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SURVIVAL was made in the true 'grindhouse' style of filmmaking, with an ultra low budget, and a shooting schedule of under 1 week. The result is a backpacking trip gone horribly wrong, with some truly graphic scenes of torture and mayhem thrown in for good measure.
Take one part TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, mixed with a bit of WRONG TURN and dash of FRIDAY THE 13TH, and you have yourself SURVIVAL. The film did a great job creating that 'grindhouse' feel from the 70s and 80s, and as it's essentially a tribute to that era and style of filmmaking, it hit all the right marks and deserves a spot on the shelf of 'backwoods horror' with the rest of them.
It's familiar storyline may have done it more harm than good, as it was fairly obvious from the get-go what was going to happen, who was going to die, who was going to live and all that fun stuff. Essentially, if you've seen TCM (either the original or the remake) you've seen SURVIVAL. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but that lack of surprise and originality just wasn't there.
The acting was decent, with exceptional performances by Don Prentiss as the psychopathic 'Rufus', and both Matt McClure and Ian C. King held their own as the heroic lead victim. I could actually see those dudes becoming 'big' in the future- they nailed their parts and I believed them! The female leads also rocked the house, but I'm sad to report that while there were plenty of opportunities, the film lacked any scenes of gratuitous nudity - which would have worked wonders for a throwback to 70s & 80s horror.
My biggest complaint would have to be the film's overall lack of musical score. I know it sounds weird to say, but I think if music was used it would have heightened that sense of terror and on-screen horror, and would have helped the picture out as a whole. Scenes that were just so-so on the terror scale would have been through the roof with a little music to accompany it. But hey, that's just me. I can see where they were coming from, and I believe that silence can also be scary, but it would've done wonders if done properly here.
This leaves my take on the filmmakers. Writer/director Joe Francis and co-writer/producer Kevin Woods took $1200 (raised from an auction on eBay, no less) and made a professional looking film that was better than some Hollywood flick's I've seen. They have a love for the genre and filmmaking in general, and it showed. With a bigger budget and a studio to back them up, these guys would be phenomenal. Props!
Audio: Adequate and what you'd expect for a low budget flick of this nature. Again, it's lack of 'perfect' sound actually helped contribute to that 'grindhouse' feel, so the so-so sound worked for it's advantage.