The story begins on Louis Drax's 9th birthday, when a lifetime of curious mishaps culminates in the boy's near-fatal fall. Desperate to reveal the strange circumstances behind the young boy's accident and dark coincidences that have plagued his entire life, Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan) is drawn into a thrilling mystery that explores the nature of the sixth sense, testing the boundaries of fantasy and reality.
'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' is a grab bag of genres, that despite it's amazing visual look, the plot and crossing of genres make this film fairly difficult to care about, considering its subject matter. Director Alexandre Aja sure has had a hand at mixed reviews in the horror/thriller genre with films such as 'Haute Tension', the remake of 'The Hills Have Eyes', and more recently 'Horns', but with this horribly titled 'The 9th Life of Louis Drax', the French filmmaker takes a more supernatural and lighter approach that is eerily similar to 'The Sixth Sense', 'A Monster Calls', and 'Pan's Labyrinth'. If this was a prequel about the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' hero Drax the Destroyer, we would have all been better off, despite a decent cast here.
Written by Max Minghella (the bad guy in 'The Internship') and based on the book by Liz Jensen, 'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' follows a young kid, who on his 9th birthday, falls off a big cliff, dies, but then goes into a coma. Oddly enough, this is the 9th time this kid named Louis Drax (the annoying Aiden Longworth) has died in his short life by way of weird, yet funny deaths. In the hospital, hooked up to every machine possible, Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan) thinks that there is more than meets the eye with Louis and tries to figure out the inner workings of his brain.
Even Louis' psychiatrist Dr. Perez (Oliver Platt out of nowhere) thinks there is something more sinister behind the deaths of Louis. Could it be his father Peter (Aaron Paul) or even a lookalike of Treebeard from 'Lord of the Rings', who shows up from time to time and sounds a little too much like Liam Neeson at first. Yes, there is that much going on in this film, and none of really works or makes sense. There are tons of flashbacks that showcase clues as to what Louis Drax has gone through growing up, complete with his silly narration. All bets are off for caring for this dumb kid when he kills his hamsters with heavy leather bound books.
The film then zig zags in and out of trying to be a comedy, detective story, and horror film, none of which have a cohesive narrative. As the film goes one, it's easy to see where this goes, which would surprise nobody, leaving you wasting two hours. The script is cheesy, trite, and ridiculous, and will make you laugh when the multiple reveals try to twist your emotions. Performances are generally solid, however the script delivers no help, which dialogue can come across as silly. Aja certainly has an artistic eye for sure, as the film looks visually pleasing, yet haunting with blue filters throughout. Nobody looks comfortable in this film, and neither will the audience. This misses the mark by a mile, even though it tries to be clever.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment and is Region A Locked. There is a digital download code insert inside. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. A few trailers for other films play before the main menu appears.
'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The image looks great with sharp and vivid detail in every frame. A lot of the film takes place in dark locations or has a blue filter on it, but it never drowns out any of the detail. Individual hairs on the actor's faces and the practical effects of the creature look incredible. Wider shots look equally great, particularly in a few well-lit exterior shots.
There are some heavy-CGI scenes, particularly under water, which looks amazing as well. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There are a number of scenes that play out like a fantasy where the edges of the screen have a bright white glow, which turns the picture a bit soft, but that's a stylistic choice. Lastly, there are no major issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise really here, leaving this video presentation with good marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and sounds good. This audio presentation won't win any awards and doesn't have any giant explosions or gun battles, but that doesn't stop the mix from having an immersive feel to it. Sound effects of the different deaths and the creature appearing sound full and robust, but never overly done.
Ambient noises of the ocean crashing on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, the wind blowing through the trees, and people chattering in the background all sound great too. The score always adds to the suspense or mystery of the film without drowning out any other sound effect or ambient noise. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills, making this a solid audio presentation.
The Making of 'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' (HD, 3 Mins.) - A very short promo EPK with interviews with the cast and crew talking about the film with clips from the movie spliced in.
'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' isn't a good film by any means, although it has flashes of decent moments throughout. The movie tries to be so many things it isn't, that all of the dialogue, performances, and storylines end up a jumbled mess that comes across as silly and over-the-top, rather than the desired effect of mystery and horror. The video and audio presentations are quite good though, but the only extra is less than three minutes and doesn't deliver any real information. Feel free to skip this one all together.