Film

Preservation Brings the Human-Hunting Genre Into the Modern World

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Christopher Denham’s Preservation is a violent yet agreeably goofy throwback to the survival-in-the-woods genre, with shades of Southern Comfort, Deliverance, and even The Blair Witch Project (though it’s not found-footage, thank goodness).

Heading into a closed nature preserve for a weekend of shooting at four-legged animals are recent war veteran Sean (Pablo Schreiber), his brother Mike (Mad Men‘s Aaron Staton, continuing to have awful luck on camping trips), and Mike’s wife, Wit (Wrenn Schmidt), a vegan anesthesiologist who doesn’t care for killing, nor how Pablo brings out Mike’s latent nozzlehood.

They wake to find their stuff is gone, X’s marked on their foreheads, and that they’re being hunted by an indeterminate number of bad people. Preservation hits all of its marks, including red herrings galore — all movie war veterans are inherently unhinged, right? — and the aptly named Wit as an old-school Final Girl who gets herself a truly hardcore First Blood moment.

The film also brings its genre into the modern world; the heroes have smartphones with GPS, but so do the villains, who take the film in an unexpected direction. The revelation of their true natures could be perceived as a commentary of the dehumanization of modern life or whatever, but it’s also just funny and silly, and that’s more important.