I wanna believe in the greater good of humanity but the problem is all these humans. Seriously. We can blame anal-probing aliens or demonic kale enthusiasts for all our problems but when you carry the two and divide the one it equals the fact that we do majorly fucked up shit and we do it to each other… With gusto. The most interesting films take that factor (sans the supernatural) and jack the dial all the way up to eleven. Preservation tops out at a solid six, maybe a light seven, showcasing what fun popcorn horror/thrillers can be.
We follow Pablo Schriber’s “Sean”, a PTSD-suffering stabby Paul Bunyan, alongside his yuppie techno-centered brother Aaron Staton’s “Mike” and sister-in-law, vegan preggo-my-eggo, Wrenn Schmidt’s “Wit” as they go on a camping trip to hell. Which to me is any hotel that doesn’t have HBO or room service but to them includes a psychopathic ninja wilderness murder tag team and s’mores. Tomato/Tomahto.
After a night of drinking and reminiscing about the good old days mixed in with some inappropriate sexual tension, the trio wake up to find all their gear, food and weapons have been stolen and they’ve all been marked, literally with a black sharpie and an “X” on the forehead, for death. Cue fight, flight and backwoods mayhem.
Preservation is a slow-burning horror/thriller built on the backbone of human psychology and the instinct to survive even the harshest extremes. Christopher Denham’s sophmore effort as a writer/director (2008’s short Home Movie having popped his behind-the-camera cherry) isn’t the freshest hooker on the block but still manages to turn a horror trick and keep the audience engaged past the first forty murderless minutes all the way through to the last strangle and stab.
The film is fairly front-heavy, building a weird character love triangle that fizzles out mid-film with an anti-climactic pop as the characters spend more time apart than together. But hey, watching Pablo Schriber (Liev Schriber’s smokin’ younger half-brother) do anything, even spout off super lame dialogue gets my lady engine firing on all pistons.
Sean, Mike and Wit are likeable enough characters but never really scrape past the superficial layer of development, leaving me mildly intrigued by their peril but ultimately unaffected as to who lives and who dies (even taking into consideration the not-so-surprise twist with Wit). At one point, I actually start rooting for the almost entirely silent ghostface killas because, without saying a word, they convey a chilling psychopathic vibe and homicidal determination.
Preservation does a lot with the genre, though, so the majority of that is forgivable; unlike that one time I wore jeggings with uggs… On purpose. With a lackadaisical pop-goes-the-weasel setup of absurd kills and insane booby traps (yes, going for the water obviously hanging from a tree in the middle of a clearing while on the run from sadistic omnipresent killers is a stellar life choice) this is clearly a no-fly zone for logic, but if you throw away those pesky expectations and pop the tab on whatever expired beer you found in your neighbor’s basement then this movie is almost as entertaining as watching two hobos duke it out over a footlong sub (with nearly identical endings). Win/win.
Once you drink the Kool-Aid and embrace the genre camp, Preservation hits a whole new level of laugh-out-loud shenanigans. I’m pretty sure Denham intended to extol the evils of modern day by having the killers communicate with each other by texting, ripping into the soft underbelly of society’s inability to relate to each other on a person-to-person level without the crutch of technology (insert jerkoff motion here) but just ends up a clumsy fumble for a bra clasp in the dark.
Preservation is a wildly fluctuating bipolar romp through the horror/thriller genre that manages to engage the audience despite an overall lack of creativity. Entertaining but ultimately forgettable, I had fun watching Preservation (and at least it wasn’t Taken 3: No One Actually Gets Kidnapped But We Still Didn’t Rename The Franchise) so it had that going for it.
This film is like diet-The Descent with a similar premise (minus the mutated cave-dwelling creatures) and ideals but ultimately lacking in execution. Not bad for a sophomore effort, though, and fairly watchable to boot; Preservation is a decent way to pass the time if Fight Club and Se7en are off the table.