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Midlands Feature Review - Survival Instinct

By midlandsmovies, Jan 10 2016 01:39PM

Survival Instinct (2015) Dir. Steve Lawson

1 hour 15 minutes from Creativ-Studios

Beginning with a distressed woman running through woods from an unknown presence, Survival Instinct from Leicester director Steve Lawson uses this chase metaphor to tell a tale of hunting and violence after a bloody accident leads to ominous repercussions.

Shot around Derbyshire, a young boy is unable to shoot a deer with his recently released from prison father before we follow a couple, Stacey and Thom, in a car heading to a wedding event through the rural Peak District. Overheating in the middle of a desolate forest road, the vehicle comes to a halt and Stacey (a superb Helen Crevel) heads off in search of coolant in a hope to still make the wedding she has been asked to play her violin at.

Cutting back to father and son, the boy still is unable to shoot the wounded animal and a struggle sees a accidental wayward bullet cause huge problems for the pair as Thom (Jay Sutherland) is hit. Not wanting to return to jail, the father (Andrew Coughlan) forces his son Rex into covering up the crime.

A convenient phone battery problem along with a ticking-over car means she is unable to contact anyone and later when a gun jams we have the trilogy of b-movie clichés but it’s all explained why in the taut and efficient script.

A solid idea with a few lines of clunky script – it tells more than it shows at times during the set up – this can be forgiven with a well-structured story that doesn’t distract from the movie’s central conflict.

Well filmed with some great atmospheric music from Alex Young building up tension, writer-director Steve Lawson uses a wide variety of cinematic tricks including jump scares, slow build ups and a menacing soundtrack to ratchet up the feeling of dread.

A twist on some genre tropes sees Stacey’s perfume proving to be a problem whilst the babbling brooks, leafy forest and dark undergrowth set the scene well for the film’s game of cat and mouse. Stacey’s formal attire for the wedding contrasts with the wild woodland and earthy soil she stumbles through in her attempts to escape.

Although the premise is pure B-movie, the filming, pacing and sobering issues it covers lends itself to a much more horrific tale than if it played to the schlock audience. Towards the end, some well constructed landscape shops seem almost from another movie but showcase the talent Lawson has for a great cinematic shot.

A particular well-designed sequence occurs when Stacey returns to the car and Lawson builds up some almost unbearable tense moments for the characters and audience. And the ending scenes at night further help to raise the stakes for the film’s finale.

In short, this well-made feature has an element of Wolf Creek and the on-location grime works perfectly for the sinister stalk that ensures. It’s low budget for sure but there’s a lot more going on under the surface of this movie than just a horrific human hunt. So if you are searching for a Saturday night stalker flick then track this movie down and you’ll find a superb local no-frills thriller.


Midlands Movies Mike



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