Preservation (2014)

Horror, Thriller
Wrenn Schmidt, Pablo Schreiber, Aaron Staton, Cody Saintgnue
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.
  • The Orchard Company:
  • N/A Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 09 Jan 2015 Released:
  • 06 Apr 2015 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Christopher Denham Writer:
  • Christopher Denham Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Don't Go In The Portaloo Alone!4/10
If you and your loved ones are planning to spend a few days in the wilderness blasting the crap out of defenceless woodland critters, I suggest reading the following ten point safety guide that I have compiled based on the movie Preservation. You never know… it might just save your life! 1. If the park sign says it is closed, it could be because the place is a graffiti-strewn hellhole frequented by psychos. I suggest trying somewhere else.

2. When passing through a children's play area, be sure to leave a broken beer bottle on the ground. Sure, it's a thoughtless act that could injure an innocent youngster, but you never know when you'll need a jagged bottle-neck for a weapon.

3. Relax, have fun, but don't overdo the alcohol: there's always the possibility that, while you're out cold, strangers will sneak into your camp, steal your boots, bottles of water, guns, the very tent you're sleeping in, and your dog, and, while they're at it, draw a cross on your forehead for s**ts and giggles.

4. Try to leave all unnecessary electronic gadgets at home: constant phone calls from work will only create tension amongst your fellow campers, and that GPS tracking device might be more trouble than it's worth.

5. If pursued by a gun-toting maniac, try to avoid trapping yourself in a confined space that offers next to no protection. For example, a plastic portaloo.

6. Remember: an earring and some string make a handy makeshift needle and thread for the self-treatment of serious head injuries.

7. Murderous locals are tricksy blighters: never be tempted to turn your back on them, even if they look like they're down for the count.

8. If you discover your stolen water bottles suspended suspiciously from a tree, take care to look where you're treading when you go to retrieve them.

9. Should you need to return to your vehicle at any time during your stay, take the path—it's a lot easier than scaling a crumbling cliff-face.

10. As undeniably impressive as it is to lower yourself upside-down from a branch and throttle someone with jump leads, it might be easier (and a lot more effective) to simply shoot them.

As you've probably guessed, Preservation is one hell of a dumb film. It's also extremely predictable, writer/director Christopher Denham opting to take the path well travelled rather than risk going off the beaten track. The film borrows heavily from numerous other survival horrors, most notably UK hoodie horror Eden Lake and French home invasion flick Them (AKA Ils), and its commentary about society's lax attitude to media violence and our over-reliance on technology is both trite and ham-fisted. Technically, the film fares well enough, with accomplished cinematography and editing, and decent performances, but with such a weak script, Preservation proves positively pitiful overall.
could have been OK, but wasn't2/10
OK, teens as killers who communicate with one another only via text and violence. I can dig that. (One reviewer complains about how the heavy handed "messaging" of having them text when they're sitting right next to each other, but I've seen that happen, so I think that's a fair comment on our techno-generation.) But the character development of the three main protagonists is incredibly weak and the first two kills are ridiculous as protagonists, including a combat-hardened veteran who manages to best an armed and towered sniper with a stick lashed to his hand, decide to turn their backs on their antagonists without verifying that they are actually incapacitated or weaponless. WTF! Also, once we see the size of the teens in question (one of them a wheezing asthmatic), the idea that they could go mano a mano in physical combat as they do with two big strapping grown men (did I mention that one of them is a combat veteran?) is also absurd. If you're gonna make your killers beanpole teens, you'd better give them better strategies for killing grown men who see them coming than hand to hand combat and playing possum, if you want to keep any credibility as a thriller. Too bad, because the movie does have some good scenes--the lead killer almost drowning one of the other killers to make him not run home to mom, his face vibrating with sadistic delight behind his skull face mask, is effectively chilling. A little more thought given to the script and the choreography of the kills could have improved this flick a lot.
terrible waste of time1/10
WHERE OH WHERE DO I BEGIN WITH THIS LOAD OF ROT...... This was the worst movie I have seen in a long time, the acting was below sub standard on all accounts, the storyline well NONE of it was at all believable and the antagonists were badly portrayed . I mean seriously psycho hunter killer children who ride push bikes and call their mommies about soccer practice....who by the way were all taken down by a small woman.....yet somehow an ex military soldier was unable to do so....Argghhh O.K HIGHLY BELIEVABLE...I would give it half a star, but that is not allowed, the half star would be for the few moments of comedy I got from it in certain places that were just utterly ridiculous. I have never ever written a critique on any forum regarding a movie, but this one prompted me to do so.
"You killed my dog. Now I kill you."2/10
After the frustrating exercise in boredom that was Home Movie (2008), director Christopher Denham hasn't improved with this sophomore effort, as he heads out into the wilderness for yet another survival horror movie that offers no originality and little reason to care!

Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) and Mike (Aaron Staton) are joined by Mike's brother, Sean (Pablo Schreiber), on a camping trip. Yet tensions are high as everyone is dealing with their personal baggage - Mike is a stressed out workaholic, Wit is pregnant and keeping it a secret, whilst Sean (having recently been discharged from the military) may be suffering from PTSD. The trio awaken the next morning to find their supplies missing, an X marked on their foreheads and Mike blaming Sean as the culprit - so far, so good, but as the plot progresses, it only falls deeper and deeper into mediocrity.

Lack of clear characterization has a big hand to play here. In any movie of this ilk, there has to be a genuine reason for the audience to fear for the safety of these characters, for example, in the criminally underrated French horror film, Inside (2007), a heavily pregnant woman is stalked and harassed by an unknown assailant. We can't help but root for this woman, who is barely able to walk properly, let alone defend herself. Compare that with Preservation's near-sociopathic leads; hardly people you want to emotionally invest in. Not to mention the fact that Sean (and to an extent Mike) is praised as being a ninja- like expert on the great outdoors, only for that little nugget of information to fall completely flat later on. Most of the fault here lies at Denham's feet (who also wrote the film), why bother providing characters with a certain backstory only for it to go flying out the window?

Yet, it's the fact that the movie plays like a poor imitation of Eden Lake (2007), that's really grating. Most of the scenes feel cherry- picked from the British horror, minus any of the tension. Therefore Wit (albeit a decent character) is no match for Kelly Reilly's Jenny, whose transformation into a survivor was a more harrowing and exciting experience. On top of all this, Denham's constant droning commentary (which is none too subtle) on the prevalence of violence and its links with media, makes the proceedings all the more worse. He spares no expense to get this rather shallow (and easy-target) message across, even to the point of sacrificing a decent performance by Wrenn Schmidt and reducing his film to nothing more than a by-the-numbers thriller filled with all the usual cliches.

Preservation might provide some thrills for those new to this particular sub-genre, but seasoned veterans will view it as the pedestrian amalgamation of far superior films that it is.
I'm confused5/10
Preservation opens with a series of shots trailing an old 4x4 making its way from suburbia into the wilderness. Eventually we move inside the cab of the truck to eavesdrop on the conversation of the driver and his companion in the passenger seat, who comes off as a sociopath giggling at an online video of a cat being flushed down the toilet, and recalling how he knocked over an oil can as a kid and splashed the contents all over his father, but thankfully the driver - his big brother - protected him and always had his best interests at heart.

So let's stop right there and see if you're with me up to this point, four or five minutes into the movie. Knowing only a few details about the plot coming into this, we can safely assume these are going to be the killers who stalk the nice people, right? Especially when they take guns out of the car and reminisce about shooting small animals when they were younger, correct? In fact, no! These are your central characters/protagonists, ladies and gentlemen, which takes what would have been a fairly pedestrian thriller down a few notches to fail territory, in my view. Preservation features such largely despicable characters that you in no way root for anyone in the whole affair, be it these two aforementioned brothers, the wife of one of them whose attraction to such a loser you can simply not fathom, nor the eventual real antagonists who make their presence felt with an incomprehensible combination of stealthy brilliance and clumsy stupidity.

There is a critic review floating around here somewhere that compares Preservation to Adam Wingard's You're Next, suggesting each one may have its merits but that Preservation is ultimately the superior, more intense film. Let's put that notion to rest right now: You're Next might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is miles more accomplished than Preservation, a derivative, illogical, and ultimately lazy effort whose script is about as subtle as a swinging butt of a rifle to your head.