Director: Christopher Denham
Cast: Wrenn Schmidt, Pablo Schreider, Aaron Staton
Plot: Two brothers go out on a hunting trip, one bringing his wife along, only for them to become the hunted.
One of the biggest problems with B Movie Wednesdays is that, after a while, there aren’t too many original ideas still in the pot. A lot of the movies I review are reworked versions of much better stories. Preservation never got away from the feeling that a bunch of directors and producers saw a cool wooded area to film in and wrote a script around that. A few good notes don’t change that overall impression.
The set-up is that three people go on a hunting trip. As with all good horror movies, the group is dysfunctional. Aaron Staton can’t stay off of his phone for five minutes, his demanding job sucking the life out of his marriage. Wrenn Schmidt’s dutiful but exhausted wife is feeling the distance between them, something made worse by the fact she secretly knows that there is a baby on the way. And Pablo Schreider’s brother character is our token oddball. A discharged military soldier who lives and breathes hunting seems to have picked up a crush on his brother’s wife, making the whole atmosphere incredibly uncomfortable. There is some fun to be had in the three of them and their chemistry… they don’t bounce off of each other, as much as they awkwardly keep their distance, something that makes these characters a little more interesting to follow. The downside is that, unless you have a soft spot for the actors playing the two male characters, the only person you will end up liking is Wrenn Schmidt. This actually helps, to a certain point, because as soon as the killing starts, the writers only really seem to bother developing her character any further. Again, and this is where the similarities between this and many other B Movie Wednesday offerings begin to get in the way, it is the female hero that slowly becomes the action hero of the day. The change is rocky and there are only really a few scenes where her character truly impresses as the table-turning Rambo figure (she performs surgery to her own skull in the late act), but it gives the movie something to work towards. It is just a shame we’ve seen it so many times in the last few years (You’re Next, Burning Bright, Girlhouse).
The main problem is that everything is just so tame compared to other movies out there. As soon as the chills kick in, you realise that the scares don’t come fast enough. The heroes are given just enough power, so the villains don’t ever really come across as scary as the writers want them to be (a late twist about their true identities doesn’t help). The kills are quick and mandatory, nothing overly imaginative which provides a lot of draw for this genre. Even the action is slightly tame. There is also the small problem of a total lack of logic. For every smart detail Preservation throws in, there is a dumb plot hole or lapse in continuity to snap you right out of the moment. I felt that the director, Christopher Denham, had a few points he wanted to get across – the upbringing of our youth, hunting is bad – but he never properly explores his topics, so we are never sure if he is sharing his social commentaries with us, or if we have just made up our own readings of his convenient narrative twists. Preservation isn’t a truly awful movie and it moves along fast enough to make it a watchable flick, but don’t hold out too much hope.
Final Verdict: We’ve seen this before from the slasher in the woods premise to the bad-ass female hero. It doesn’t really do anything too imaginative.