The 9th Life of Louis Drax is a 2016 Canadian-American supernatural thriller film directed by Alexandre Aja, written by Max Minghella based on Liz Jensen's best-selling novel of the same title, and starring Jamie Dornan, Sarah Gadon, Aiden Longworth, Oliver Platt, Molly Parker, Julian Wadham, Jane McGregor, Barbara Hershey, and Aaron Paul.
Louis Drax (Longworth), a 9-year-old boy, narrates that throughout his short life he has survived a series of near-fatal accidents, and the most recent one involves a suspicious fall off a cliff during a picnic with his parents, the cause of which he does not explain. Through a series of flashbacks, Louis's sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Perez (Platt) are shown. Perez asks Louis about his opinions and past, learning that Louis exhibits certain peculiar behaviors, such as a distrust of men and repeated killings of his pet hamsters, an act Louis justifies by calling it "The Right of Disposal." Perez is suspicious of Louis's relationship with his father, Peter (Paul). Additional flashbacks reveal a strained relationship between Peter and Louis's mother, Natalie (Gadon), including an incident where Peter and Louis run into Peter's ex-wife during a trip to SeaWorld, resulting in a fight between Peter and Natalie. Despite Dr. Perez promising that everything Louis told him would be confidential, he tells Natalie about his concerns, causing her to end the sessions as she believes Perez is interfering with her marriage.
In the present, a doctor examining Louis after his latest accident pronounces him dead. After Louis is transported to the morgue, however, he suddenly awakes, and is placed in intensive care in a coma. Meanwhile, Peter, who has disappeared, is immediately the primary suspect in the possible attempted murder of Louis. Louis's case attracts the attention of Dr. Allan Pascal (Dornan), who is fascinated by Louis's sudden turnaround and becomes the lead doctor in charge of Louis's care. Despite Allan being married, he and Natalie share a mutual attraction, and he kisses her one-day while the two go on a walk, which is seen by everyone. As soon as this happens, Louis briefly awakens from his coma, only to mutter 'my dad' before falling back unconscious.
Natalie and Allan receive threatening letters telling them to stay away from each other, with the author of said letters claiming to be Louis himself. Dalton (Parker), the lead investigator on Louis's case, believes the letters to be written by Peter. To help find the writer, everyone in the hospital submits to a handwriting test. For Natalie's protection, she is given a room in the hospital to stay in until Peter is found. Dalton warns Allan not to become involved with Natalie, telling him that not only is Peter not Louis's real father, but at one point Natalie attempted to give Louis up for adoption. Natalie confesses to Allan that Louis was the result of a rape from a different man, and despite Dalton's warnings, she and Allan have sex.
Louis is visited in the hospital by his grandmother, Peter's mother Violet (Hershey). Violet, who notices Allan and Natalie's relationship, warns Allan that Natalie is unstable and manipulative, implying she has lied about multiple things including her rape. Dalton suddenly enters, informing Violet and Allan that Peter's body has been found at the bottom of a cliff, having been dead for several days.
While all of the above is happening, Louis continues to narrate, seemingly aware of everything going on despite being in a coma. At certain points he is visited by a mysterious, deformed creature covered in seaweed, who gives him advice and encouragement. Allan also sees this creature at one point in a dream he has while sleeping by Louis's side. Louis visits the creature in a cave, and it is ultimately revealed that it is Louis's manifestation of Peter, who was found dead in a cave covered in seaweed. The Peter creature is very kind to and protective of Louis, and Louis doesn't want to leave him.
One day, while waking up from a nap, Allan is told by another doctor that not only did he sleepwalk during his nap, but he also wrote a prescription for Natalie, for dangerous doses of insulin and chloroform. This, combined with Allan's other dreams and the suspicious letters, leads Allan to believe that while he sleeps, Louis has somehow been controlling him and his actions. This is further supported when it is discovered that Allan's handwriting matches that of the threatening letters. Allan informs Dr. Perez, who decides to work with Allan to get to the bottom of the situation. He hooks Allan up to an EKG and through meditative exercises manages to directly communicate with Louis via Allan's mind and voice.
Louis reveals what happened during the picnic: Natalie tries to give Louis some candy but refuses to allow Peter to have any, making Peter suspicious about Natalie possibly harming Louis and leading to a fight. Louis flees to the cliff edge, while Natalie and Peter follow and get into a scuffle, which ends when Natalie pushes Peter off the cliff to his death. Louis sees this and despite Natalie's pleas, walks off the edge of the cliff on his own in an apparent suicide attempt.
At this point, Louis's heartbeat suddenly stops and Allan wakes up. While Allan tries to revive him with a defibrillator, it is shown that Natalie is responsible for Louis's 'accidents', having done things such as poison his candy, electrocute him while near a socket, and smother him with a pillow. Allan succeeds in restarting Louis's heart while Natalie looks on.
Some time later, Allan moves out after separating from his wife. He visits Natalie, who has been placed in a psychiatric ward under Dr. Perez's care. Perez explains to Allan that he has diagnosed Natalie with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and her multiple abuses of Louis were her attempts to grow closer to him by 'saving' him from near-death situations, which she herself put him in. It is shown that Natalie is now pregnant, presumably with Allan's child.
In a final narration, Louis ponders the fact that his mother was 'the bad one' and whether being in a coma forever is bad, as it allows him to stay with his father. Peter's voice, however, tells Louis that the world is beautiful and he needs to grow up and live his life. Louis finally awakens from his coma, and the film ends.
In August 2014, Jamie Dornan joined the cast of the film, with Alexandre Aja directing from a screenplay by Max Minghella adapted from the book, who will produce alongside Tim Bricknell under their Antcolony Films banner. In September 2014, Aaron Paul, Sarah Gadon, Oliver Platt, Molly Parker, Barbara Hershey, and Aiden Longworth all joined the cast of the film.
In May 2016, Soda Pictures acquired UK distribution rights to the film. In June 2016, Summit Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film and set the film for a limited September 2, 2016 release. The film was released in the United Kingdom on September 2, 2016.
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On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 40%, based on 57 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The 9th Life of Louis Drax is intriguing and visually compelling, but its disparate parts are never truly woven into a satisfying whole." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 41 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".