Review: ‘9th Life of Louis Drax’ one of 2016’s worst

Beguiling, empty-headed drama about a coma-stricken kid should have never made it to its first life

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Nine lives is nine too many for “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” a muddled, boneheaded, laughable fantasy drama that stumbles from the gate and never finds its purpose.

Aiden Longworth is insufferable as the title character, a painfully precocious child who winds up in a coma after falling from a cliff during a family picnic. Drax has been prone to accidents his whole life, you see (we see, in a scene-setting montage), but as the incidents that led to his fall are pieced together by his mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon), his father Peter (Aaron Paul) and his doctor Allan (Jamie Dornan), it’s clear Drax may have used up the last of his good fortune.

If only the audience were so lucky.

Drax himself has a mischievous smile and way about him that make him creepy, rather than cute; you should want him to wake from his coma, but the way the movie presents him, you’re happy he’s down for the count. Meanwhile, Natalie is a projection of male fantasies and insecurities about women: She’s a damsel in distress, a seductress and a cunning schemer, and you’re never sure who she’s going to be from one scene to the next.

Add in a cave-dwelling sea creature covered in moss and a soup-slurping Oliver Platt (as a child psychologist) and you have the recipe for one of the worst movies of the year.

Horror maestro Alexandre Aja (“High Tension,” “The Hills Have Eyes”) is the absolute wrong person for this job, not that anyone could make heads of tails of Max Minghella’s inscrutable screenplay (based on Liz Jensen’s novel) anyhow.

Leave this dud alone; do not resuscitate.

agraham@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @grahamorama

‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’

GRADE: D

Rated R: for some disturbing images and brief strong language

Running time: 108 minutes