“I’ve seen few movies start so promisingly and end up being so disappointing. Spoilers follow below, so if you haven’t seen it, head on over to Netflix.”
Christopher Denham‘s Preservation is a bit of an odd bird. It’s essentially a survival horror movie, where three campers, Aaron Neary (Mike Staton), his wife Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) and brother Aaron (the awesome Pablo Schreiber) take a camping trip, and are menaced by three masked figures.
There’s a problem though–and I don’t mean the killers–which is that the movie builds up the murderous trio–then curiously works to undermine their effectiveness as a threat.
Initially things begin promisingly, with the killers hunting down the three campers for no reason than that they’re in the wrong place at–for the killers–the right time. They’re portrayed as lethal and coolly efficient, though never supernaturally so (a very good thing).
The murderous trio manage to easily outmaneuver and keep their prey off-balance till the movie gives an important fact away prematurely; namely that the three opportunistic killers are teenagers (or maybe pre-teens).
The movie does its best early on to keep this fact hidden, but there’s a scene about mid-way, when they’re riding dirt bikes in pursuit of Wit, that its fairly obvious that these are not adults. What’s even worse is that Aaron is a combat veteran, yet he’s the first person taken out, dispatched relatively easily in a manner that doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense.
By the way, have you every pulled a muscle in your calf? I ask because that’s where Aaron stabs one of his assailants, yet the next time we see the killer, he’s walking around (though with a slight limp) and riding a bike, which is pretty impressive when you consider that when I just pulled a muscle in the same area I could barely walk, making me think that a stabbing would be significantly more dibilitating.
A huge problem with the scenario that animates the entire movie is that, for the most part, most American young adults are a bit soft, which is because they have grown up in a country where there are police and all sorts of other people looking out for their interests. It doesn’t always work, to be sure, but even when it doesn’t the result doesn’t typically result in remorseless, sociopathic killers.
But that’s not so for all young people. Some have had their lives devastated by violence on a daily basis, which despite their age changes them so that while they’re physically children, it’s an old person that looks out from behind their eyes.
This movie instead gives us three what appear to be mother’s boys, and expect us to believe that they are somehow formidable killers.
And I didn’t buy it. Not for a moment.
By the way, humans aren’t the only animals that kill for fun. Tigers, lions and other animals have been known to kill prey in a manner that isn’t strictly for food. That’s not to say that they’re enjoying it–because we can’t get in their heads to find out–though it’s not quite as clear cut as the tag line “Man is the only animal that kills for fun…” would imply.
Verdict: Preservation isn’t a terrible movie, just terribly disappointing (which in a way is worse). Watch You’re Next instead, which covers similar ground in a far more engaging fashion.
Preservation is currently on Netflix.