June 24, 2015

Movie Review: Preservation (2014)

Survival horror can be an entertaining sub-genre of horror, it has turned out some excellent films of the years, from classics like The Evil Dead to more recent entries like You're Next. They can be grueling, horrific journeys into the lengths people will go to, the depths of being, in order to survive. Then there are movies like Preservation, on the surface entertaining enough, but feels like it could have used a few more rewrites. On one hand it tries to be realistic, on the other hand it goes a little over the top. Neither side goes to far and they kind of trip each other up, resulting in a middling affair.

Preservation was written and directed by Christopher Denham, it is his second feature after 2008's Home Movie. Most of his career has been in front of the camera, having appeared in films such as Sound of My Voice, Shutter Island, Argo, and The Bay. He shows some skill here, but it feels more like a collection of scenes, a short film stretched out to the length of a feature. It is straining at the seams.

As it opens, we meet a trio going out to a park to do a little hunting. Two brothers, Sean (Pablo Schreiber) and Mike (Aaron Staton), and Mike's wife Wit (Wrenn Schmidt). The brothers reminisce on times hunting with their father, or killing small animals, and generally being there for each other. It is a weird exchange, although it becomes clear that Sean is dealing with some issues after being discharged from the army.

Anyway, the three head out into the park, which was closed when they arrived. The blather on and when night falls they set up camp and the following morning is when thing take a sideways turn. Their gear, supplies, even the tent have been taken and they each have an X on their forehead. They have been marked and are now being hunted. But the hunt doesn't begin until the brothers turn on each other. But the fun really begins when the hunters in the left over Purge: Anarchy masks show up.

Preservation takes a somewhat grueling turn as the three protagonists are hunted. For me, things began to get a little silly when we see the bad guy hunters chasing our heroine final girl on BMX bikes, doing jumps and tricks along the way. They're kids! As Wit taps into her inner killer and goes full on survivalist while the killers are revealed to be kids thinking they need to go home before they get in trouble.

The movie really isn't that bad, but there are definite issues with it. For example, the masked killer kids are in one moment a tactical force that cannot be killed or hurt, the next they are whiny kids talking about going home and can be hurt. This is not the sort of movie that works both ways. At the same time, the protagonists are not likable enough and they suck up a lot of running time early on and never become all that likable.

The last half hour is entertaining enough as Wit goes full on survivalist and the kids turn into, well, mean spirited killer teens instead of an unkillable tactical team. There are certainly worse movies out there and I can say I liked this one enough, but with a little work it could have been really good. Frankly, I would have liked it if they went fully over the top with it. Oh well. At least there is always You're Next.

Mildly Recommended.

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