Overview: An anesthesiologist must awaken her animal instincts when she, her husband, and her brother-in-law become the quarry of unseen hunters who want to turn them all into trophies. Distributed by The Orchard; 2014: Unrated: 90 minutes.
Nearly There: Preservation is a movie that can be best described as entertaining but flawed. Some of the those flaws are superficial, such as the overwritten dialogue and plot points that go nowhere. I can accept these because this is a horror movie about people hunting other people, so I can understand if the writer wants to establish his characters quickly and clumsily to get to the hunting. Some of the other flaws are much deeper, and we’ll about those on the second page of this review, aka The Spoiler Zone (working title).
Preservation’s premise is simple. Three people (wife, husband, wife’s brother-in-law) go for a hunting trip and are themselves hunted by three masked psychos. The husband (Mad Men’s Aaron Staton) is an uptight businessman and the brother-in-law (and The Wire’s Pablo Schreiber) is PTSD afflicted war vet, while the wife (Wrenn Schmidt) is a mild-mannered, vegan anesthesiologist. Eventually, the wife must turn the tables and John McClane the psychos.
Not Enough: I wanted to like this movie, but when the credits rolled, I was left unsatisfied. Too much time was been spent showing characters airing their emotions; when the movie finally got into its hunters turned hunted scenes, they ultimately felt rushed. The baddies had shown themselves to be extremely talented at navigating the woods and stalking our heroes, or at least until the third act where they suddenly became incredibly easy to trap. I was left unsatisfied by the violence as well. I had reached a point in the movie where I wanted people to get their shit fucked right up, and the movie did not deliver, becoming shy about the violent retribution it had promised me.
One thing I will say for this movie, though, is that it was fantastic to have a female action hero. She at no point needed to remove any clothing and was never threatened with sexual violence just for the sake of shock value. Wrenn Schmidt was awesome as a woman who went into the forest to eat vegan food and kick ass, and she was all out of tofu and shiitake mushrooms.
Overall: Do you ever have that feeling when you’re watching a movie and you can see hints and allusions to a better movie hiding behind it? That’s what watching this is like. The premise should be a home run, and while what you see is well made, its missteps drag it down. There are better people hunting people movies out there (Surviving the Game stars Rutger Hauer , Ice-T, and Gary Busey and is as good as it sounds), and though I enjoyed the twist of the female action hero, and I will keep an eye out for more from writer/director Christopher Denham, this movie was a wasted opportunity.
Go to page two for spoilers.