plans on burying in the snow upon arrival.
He continually has visions of her on the getaway, and he hopes that they will cease once he commences with the low-rent-style internment. The three remaining passengers have no inclination of his wrongdoings, simply believing that his mom passed away due to unknown causes, and frankly they act as if they couldn’t care one way or the other. The first sight viewed at the community is that of an elderly groundskeeper, who utters the obligatory “you shouldn’t be here” to the group..and that request is immediately shrugged off like passed gas in the breeze. If the aforementioned “Crazy Ralph” warning wasn’t enough to dissuade the foursome from sticking around, then it’s gotta be the impromptu meeting of the condo’s freaky co-managers, right ? WRONG.
The remainder of the socially-divested clan includes boozehead Eric (Chris Dornan), who would probably slam down a vat of nail-polish remover if you left it laying around – heavy-cutter Molly (Arielle Brachfeld), and Becca (Sarah Greyson). After a long spell of dialogue and semi-nightmarish imagery, differing incidents begin to befall our malcontented group of four, some involving possession, while others get offed in gory fashion, but one thing connects them all, and that is confusion. For a film with a short running time (80 minutes), you feel as if you were dropped off a mile short of your exit on the plot line superhighway with no GPS. At one point, Seth’s mother (you remember her ? – the one in pieces ?) returns to the condo with the girls inside, and they ostensibly chalk it up to a non-questionable factor that the woman who “unknowingly died” has returned to hang out, and she’s allowed to stay, no questions asked.
However, it’s what scares the aggregation the most is the tormenting factor at play here – we have a mishmash of Evil Dead, The Thing, and The Shining qualities to look fixedly upon. Amongst the confusion, we have a demented religious denomination practicing in the woods, complete with sacrificial stones, inverted crosses, poisoned drinks, and the need for a blackened-heart so that a demi-god may take control of all things. The feelings of doom are omnipresent at the community, and Scullion gives the movie an ethereal look with his visuals – misty shots provide angelic opacity to the viewers backdrop. Performances are standard, with Brachfeld’s job as Molly delivering the creepiest role in the entire film, with her dulcet-toned voice bringing bedeviled lunacy to an apex.
Overall, Live-In Fear isn’t for the casual horror fan who wants to push “play” and get right to business – it’s meant to slowly build up to the culmination by serving up numerous perplexing roadblocks, hoping to sway anyone brave enough to walk its path. Unfortunately, I walked alone in these woods, and I don’t think I’m quite out of them yet.
1 out of 5