Three school-skipping boys end up at the abandoned exterior film studios Blackwoods and witness how a masked figure drags a kidnapped woman out the trunk of a car and into an underground lair. The boys return home and get punished for their acts by their parents, but that’s nothing compared to the horror that awaits them later that night…
In 2014, directors Alexander Bustillo and Julien Maury returned to the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival to introduce their newest effort, entitled ‘Aux Yeux Des Vivants’. Nearly everyone in the public was also present at this exact same spot a couple of years ago already, for the premiere of ‘À L’Intérieur’ a.k.a. ‘Inside’ (2007), and thus we all knew to prepare for another potentially sickening and heart-wrenching horror film with explicit violence, disturbing atmosphere and nearly unendurable suspense. Bustillo and Maury are truly gifted and visionary young film makers who really understood the secret formula to genuinely terrifying and successful horror! They don’t avoid any taboo subjects or sensitive themes and confront the viewers with their deepest fears and darkest nightmares.
‘À L’Intérieur’ entirely revolved on an extreme terror siege against a 9-months pregnant woman (with some of the cruelest torment sequences ever registered on film), while ‘Aux Yeux Des Vivants’ handles the subject matter of physically deformed children and shamelessly depicts uncompromising violence against innocent women and underage children. More importantly even, it has been a very long time since I witnessed so many utterly intense and uncomfortable scenes of non-stop suspense. The usually always noisy and over-enthusiast crowd at the BIFFF often turned very quiet and timid when gazing at some of the expanded and massively unnerving scenes where the young protagonists are stalked in their own houses.
It’s the last day of school before summer vacation and the troublesome trio Victor (Théo Fernandez), Tom (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Dan (Damien Ferdel) decide to leave early for a bit of exploring the countryside and committing a some random petty arson crimes. They end up at the abandoned exterior film studios Blackwoods and witness how a masked figure drags a kidnapped woman out the trunk of a car and into an underground lair. We viewers already saw during the intro of the film that the studios might be the hideout place of what’s left of a severely dysfunctional family. The boys return home and get punished for their acts by their parents, but that’s nothing compared to the horror that awaits them later that night. The mysterious figure followed them home and plans to silence them forever.
Strangely enough, quite a lot of the violence occurs off-screen, but still the suggestive terror and intense atmosphere is almost unbearable. I will, for example, always remember a specific scene featuring a ringing mobile phone and an icky clown’s mask. Now that is a prime example of what constitutes an intense horror sequence! Bustillo and Maury are even so talented that they manage to make the oldest and most clichéd sentence in horror cinema history – “There is something under my bed.” – still as petrifying as never seen before! And, for the sick puppies amongst you, don’t worry too much about my remark regarding off-screen violence, as there still is plenty of gore and bloodshed portrayed as well. The three young protagonists give away remarkably stellar performances and they receive excellent support from more experienced French actors and actresses like Francis Renaud, Anne Marivin and Béatrice Dalle. Personally, I still regard ‘À L’Intérieur’ as slightly superior – mainly because the nature and motivation of the villain is more realistic in this film – but ‘Aux Yeux Des Vivants’ is nevertheless also a must-see horror movie for the true and most courageous fans of the genre!
Trailer on YouTube.