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projectcyclops [Celluloid 08.01.11] post apocalyptic movie review scifi

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Year: 2011
Directors: Justin McConnell
Writers: Justin McConnell, Kevin Hutchinson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 6 out of 10

Low budget but surprisingly well put together horror-thriller from Canada sees a family of four – mother, father, daughter and son – fleeing Toronto as the end-of-the-world takes place around them. An unseen force is causing the population to start randomly murdering one another and it’s turned the cities into nightmarish war zones. After boosting a car the group makes their way into the forest with the plan of hiking to safety, but their troubles are only just beginning. Justin McConnell’s feature debut is a nuts-n-bolts thriller with broadly decent acting and effects; it’s nothing amazing but certainly passes the time and takes a few surprising risks in its plotting and twist ending.

We begin with a bank of television screens showing stock footage of rioting and police brutality, as one by one the screens cut to static we’re in familiar territory – it’s the end of days. We cut to day-for-night shots of the Weaver family, moving from abandoned factory to underground station in an attempt to find shelter and safety. Scott, the father, is a take charge kinda guy who will do anything to protect his family, and thank god for that otherwise they wouldn’t last a day. After finding a place to spend the night the family talks in muted tones about “It” and “The crazy people” and the usual discussion of whether things will ever return to normal. “It’s as if the government wanted this, they did nothing,” muses daughter Rebecca. Pretty soon they’re on the move again and as they enter the forest - our main location for the film - things get pretty claustrophobic as danger is random and lurks behind every tree. If they can reach an old holiday spot called Dover’s Bend the family believes they’ll find a safe zone, but the sinister force has followed them from the city and starts playing malevolent and often deadly games.

Paranoia takes hold.


Scoring 2.7 on Imdb at time of writing, it seems The Collapsed has polarized audiences and critics, although watching the film with absolutely no preconceptions I found it a perfectly adequate addition to the genre. The style of direction is very evocative of old 70’s/80’s horror and had me spotting nods to The Crazies and Evil Dead, two films The Collapsed owes serious debt to, but it has a few original ideas of it’s own too. There are several plot holes that you could drive a bus through – Why on earth would a woman care about shaving her legs during the apocalypse? Why carry large hardback books when hiking? – But overlooking these it’s a solid piece of work from a young director. The camera work is good, the sound effects and original score are pretty polished and the lead performance from the amusingly named John Fantasia (surely a screen name?) holds the film together. There are a few moments where the budget restrictions show, especially in the last act which takes place in a domestic setting and looks cheap and ugly, but it was a shrewd move on McConnell’s part to shoot the majority of the film in a woodland setting, naturally a spooky environment.

The main issue I had with The Collapsed is that it’s pretty badly written; clichés abound and aren’t forgiven for a neat twist at the end. There’s father/son bonding moments where all is forgiven, mother/daughter chats and naughty shared cigarettes while the boys are hunting for food, and another scene where a fridge full of beer and food provides a moment of comfort for our heroes. There’s even a flashback scene set before the phenomenon where the family are having dinner which is so reminiscent of “The Road” that I did a double take. Maybe these moments aren’t so much clichés as they are Standard Plot Moments which are supposed to be relatable but actually take one out of the movie for their banality. I also found it frustrating that we hear so much uttered about the “It” that skulks around the forest tormenting our characters but we never see It, only being treated to growling POV shots that lurk in the bushes and shrubbery, threatening to attack but never properly showing themselves as anything other than malevolent oxygen. The reasons for this become clear eventually, but it is a little annoying when you can’t actually identify the threat that the characters are responding to. Whatever though, it’s still a decent little thriller in itself.

So, it’s not perfect but it’s certainly not deserving of a 2.7 score. My rating is a solid 6/10 and a recommendation for PA fans, or anyone who likes a bit of in-the-woods shocks, but can overlook the odd sentimental or tired formulaic moments in favour of some brutal horror and slick directorial flourishes from the clearly talented McConnell, whose career I’ll follow with interest.

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Justin McConnell (3 years ago) Reply

Thanks for the review. About the 2.7 - if you click through you'll see that's IMDb's broken and weird 'weighted average' system giving it that. Our actual arithmetic average is 7.2.

I know it's odd for the director to comment here, but I do hope people do what you did and go in cold - because our reviews have been split about 60(positive)/40(negative/middle ground) - so discover for yourself as an audience, then judge. Enjoy!

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skullan (3 years ago) Reply

@Justin

I'll watch it, just to try to figure out where the family of four finds that many hand-guns in Canada :)

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Justin McConnell (3 years ago) Reply

My armorer. Seriously though, the family actually only has one handgun with them the entire duration of the film. And a rifle. But I say no more plot wise.

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John Fantasia (3 years ago) Reply

Dear projectcyclops. I never reply to a reviewers post as every one is entitled to their opinion. In fact I thank you for taking the time to review The Collapsed. Although I take no offense that my name amuses you, I should for the record clarify that "Fantasia" is of Italian origin. Walt Disney may have started the trend but I have many relatives in Italy with that last name that go back many many generations, way before Mr Disney even had the inkling he was going to come up with "Fantasia" the movie.
Again, thank you for taking the time to reveiw The Collapsed and allowing me to set the record straight......for your amusement, John Fantasia.

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projectcyclops (3 years ago) Reply

Thanks for the comments Justin and John, I hope your film is seen by more people as it's a fine example of itself and you both obviously care a lot about getting things straight, which is admirable.

My email is on the team page if you'd like to stay in touch about further projects.

PC

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ToeCutter (3 years ago) Reply

How does everyone get to see these films?

I've checked all the usual sources and can't find any mention of this flick?

These low budget film makers should sell DVDs direct on the web. I'd really like to check this one out.

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agentorange (3 years ago) Reply

Smaller films rely on buzz from the festival circuit to help get decent distribution. That results in blogs like QE covering them early.

I think we're seeing quicker releasing of films than we have in the past, but yeah, it's tough to wait sometimes.

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Justin McConnell (3 years ago) Reply

It will be a bit of a wait, but I can tell you at this point you won't have any trouble finding it when it's officially released on BluRay/DVD/VOD. Our release date is looking like the first month of 2012 at this point, and we've sold to 5 territories worldwide thus far (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan)... fairly sizeable distro too. For the time being, the film will be continuing it's festival run over the next 4 months or so. Just check the homepage (www.thecollapsed.com) for screening dates as they're announced.


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