Rob Grant’s no stranger to the Blood in the Snow Festival, having submitted his harrowing meta-horror Fake Blood last year to the delight of BitS audiences. Grant’s new film, Alive, is a jarring, disorienting little piece of business that centres around a man (Thomas Cocquerel) and a woman (Camille Stopps) that wake up, severely injured and incapacitated, in an abandoned hospital. They soon meet their deranged but scarily-jovial captor (Angus Macfadyen), a wannabe doctor that has some deep secrets about the pair’s past and their identities.
The film’s success or failure (I’d say it’s the former) hinges on Cocquerel, Stopps, and Macfadyen’s performances, since they’re the focus of the overwhelming majority of the film’s runtime. Veteran Glaswegian actor Macfadyen, especially, brings something special to the film’s antagonist role, his deadly calm belying a deeply sadistic and unpredictable underside. Stopps and Cocquerel more than hold their own as well, especially in the film’s last act, but I don’t know if anyone could outshine Macfadyen in this performance.
The Calgary-shot setting of the abandoned sanitarium is almost a character unto itself, with an odd beauty to its grime-streaked hallways and it’s creepy courtyard. You’ll be spending a lot of time here if you see Alive, so Grant’s portrayal of the building is both important to the story and visually sumptuous.
Prepare for twists stacked upon twists here, as The Man and The Woman (they’re never named) learn more about their true selves. Grant seems game to top each twist with the next one, culminating with an insane resolution to the film that I can nearly guarantee that no one will see coming. Alive’s also got a lot of medical-based gore for those of you that get squicked out by needles, and more than one post-credits scene, so make sure you stick around for those.
Alive has its Toronto Premiere tonight (Nov 23) at 9:30 PM at The Royal Cinema in Toronto. You can (and should!) get tickets here.
Blood In The Snow takes place in Toronto from November 22-27. You can view the entire lineup of screenings and events at their website here.