There is a moment near the end of Rob Grant’s latest film Alive where a minor character exclaims “whose idea of a sick joke is this? It’s not funny” after seeing a particular note on the door. The note is indeed funny given the revelations which I won’t spoil here, that proceeded the scene. However, I could not help but reflect on how the statement can be applied to Grant’s film overall.

In many ways Alive’s punchline does not justify the annoyingly bland set up. It is a film where one needs to get to the final fifteen minutes, the most fascinating section, to truly understand the wasted potential of its premise. Much of the film focuses on a man (Thomas Cocquerel) and woman (Camille Stopps) who wake in an abandoned sanitarium unsure of how they got there. Injured and unable to recall who they are, the pair find themselves at the mercy of a doctor (Angus Macfadyen) who claims to be responsible for saving their lives.

Realizing that their physician has sadistic visions of forming a makeshift family, the pair find themselves in a fight for survival as they attempt to piece together their previous lives.

Considering that the protagonists have no recollection of who they are, and very little is known about their demented caretaker, it is hard to get truly invested in any of the characters. As a result, one simply watches the torture they pair endure from a distance. This disconnect from the characters only helps to make their silly decisions even more frustrating to observe. Even Macfadyen’s gleefully over-the-top performance feels wasted here.

While there are glimpses of the heights the premise could have reached, Grant’s film sticks too close to a predictable survival horror formula. All this makes for a meandering film that feels anything but alive.

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