“i-Lived” Through This Movie — Barely

Posted: April 19, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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I was pleasantly surprised (enough, at any rate) by Franck Khalfoun’s remake/”re-imagining” of Maniac that he landed on my entirely unofficial and even more entirely unwritten “directors to watch” list, but here’s the thing — the fact that said “list” doesn’t actually exist means that it takes no more effort to scrub a name off it than it does to add one to it, and guess what? Khalfoun’s latest writing and directing “effort,” 2015’s i-Lived, more or less guarantees that’s exactly what I’ll be doing with his. Let the interminable bitching begin —

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I barely use apps for shit, but I guess the young folks do, so who knows? Maybe for them, the idea of a flick about one of them that’s kinda/sorta haunted will have greater resonance. And maybe they won’t think this film’s protagonist, a twenty-something nitwit named — groan! — Josh (portrayed in truly cringe-worthy style by the apparently talent-free Jeremiah Watkins), who’s got a degree from fucking Stanford that he’s putting to “use” as an “app critic” on YouTube for no compensation whatsoever (speaking of cringe-worthy, the name of his “show” is “J-Tech Reviews”), is flat-out impossible to relate to. But I sincerely hope that’s not the case, because if there’s an entire generation of people who can empathize with this asshole on even any level, then our society is well and truly doomed.

Fortunately for us all, so is Josh — but sadly, it takes a long time for him to meet his richly-deserved demise. First he’s gotta download the “self-help” app called (as you’re no doubt already aware) “i-Lived” to his phone. Then he’s gotta follow its advice, which frankly seems to work for awhile. Using its timely tips he’s able to get himself a new girlfriend with money named Greta (the fetching Sarah Power), land a bunch of new subscribers for his half-assed channel, and score a deal with an online “network” to broadcast his show on their YouTube feed for big money. Sure, he’s being followed by a mysterious stranger in dark sunglasses who carries an umbrella with his at all times (Brian Breiter), but Josh, being an arrogant bastard and all (his mother is dying of cancer back home and he doesn’t even visit, just talks to her and his dad via Skype), doesn’t even register dude’s presence and thinks that the “success” he’s now having is entirely due to his own “hard work.”

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Can you predict what happens next? Of course you can. He deletes “i-Lived” from his iPhone on the advice of Greta and his best friend Bobby (Chris Mena) and in a matter of days his girl cheats on him, his “big deal” falls through, and mom — who had been on the mend for a minute there — is carted off to the hospice ward. So it’s back to “i-Lived,” and suddenly everything is good again, even if he’s essentially having to offer blood sacrifices to the app at this point to keep it “working.” Then bright boy finally holds the name “i-Lived” up to a mirror (actually, to his darkened computer screen) and begins to have some serious second thoughts.  He also bothers to read the fine print on the app’s acceptance screen for the first time and sees that he’s — contain your surprise, please! — signed away his immortal soul to the devil as part of the deal. He wants out at this point, but I guess not that badly, and so all his dreams come true but he hates every second of it and finally kills himself. The end.

Oh, shit — guess I should have said in advance that this review was loaded with “spoilers,” huh? Oh well, I warned you that I was a cultural dinosaur.

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That being said, I did watch this celluloid abortion via instant streaming on Hulu (it’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD but ,needless to say, I don’t recommend even renting, much less purchasing, it) and between Khalfoun’s bland and uninspired direction and uber-predictable script, Watkins’ constant and annoying awareness that he’s on camera, and the film’s complete lack of suspense, intrigue, or even logic (never mind that there’s barely even any blood or gore), the kindest thing I can say about i-Lived is that it’s a total waste of an hour and twenty-one minutes of your life. I have nothing against the tried-and-true, or even the downright cliched, but please, Franck Khalfoun, if by some slim chance you happen to be reading this  — next time you want to tell a story about someone’s life going down the proverbial drain, make sure it’s a life that we don’t want to see over with from the moment we’re introduced to it.

 

 

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. I haven’t seen this film but just looking at those pictures of Jeremiah Watkins makes me cringe.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      He’s a truly risible actor portraying probably the least likable protagonist I’ve seen in a long time.

  3. A killer app?! Well, we’ve been through movies about haunted videotapes, cell phones, and websites, with various degrees of success depending on whether you watched the Japanese or Korean versions, or the American remakes. Did anyone make a movie about a haunted Blu-Ray or DVD? Next it will be a Fitbit that exercises people to death. Damn, technology, you’re scary!

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