Movie Review: Preservation

Preservation poster

Preservation reaffirms why @TigersMS78 doesn’t go camping…

In Chris Denham’s wilderness stalker film Preservation, some of the well worn tropes that litter horror films are turned around and this is refreshing to see, only problem is the ones that still exist make it into the film as well.

From the opening scenes Denham plays with audience, two brothers (Sean & Mike) are in the front seat of the car heading away for what seems to be a manly hunting/camping trip. Denham deftly cuts to Mike’s wife and you that’s just the first little grenade Denham drops into the melting pot. Mike & Sean’s relationship is strained, Sean a returned war veteran who can’t seem to adjust to the civilian life and is way too intense to be regarded as normal. We also learn that Mike and his wife Wit also have strained marriage, adding to the mix is Sean’s alpha maleness, Mike’s quiet distrust of his brother and Wit’s slow gravitation toward Sean, there is plenty of fuel to light this fire. The spark comes in the form of a morning panic, when everyone discovers everything has been taken – tents, water, guns and even Sean’s dog, oh and let’s not forget all that each one of them now have an X drawn in the middle of their foreheads…

Scene from PreservationWriter/Director Debham slowly but surely amps up the tension until you’re suddenly in the middle of a chase without knowing it and the trio is definitely being hunted down, one by one. Denham lets us get to know the trio and this pays off as when the bad stuff begins to happen, you do actually care for them which is better than having three walking victims that are going to hurt and the audience could care less about them.

Denham uses the locations well, encapsulating the vast wilderness pushing the point that if you’re lost in the woods you are pretty screwed. The music by Sam Jones & Alexis Marsh is bring a level of atmosphere to the film that elevates it about the standard stalk and kill film.

The acting in Preservation is all round great. Pablo Schreiber plays Sean as tightly wound, world weary but with a deep but seemingly aimless intensity, whilst Aaron Staton (Mike) and Wrenn Schmidt (Wit) make a great couple, manging to wring all they can out the issues facing them, with Wreen Schmidt in particular putting in a fantastic physical performance.

Denham uses the mobile phone and technology in general as an integral part of the film. Mike’s refusal to turn off his phone whilst on the trip is a bug bear of both Sean and Wit, (however it must be said it’s certainly a change from the old – ‘Can’t get a signal’ line that is in umpteen thousands of films). The evil stalkers – none of which are either paranormal or supernatural but flesh and blood – also are in on the technology theme that runs through, only once do we see and hear them talk, otherwise they send messages to each even if they sit less than a metre away from each other. Denham’s a little heavy handed with his theme or message at times but he is right saying that we should unplug and actually notice our surroundings and tune in the world around us, our trio would have noticed a few signs if they weren’t wrapped in the technology or using it to tune out from the world. Unfortunately there are a number of yell at the screen or groan moments and not in a good way. There are a few times where a simple willingness to kill their attackers would’ve tipped the odds in the survivors favour, now this is not a new decision that characters in a horror film have had to make and in all honesty it’s a tired ‘moral question’ that has been seen many, many, many times before.

Preservation is short, sharp and at times frightening thriller, to his credit Debham tries to convey a message in his film but it doesn’t quite come across as well as it should. None the less Preservation is definitely thrilling and worth your time.

Ryan Morrissey-Smith

Twitter: @TigersMS78

Images: IMDb &

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