VOD film review: Preservation
Ivan Radford | On 15, May 2015
Director: Christopher Denham
Cast: Pablo Schreiber, Aaron Staton, Wrenn Scmidt
Watch Preservation online in the UK: Shudder UK / Amazon Prime / Sky Store / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Pornstache leaves the confines of Orange Is the New Black and escapes into the wild in Preservation, which premieres on VOD this week. For someone so well known for a streaming show, it’s perhaps fitting that Pablo Schreiber’s thriller should follow a group of technology addicts.
He plays Sean, the war veteran brother of Mike (Aaron Staton), who spends more time checking emails on his phone than talking to his wife, Wit (Wrenn Schmidt). Her plan? A weekend camping in the woods to get back to nature, put away their GPS gadgets and reconnect. But when they wake up the following morning to find their gear has been taken – and crosshairs have been painted on their foreheads – things take a turn for the murderous.
It’s a neat enough spin on the survival horror formula and one that writer-director Christopher Denham wisely emphasises throughout. Mobile phones and video games are repeatedly referenced, both through communication and killings, a theme that gives an added dimension to the inevitable transformation of our innocents into barbarians.
That doesn’t stop it being inevitable, though: Preservation’s predictable obedience to genre conventions removes a lot of surprise from our trio’s fight to stay alive. A cheesy line in dialogue doesn’t help matters either. But the cast are certainly up for it: Pablo Schreiber has as much fun as possible with his obvious role as a soldier on the edge (“You want to play? Let’s play!”) while Staton’s selfish husband, gradually becoming aware of his shortcomings, is likeable enough. It is Schmidt who impresses the most, though, as she toughens up from a vegan who couldn’t bear to shoot a deer with a sniper rifle to a hardened warrior.
Denham shoots events with an equally recognisable handheld style – even the introduction of BMX bikes feels familiar – but it all channels back into the lingering question of technology and life without it. The usual dilemma of what you would do to ensure self-preservation becomes a more intriguing question of how desensitised society has become thanks to games such as Call of Duty. The idea doesn’t always feels quite as provocative or rounded as it could be – our killers are more disjointed than disturbing – but for those in the mood for a 90-minute diversion, Preservation is well worth a stream. Presuming, of course, that you still want to go near a computer.
Preservation is available on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.