i-Lived Movie Review
Written by Angry Scholar
Released by XLrator Media
Directed by Frank Khalfoun
Written by Brian Breiter and Frank Khalfoun
2015, 97 minutes
VOD released on July 7th, 2015 | DVD released on August 11th, 2015
Jeremiah Watkins as Josh
Chris Mena as Bobby Yen
Sarah Power as Greta
Josh is a dorky guy trying to hit it big with a YouTube tech review show. He comes across a smartphone app called i-Lived, which promises to help users attain any goal by providing specific instructions. To get results, you’re supposed to film yourself following its instructions and upload it to the company’s website. Like any good YouTube personality, Josh decides to review the app and document his experiences for others to follow.
He begins by asking for six-pack abs. When the app fails to deliver, he dismisses it as nonsense, but one night when he’s out at a bar, the app pops up on his phone again asking him what person at the bar he’d like to talk to. He photographs a woman and the app tells him how he can strike up a conversation with her. He does what it says and is successful, and thus begins a predictably Faustian journey of, well, Faustian... stuff.
Surprisingly, given the YouTube conceit of the narrative, this is not really a found-footage film, although it toes the line. Instead it’s generally presented as a normal movie, with clips of Josh’s YouTube channel, videos from his phone or his security cameras interspersed throughout.
i-Lived is fun in its low-key, goofy way, though it would have done better to stick with comedy rather than transitioning halfway through to an attempt at Twilight Zone-esque horror. The first half of the film is pleasantly ridiculous, and anybody familiar with YouTubers like PewDiePie will appreciate what Josh is going for with his lame jokes and crappy video effects. It suffers from some wooden acting and an extremely predictable plot, but has moments of real humor and even pathos that make it worth a watch. Thematically and aesthetically it somewhat resembles the very good Starry Eyes, although the latter film is considerably darker. (In i-Lived, the company responsible for the eponymous app have their headquarters at 999 Abaddon Street, because lolz.) But both present cartoonish people behaving cartoonishly in a cartoonish Los Angeles full of aspiring movie actors and superficial hedonistic partiers. In the end, though, i-Lived doesn’t really succeed in the same Lynchian hyper-satirical way that Starry Eyes does. This is mostly a silly, enjoyable, but superficial romp through familiar horror-lite territory.