FrightFest favourites Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury ( Inside , Livid ) return with a brooding, atmospheric chiller in the throes of an identity crisis.
One of the most eagerly-anticipated films of FrightFest 2014 thanks to its directors' previous credits, Among The Living is a strong contender for having the most upsetting opening scene of the fest.
A man watches a TV report about a chemical plant disaster before his pregnant wife beats him over the head with a baseball bat. Storming upstairs, the woman then attacks their son before stabbing herself in the belly...
Skip forward a few years and we're in the company of 14-year-old ne'er-do-wells Victor, Tom and Dan, who stumble across an old, abandoned film studio that's home to a formidable masked figure who's just kidnapped a woman.
In ATL' s strongest segment, the boys attempt to evade the figure before stumbling across an underground den like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, replete with Christmas lights and a movie graveyard set.
Boasting Bustillo and Maury's trademark gorgeous cinematography, there's no faulting ATL 's atmosphere, but the rest of the film is less successful.
Drawing on everything from Halloween to The Hills Have Eyes and Argento, it's no surprise that Among The Living is something of a muddle.
Those expecting the Bustillo/Maury brand of ultra-violence are well-served by the opening five minutes, but the directors become unexpectedly gore-shy during the second act stalk-n-slash segment before going all out in a logic-shattering finale.
Had Among The Living had the courage of its convictions, this could have been one of the fest's most upsetting and savage entries. Instead, it just can't decide what it wants to be.