28th Apr2017

‘The Survivor’ Blu-ray Review (Severin)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotten, Angela Punch McGregor, Peter Sumner, Lorna Lesley, Ralph Cotterill, Adrian Wright, Tyler Coppin | Written by David Ambrose | Directed by David Hemmings


When I was younger I was a big James Herbert fan, so watching The Survivor was something I just had to do. Confusing and slow, I’ll admit I was not ready for what I found with the film, but now with its new release on Blu-ray, is it about time to give the film another chance?

When a 747 crash lands in a Sydney suburb the only other survivor is David Keller (Robert Powell). Unable to remember what happened to make the plane crash, he starts his own investigation into what happened. With the help of local psychic Hobbs (Jenny Agutter) he discovers not only why the plane crashed, but also why some of the dead refuse to be at peace.

The Survivor is what I would call an old-school ghost story. Instead of focusing more on gore, this horror is more cerebral in its scares. The use of children as the ghosts is something we’ve seen a few times, especially in movies during the seventies and eighties, which is where The Survivor fits. Powell plays a good part as the haunted pilot with survivor’s guilt. It is interesting just why he feels so guilty, and of course we have the equally as good Jenny Agutter as the tortured psychic trying to find her own peace from the victims of the plane crash.

Where The Survivor gets confusing is the reasons behind the crash, and just why the children who were killed on board come back to kill people. These deaths feel like they are included to add some gore to the story, and in some ways, are not needed. For the general creepiness of the film though, these ghosts do add a genuine creepiness as they pick off people who have been connected with the plane crash. With its slow pace, and somewhat confusing narrative The Survivor itself does feel like a missed opportunity, but it is a film that has become more watchable over the years. Now that we have a need for the more intelligent horror, and not all out gore-fests, films like this are good to look back on with a refreshed eye, and of course more patience. Knowing how the film ends is also a help, as repeated viewings does make the events we witness easier to understand.

Severin have included plenty of special features on the disc looking back at the troubled production of the film, and that is very interesting. With it being seen somewhat as an “Ozploitation” film, it is nice to see interviews that look at that aspect of the film too. A very nice addition is a look at James Herbert, as well as Robert Powell being interviewed about the author. It is nice to see the British author getting the respect his work deserves.

The Survivor may not be the best movie to be based on Herbert’s work, but it is still worth watching. Whether re-discovering it, or watching it for the first time this Blu-ray definitely presents it well. A movie I’d not seen for many years, it is nice to re-watch and give it another chance, especially as a more seasoned horror film fan.

**** 4/5

The Survivor is out on DVD and Blu-ray now from Severin.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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