Directed By: Christopher Denham
Starring: Wrenn Schmidt, Pablo Schreiber, Aaron Staton
Tag line: "Man is the only animal that kills for fun ..."
Trivia: The eldest of the killers is wearing a MGTOW symbol on his mask
Whether it be snakes, bears, or other woodland creatures, there are plenty of things lurking in the forest to keep you on your toes, but in 2014’s Preservation we’re introduced to a threat of a much different, and altogether more frightening, variety.
To reconnect with one another, Mike (Aaron Staton) and his brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber), who recently returned from a tour of duty overseas, head into the woods for a weekend of hunting, camping, and general mayhem. Tagging along is Mike’s wife, Wit (Wrenn Schmidt), who has a secret she’s been hiding from her workaholic husband for some time now, and hopes this getaway will provide her with an opportunity to reveal it. Undeterred by posted signs stating the area has been closed to the public, the three hike deep into the woods, settling down in what they believe is the ideal camping spot.
When the trio awake the next morning, however, they find their perfect weekend has quickly become a nightmare; not only were they robbed during the night (the thieves made off with everything, including their tent), but they also have been branded (each has an “X” drawn on their forehead). It isn’t long before they realize they’re being hunted, and with no idea where they are or what direction to go in, Mike, Sean, and Wit must fight for their very survival against a mysterious group of predators that, at every turn, seems to be one step ahead of them.
The second half of Preservation is a nerve-wracking horror / thriller, the kind of movie best described as a “heart-stopper”, yet what makes it so is the time writer / director Christopher Denham spends in the first half developing his three main characters. In the film’s opening scene, the brothers reminisce about their younger days, and there are hints throughout that Sean has feelings for Wit (something Mike blows off at first, but which eats away at him as the day drags on). As for Wit, she has some important news for Mike, yet his devotion to his work (he spends a good deal of the trip on his cell phone) makes it impossible for the two to communicate. In the film’s first half hour or so, we get to know these characters, so when they find themselves suddenly in danger, we’re rooting hard for them to make it out alive. In contrast, we spend very little time with the group that’s tormenting them: not nearly enough to understand why they’re doing all this, and just enough to make them even more unsettling than before.
A terrifying fight for survival, Preservation, like Friday the 13th, The Burning, and The Blair Witch Project before it, gives you yet another good reason to stay out of the woods.