Survival Instinct (2016) Review

survival1Survival Instinct (2016)

Written & Directed by Steve Lawson

Starring: Helen Crevel, Andrew Coughlan, Jay Sutherland & Sam Smith

UK Release theatrically by Film Volt (February 2016)

What’s it all about? Ex-Con Weaver takes his son, Rex, on a deer hunt in The Lake District to teach him to be a man, but when they come across a couple of friends travelling to a wedding the plans change.

A low budgeter that sets out to surprise us with its twists and provide us with a villain who is understandably disturbed. I have the impression that writer/director Lawson wanted his audience left feeling some sympathy for Coughlan’s Weaver. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite come off and as a whole the film never quite achieves its aims.

In order for a film like this to work we need to feel tension and suspense and for all the hard work put in by those involved there is none. Weaver is a messed up dude, no doubt, but once he starts hunting Stacey (Helen Crevel) it never feels like she is going to be caught, mainly because there’s still a good deal of the film left to run and there wouldn’t be much to do if her caught her right away now, would there?

survival2The camera work is a little too static which makes the chase feel flat and unexciting which is a shame as the story is set up nicely enough has a fast pace and a lean running time. Crevel, who also starred in Lawson’s previous pic KillerSaurus, is fine in the lead role of Stacey, but her turn from weak to strong, finding her Survival Instinct, felt a little too convenient whilst Coughlan as Weaver isn’t quite menacing enough to be a great bad guy. Effort is made to give him a back story, offering an insight into his behaviour, however it matters little due to what has come before. Smith as his son Rex, comes across ok in a decent performance, showing nervous innocence as he reluctantly follows his father on his crazed hunt.

Jay Sutherland has a smaller role as Thom and is fine in what he delivers. We just never really care for anyone and although the film tries to twist itself into a clever finale it is all rather predictable and by the time the fireworks have finished there’s a feeling of having seen it all before, but done better.

survival3In fairness, the film has a low budget and it’s never easy when restricted by expense. Corners have to be cut, concessions have to be made and there are limitations you have to suffer in order to get the film made. With that in mind credit must be given for getting the project into a flowing, neat movie. It’s not a terrible piece of fiction. It is well put together, it just doesn’t hit it’s marks and it could have made better use of it’s location too.

I’ve not seen any of Lawson’s previous movies, but he appears to be an active filmmaker and KillerSaurus has a fun title so I may give it a look if I happen across it some time.


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Tony Sands

About Tony Sands

Tony Sands Trained actor. Wannabe writer and constant daydreamer who loves a little bit of evil. Even Saints can be sinners