The Horror Honeys: 'The Living' - Revenge Is Not a Game

'The Living' - Revenge Is Not a Game

A Revenge Honey Feels Filled Review by Linnie

The Living (2014)

Revenge isn't a joke. It isn't stylized like a Tarantino movie, or gauzy like an ABC nighttime soap opera. Revenge is horrible and violent and it will destroy your life; there is no relief from vengeance and the story doesn't end with that final gun shot or slice of a knife. There aren't enough movies that cover how truly life-altering and destructive the desire for and act of seeking vengeance can be.

Jack Bryan's The Living is a movie that shows the horribly inevitabilities that come from seeking vengeance in the real world, our real world. And it will absolutely destroy you at the most visceral level, regardless of where you stand on the issues at the heart of it...

"The hard part ain't the doing it. The hard part is the living with it."

The Story: We enter the story on the morning after Teddy (Fran Kranz) has brutally beaten his wife Molly (Jocelin Donahue) while blackout drunk. Molly is at her mother Angela's (Joelle Carter) house, hiding from Teddy, who can't even remember what he's done until he sees Molly's face. Molly's brother Gordon (Kenny Wormald) is passive, and quiet, but encouraged by Angela to do something, anything to stand up for his sister. But what does Molly want? And will Gordon make the kind of the kind of decisions out of the desire for revenge that he can never take back?

It is going to be deeply difficult to talk about The Living without giving too much of the story away, but because I think this is a movie that demands to be seen, I am going to do my best. From the opening moments of Bryan's film, there is a deep, almost painful, undercurrent of inevitability coursing through every scene. Half of the film is spent with Molly and Teddy as they work through their relationship and try to salvage it, as Molly tries to decide whether or not she can ever forgive Teddy, and as Teddy tries to forgive himself. We don't know enough to determine whether or not this is an isolated incident, but the not knowing is a big part of the emotional turmoil you will feel watching The Living, and the questions you will ask yourself constantly are essential. Does it matter if it's never happened before? Given the severity of Molly's injuries, does Teddy deserve to be forgiven at all? Or should Molly be trusted to make her own decisions regarding her life?

"Men always change until you give them the chance to change back."

And then... the B story. Gordon has been cornered by his mother into an act of revenge that leads to him hire a violent ex-con to kill Teddy. Howard (an absolutely terrifying Chris Mulkey), is a vicious, seemingly soulless man, and almost immediately it becomes clear that Gordon has gotten in way over his head with Howard. It is in Gordon's first meeting with Howard that The Living truly becomes the almost unbearably frightening film that it will remain for the rest of the running time. To say that The Living's ending feels inevitable is an understatement; even as the logical part of you feels it coming, your heart won't be rendered any less broken when it happens.

The performances and delicate direction are a huge part of what will keep you engaged with The Living, even as you feel yourself wanting to pull away. Chris Mulkey, who I have met and is an absolute treasure, will make every conceivable inch of your skin crawl as Howard. From the moment Gordon steps in front of him, your every instinct will tell you this was a horrible decision. As Teddy, the normally affable and goofy Kranz messes with your head in the same way you can feel that he just well may with Molly's. His gentle voice and sweet smile always seem to be masking something darker, but you are never able to get a handle on whether or not that darkness is truth, and as a performance, it's perfection. Both Donahue and Carter absolutely nail their respective roles, as women who have been hurt, and as a mother and daughter who can't see eye to eye on Molly's best interest. You will, without doubt, care deeply about everyone, and as such, everything that The Living levies on you will be that much more brutal.

I can't say enough about Jack Bryan's The Living, so I will stop here and suggest that you add it to your Netflix list immediately. Just prepare yourself for an all-out emotional assault; one that will leave you asking yourself a lot of hard questions.

Revenge Honey Rating: 5 ugly cries out of 5

The Living is available via Netflix Instant, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, YouTube VOD, & DVD

Watch The Living, and the join me on Twitter for an ugly cry: @linnieloowho