03rd Jun2015

‘Preservation’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Wrenn Schmidt, Pablo Schreiber, Aaron Staton, Cody Saintgnue, Michael Chacon, Nick Saso | Written and Directed by Christopher Denham

Preservation-poster

A camping trip for newlyweds Mike and Wit takes an unexpected turn when they are joined by Mike’s brother, Sean, a former marine. When their tent is stolen overnight and they are left without food or water, the brothers turn on each other. A random act of violence becomes a game of cat and mouse. A weekend in the woods becomes survival of the fittest. A young couple must survive their failing marriage. An Iraq veteran must survive his violent past. And Wit must outsmart the predators hunting their prey.

Right off the bat, the first thing that strikes you about Preservation is the soundtrack. From the opening tune, the soundtrack is very reminiscent of early the work of John Carpenter – very much synth driven with that slightly off-key, off-kilter tone that was used to great effect in the likes of Zombie Flesh Eaters. In fact the soundtrack shares a lot in common with 80s Italian genre cinema, in that the eerie tones and odd choices in instrumentals help build the same source of foreboding, tension and terror found in the likes of Lucio Fulci’s ouevre.

Speaking of tension and terror, Preservation has both in spades. At least once you get past the clunky opening, that sets up the tense dynamic between the three leads and at the same time affords the audience with the films major red herring.

You see Preservation is initially set up as a “us versus him” story, with Mike and Wit, the happily married (at least it seems that way) couple set to go head to head with Mike’s brother Sean, a marine who looks like he’s about to snap from PTSD at any moment. But there’s the rub. It’s not the closed-knit dynamic that implodes as expected, its an external force – a group of homicidal, mask-wearing goons – who are the cause of this films totally unwarranted violence. And worst of all? There’s no motivation for their actions! Well not beyond the ominous line spoke by former soldier Sean: “Man is the only animal who kills because it’s fun!”

Yes, this movies villains are – for all intents and purposes – the epitomy of psychopaths, or sociopaths, it’s not made clear. Their actions have no motivation, their relationship with Mike, Sen and Wit is non-existant and, unlike other backwoods horror movies, they’re not even fighting to keep their “territory” a secret. They are just total psychos. End of. And the big surprise? If I say Eden Lake you’ll probably get what that is… And whilst their actions may be striking enough, Preservation‘s villains also really look the part. The Army of Two-esque face masks and the combat fatigues give these “monsters’ a unique look, especially when compared to other backwoods slasher movies.

Although, if Im honest, those slasher movie trappings are actually hiding a fantastic female “revenge” movie in the vein of  I Spit on Your Grave and its remake; with a heroine – in Wit – that rivals Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey in her brutality and in her pursuit of revenge. There’s even a nod to Death Wish in the films closing moments, with an eerie “thumbs up” from Wit that leaves the audience questioning her mental state…

A fantastic backwoods slasher-come-revenge movie, Preservation is available now on VOD (Sky, Amazon, iTunes, Blinkbox, Google Play) from Alarm Pictures.

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