The 9th Life of Louis Drax is a very dark and disturbing story, but told from a child’s perspective, it almost looks like a fantastic fairy tale.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax posterIt’s difficult not to compare The 9th Life of Louis Drax with Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Not because the stories are in any way similar, but simply because they’re both told through the eyes of a child. This means fantasy and strange “creatures” come into play.

Children have different coping mechanisms and we get to experience them here. It’s not that scary in itself, but it tells the story perfectly.

Even though “fantasy” is definitely appropriate as a genre description, there’s more of a Hitchcock vibe in the storytelling. There’s a mystery that we need to get to the bottom of. In order to get there, we get the story of Louis Drax’ life. He’s the narator of his own story, while being in a coma that he’s not ready to get out of.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax is a visually stunning movie with a story that grabs the audience from the beginning. As things evolve and layers are revealed, you never get bored with any part of it. Again, this isn’t traditional horror in the violent sense of the word. It is, however, a very dark story and the subject is extremely creepy.

A charming little brat

Obviously, the charactor of Louis Drax has to be portrayed perfectly. He’s the narator and the heart of the story. Fortunately, Aiden Longworth is absolutely brilliant as Louis. He has the perfect mix of being charming and a complete brat.

Basically, he’s too smart for his own good and has an amazing vocabulary. He knows how to articulate his feelings, but also has the innocent inquisitiveness of a child. And while he is very innocent, he is also extremely scarred (literally) from what life has been throwing at him so far.

Another very important character, is Louis’ mother. She’s portrayed by Sarah Gadon, who continues to amaze and impress with every new character. She’s still a relatively new name to most, but she will be huge in no time.

Sarah Gadon in The 9th Life of Louis Drax - movie review

Right now, it seems like she’s out with a new big thing every six months or so. She was in the adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63, which was released on HULU. It was produced by – and starred – James Franco. Being a huge fan of the book, I felt too much was left out. However, Sarah Gadon was perfect in that as well. Basically, she’s quickly become the kind of actor, who just makes everything better. You may also have seen her in Dracula Untold or Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral.

While mother and son are at the heart of The 9th Life of Louis Drax, there are a few more amazing names that give great performances. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) is Louis’ father and Jamie Dornan (The Fall) plays his doctor. Also, Oliver Platt (2012) has a very interesting character as Louis’ therapist. The dynamic between Platt and Aiden Longworth is both dark and funny.

Max Minghella got Alexandre Aja on board

The 9th Life of Louis Drax was directed by Alexandre Aja, who has done lots of horror in the past. He caught everyone’s attention with Haute Tension in 2003. Then he made remakes of two iconic horror movies with The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D – both on our list of the best horror remakes this millennium.

As mentioned earlier, the script was written by Max Minghella, who was actually the one to get Aja on board. This is his feature film debut as both director and screenwriter – though he has some short films under his belt already. Alexandre Aja was directing the adaptation of the Joe Hill novel Horns, which Minghella co-starred in with Daniel Radcliffe. Minghella knew Aja wanted to do something that wasn’t just in the horror genre, and so The 9th Life of Louis Drax seemed pretty damn perfect. A mix of horror, fantasy and drama wrapped up in a mystery.

For the record, I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if this adaptation works. However, the author of the book, Liz Jensen, was present at the screening for a Q&A. She was very pleased with this movie, and loved what the cast and director did with Max Minghella’s screenplay. In fact, she even revealed that she liked this ending better than the one she used for the book.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax is still playing at film festivals – we watched it at CPH PIX. However, it has also been released in wide release in many countries already. Including the UK and US. Worldwide releases will continue throughout 2016.


Director: Alexandre Aja
Writer: Max Minghella (based on the novel by Liz Jensen)
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Aiden Longworth, Sarah Gadon, Aaron Paul, Molly Parker, Terry Chen, Oliver Platt


A psychologist who begins working with a young boy who has suffered a near-fatal fall finds himself drawn into a mystery that tests the boundaries of fantasy and reality.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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