Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Collapsed and Covering Your Tracks: A Movie Review

*here be major spoilers.

**full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Justin McConnell of Unstable Ground.

Director: Justin McConnell.

Writers: Justin McConnell and Kevin Hutchinson.

The Collapsed is a Canadian produced thriller released May 27th, 2011 theatrically. This title has also moved to certain cable providers (June 10th) and director Justin McConnell's first feature film is not without its flaws. However, there is a lot to enjoy in The Collapsed. One of the more interesting elements is the post-apocalyptic landscape in which the film is set. As well, the genre of psychological thriller is one, which if done right, creates tension amongst characters while balancing opposing forces of dark and light. The Collapsed gets many of the broad strokes correct, but some of the tension is reduced by a predictable plotline.

A family of four begins in a ruined urban setting, as the father, Scott Weaver (John Fantasia) tries to lead them to the safety of Dover's Bend. Here, Scott, Aaron (Steve Vieira), Rebecca (Anna Moss) and Emily (Lisa Moule) hope to wait out a mysterious, wide ranging and sometimes cannibalistic war. The warriors are often in the background appearing here and there; yet, they rarely turn up in the flesh, so to speak. So, clearly this is not a straightforward thriller and the psychological approach to screenwriting and filmmaking begins to seep into the reels early. One character's appearance at the wrong place at the wrong time also signals a possible source of bloody murder.

*major spoiler territory folks.

This former happy, travelling family of four is now a little more sombre with the loss of the matriach and of a young daughter. Suspicion in the viewer will begin to mount at this point, as to the instigator of violence. McConnell, unfortunately, does not cover the tracks of the true killer. An external source to the tragedy could have been given more attention, in order to create red herrings and misdirections to mask the killer's true identity. Or, possibly, this film lover has seen far too many films. Either way, there is still a great deal of tension in The Collapsed, as this psychological thriller now centrally becomes a battle of man against himself.

The final few scenes are especially well done, as the source of an infection is given a back story. An "it" has been infecting human beings through unknown means. This "it" has a consciousness and "it" likes to create turmoil and distress indirectly, through those "it" controls. No known human infection has consciousness, so this "it" would have to be other-worldly, or something undiscovered. In the end, McConnell has created a nice overlap of the psychological onto tragedy, with the final few moments covered in horrifying blood. A battle with the self, sadly, can only lead to self-destruction.

Most recently, The Collapsed has moved to the Superchannel (June 10th) and to cable providers in the United States July 2nd. If your are a suspense fan, then skip any promotional material on this film and forget what you read in this review. Instead, rent, order or find a theatre broadcasting this film in order to enjoy the tension of the film fully. Otherwise you may guess or deduce some of the major plot points early, which is a mistake that this reviewer made.

Casting/characterizations: 7 (the central performances were well done, one or two peripheral characters broke the veil of believability for this film watcher).
Directing techniques/camera angles: 6.5 (overuse of point-of-view from the supposed antagonist - this makes the real killer obvious).
Setting/believability: 7.75 (good use of sound early in the film and throughout, this was a positive quality from the film).

Overall: 7 (enjoyable, some of the mystery is dispelled halfway in).

The Collapsed at Unstable Ground:

The Collapsed at Unstable Ground

A positive review of The Collapsed by Michael Gingold at Fangoria is here:

The Collapsed Reviewed at Fangoria (Micahel Gingold)

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