Thursday, March 15, 2018

i-Lived

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  The movie is called i-Lived but it should be called i-Barely-Stayed-Awake, ha ha.  Don't worry, there will be another joke like this terrible one later.




i-Lived – 2 out of 5

In my life I will stumble upon the existence of a movie and I’ll decide, for varying reasons, that I want to watch it and I’ll put it on my list of movies to check out.  Too often the movie will sit on my list for a long period of time and I will eventually forget the exact reason I added it to begin with.  This is the case with i-Lived.  I one day read about this somewhere and thought it sounded like one of those accidentally funny low-budget horror movies but, for the life of me, I can’t remember when and where I read about it.  Anyway, this whole bit was just a way to lazily open up this review and mirror the way this film lazily starts its conflict—which, I’ll admit, was just an accident.  In case you haven’t guessed, I wasn’t too impressed with this one.

On the can on a smartphone, is this real life?

Josh (Jeremiah Watkins) is a young man struggling to make a living in the viral online world as an app reviewer.  One day, he reviews an app meant to improve your life and attain your goals called i-Lived.  After not achieving his goal he sets in the app, he gives it a bad review but discovers the app is trying to get him a win in life that he so desperately needs.  After assisting him in picking up a girl at a bar, he withdraws his original review and gives it a new, glowing one.  As he goes further down the rabbit hole of the app, it helps him in getting the career he wants, the woman he lusts for, and seeing his sick mother get better.  However, as soon as he decides he’s done with the app, everything starts to crumble and he learns there might be some sinister forces after him.

More like i-'m-About-To-Die, amirite?
I'll be here all week.  (Told you I'd do another one of these dumb jokes)

I won’t pull any punches here and claim that I had high expectations for i-Lived.  The movie’s story centers on an app and it’s meant to be a horror/thriller.  Anytime a horror movie decides to use technology as a catalyst for its action and terror my expectations are very low (this might be why I haven’t taken the time to watch Black Mirror yet).  I will admit that I didn’t end up finding the film to be a complete waste of time nor would I call it “stupid” or “lame” but I’m also not going to act like I watched a sleeper hit either.  For the most part, this film is a stereotypical low-budget horror movie and it, unfortunately, doesn’t really provide much that worked in grabbing and keeping me engaged but, surprisingly, it does have a few hidden glints of promise in its otherwise silly premise and delivery.

The stupid app was easier to swallow than believing that this girl would be interested
in the dude who wants to be internet famous.

i-Lived suffers from a lot of the problems a low-budget horror movie suffers from but also is hindered greatly by the setbacks that generally exist in the genre.  The production does look cheap pretty often and, while it is easy to accept and suspend disbelief, there’s no denying that this problem exists.  For example, the “internet” moments that show Josh’s show looks pretty weak and have the feel of what the early 00’s thought the viral video craze would look like rather than feeling like what we experience now.  Furthermore, the feature doesn’t really have a working atmosphere.  Josh’s horrific journey never feels frightening or tense and there is very few moments of scares that are effective or even remotely working.  Finally, the premise, story and plot do not work together well enough or contain enough substance to sustain a feature length film.  Josh’s ordeal wears thin very quickly and sometimes feels repetitive.  Additionally, it never builds satisfactorily enough where I was able to be invested in what I was seeing.  I won’t argue that i-Lived doesn’t have some potential to be something despite the fact I find its premise goofy and extremely hard to take seriously as a horror prospect, I just think that this film might have work much better as a short.

The scares are very sparse in this one but this one has a small moment that
is very creepy.  Can you see what is creepy about it?

Normally in low-budget horror movies I complain about how the acting isn’t very good but I’m not really going to do that here.  I won’t try and pretend that what I saw was great but it was serviceable.  The real crime happened instead with the writing, especially with the main character.  Jeremiah Watkins is doing a fairly decent job with his role but the problem that arises is the fact his character is exceptionally unlikable.  Aside from the fact he has a sick mother, there’s very few factors about him that makes him sympathetic and someone that you wish to see survive.  Most of the time, Josh comes off as obnoxious (especially during his video segments) and when he’s not this, he’s too bland and dull to engage with and that leaves you remembering him acting like a doofus that is begging for attention on his video series.  

Him looking like Logan Paul didn't help things.

I found myself completely unable to care about the character and get invested in whether he survives the ordeal or not.  This is way too common place in the genre of horror where an unlikable character is presented as the lead and it makes for an awkward viewing experience.  It’s sometimes fun to cheer for the antagonist in a thriller/horror but you still need a central character that you want to survive or you’re just left with an unfulfilling waste of time.  Josh never truly becomes an interesting character as he is too annoying to be entertaining and has a best friend who is a straight-up D-bag and that left me watching a movie that has me feeling nothing for the main character or anyone who aligns themselves with him.  This also makes a movie that already feels like it should have just been a short feel even longer.

I am really disappointed that the best friend, who is a gross misogynist, didn't
meet a violent end.

One thing that did surprise me about i-Lived is the fact the movie does have one or two decent, well-crafted scares and also provides a cool reveal moment when a part of the mystery of the app is revealed.  I won’t get into Spoilers but there is a point where Josh makes a startling discovery about previous moments in his story and it made me want to skip back through the film and revisit these moments to see if this reveal was actually there the whole time and I never paid attention to it.  This is just another reason why I think this movie should have been made a short because these fleeting moments would have, most likely, carried even greater weight if they weren’t bookended by a lot of dragging narrative and running time.

A short would also eliminate most of the awful mugging the character of Josh does.

I have a hard time overlooking that i-Lived centers on an app that ultimately takes the main character down a path of ruin because I just think that is a silly premise but there are some things that ultimately worked in the film’s favor.  Granted, the drawbacks this film had were numerous and made watching it feel a bit like a chore as it never really feels like it is getting up and going or even on the verge of getting up and going.  Still, with all this being said, the film could have been a lot worse and might have actually been about a haunted app or something even dumber.  One thing remains; however, I do believe this feature might have made an excellent short film.  Its core concept is simple enough and a no-nonsense, no-filler short feature would have exploited that concept terrifically.

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