i-Lived is an inventive if not entirely successful horror movie with a simple modern idea. It asks what is in those software agreements you click okay on when installing software. Have you ever read one? Clicking “okay” is the digital equivalent of a signature at the bottom of a contract. So what if that contract was more, how can we put it,… Faustian than expected? The letter i in this context means internet. And what is “Lived” an anagram of…? What exactly are you signing up to?
Josh is a vlogger, whose online presence reviews new smartphone apps. His online personality is a bit of a cock, but he seems a personable character when not in front of the character. His life is also in a bit of a shambles, and he’s certainly not making enough money to consider himself a success. His parents have all but disowned him and can’t understand what he actually does for a living.
A new app has popped up which claims to be a lifestyle coach. It is called i-Lived and those who have downloaded and installed it find themselves being set automatic challenges, the results of which seem to improve their lives for the better. Small things to begin with, like asking people out and seizing the day.
Josh at first finds the app a great addition to his life, and reports and recommends it to his online followers. He finds his life going very well and doesn’t draw any connection to the app, but as his life improves he finds the challenges getting more and more sinister and, well, evil. It’s when he realises the connection and deletes the app from his phone that things start going very wrong.
i-Lived is successful in its tackling of an old idea. It’s a refreshingly modern way of dealing with an old story. The mood setting and gradual realisation is also nicely done.
It stands apart from many other films too with an actual app called i-Lived which you can download on your phone and have running during the film. It’s a neat device which automatically syncs with the audio of the film and starts presenting you with extra data to accompany what’s happening on screen. It’s actually a very clever storytelling device – when Josh’s phone rings on the screen, your phone flashes up with the call received picture so you know who is calling him. The same thing happens when he receives a text. In many ways this speeds up the pacing of some scenes as there’s no need for any further and explicit establishing information to be presented on your TV screen. You’ll also find your phone making creepy noises and vibrating ominously at key moments.
If you don’t have the app installed, its unlikely you will find the story telling lacking because of technology. The story is very simple and any lack of narrative lies in that not a great deal happens. Although for the most part well written and acted, there is not much more than the central plot, so very little to give light and shade to the story and the world it takes place in. There are some jumps, but not a huge amount of actual horror – unsettling or explicit. As a result the movie is entertaining but not wholly satisfying. It’s a shame that the app is probably the thing which makes it most fun to watch.
i-Lived is out on DVD on Monday 11th July, and is already available to download.