SURVIVORS (2015)

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 26th October 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Adam J Spinks (Extinction – Jurassic Predators)

Cast: Joanne Gale, David Anderson, Simon Burbage and Adrian Annis

Writer: Adam J Spinks & Lawrence Timms

Trailer: SURVIVORS (2015)

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A reasonable attempt at a no-budget zombie flick that is a cut above the rest because plot momentum is kept. Well-performed in the main by two of the three leads, its certainly an improvement on the majority of z-grade apocalypse movies. The camera man seems to be strong enough to hold the camera steady, the editor seems to know what he’s doing and there are some interesting supporting characters in the mix.

Joanne Gale’s Reporter stumbles on a government conspiracy to keep an ongoing outbreak of a virsu that turns everybody into mind less killers. She contacts her exboyfriend, Duke (SIMON BURBAGE – KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED) to be her camera man. He annoys the hell out of her before they literally spilt up. Then in a later parallel story, Joanne is paired off with a mysterious man called Michael – the slightly wooden David Anderson (ADULT LIFE SKILLS) – who may have something to do with the virus. In parallel storylines both duos set off across England trying to survive.

Some scenes work better than others, depending on the supporting actor wheeled in to run the scene. Are they friend or foe? etc. The unknown Adrian Annis impresses the most as a muddled-up thug who’s gone past the point of return. The music and the locations are generally good as well for this kind of thing.

So whilst Survivors is far from brilliant, it’s at least watchable and once it ditches the annoying ‘found-footage’ framing after 15 minutes it begins to become more and more involving. You even begin to get used to Anderson’s weird non-acting style. Its the closest thing to a middle of the road zombie flick I’ve ever seen because it has no original ideas but it accomplishes more than the average low-grade zombie flick by concentrating on the characters and their predicaments and the gore and zombies are kept on the fringes, seen all too fleeting until it’s too late. Not a bad debut.

3.5 out of 10 – Above average, no budget flick made in the main by wanna-bes and amateurs.

Also see Matt Usher’s review below for more insights

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “SURVIVORS (2015)

  1. REVIEW by Matt ‘I will survive’ Usher

    Imagine being a journalist on the ground as a major earth-shattering event unfolds around you. Now imagine completely missing the story because you’re looking in the wrong direction (literally). Such is the pickle our plucky heroine finds herself in in this almost interesting zombie apocalypse non-extravaganza. But missing the story is the least of her problems, what with there being a zombie apocalypse going on, but she’s also in a terrible fate-worse-than-death-situation: stranded at the heart of a found-footage film with a terminally irritating cameraman.

    Anyone familiar with writer-director Adam Spinks’ previous film (EXTINCTION – JURASSIC SOMETHING OR OTHER, a bonkers attempt at making an Amazonian-rain-forest-set dinosaur movie in Wales with a budget of about £2.50) will be familiar with the ‘irritating and unnecessary cameraman’ trope. Are cameramen annoying? They tend to be when they inhabit found-footage films, and it’s truly a blessed relief when this one goes AWOL. Indeed, if Mr Spinks learnt anything from making his monster movie it wasn’t that you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew, it was that you should jettison any characters who risk making the audience smash their heads into the screen. Fortunately the film finds a rather good way of ditching the found-footage framing device halfway through. Hurrah!

    The film flashes back and forth between two timezones. The earlier sections follow fearless would-be journalist Kate and her rubbish cameraman Duke, as they attempt to uncover a scandal at a medical testing unit thingy. Kate interviews someone, and gets some top secret files. And look, I know they’re meant to be amateur investigators, or at least, very inexperienced. That’s fine. But. The thing they’re investigating leads to the zombie plague and Kate and Duke don’t even notice. So they leave just as the zombie rampage commences, and go for a cup of tea as the town falls apart around them (at one point Kate is reading the explosive secret documents even as, behind her on the TV, the first reports of zombie carnage are coming through).

    The second part of the story eschews the hand-held camera (hurrah) and follows Kate after the fall. This is good (a) because Duke is very annoying and (b) because it means the film-makers have to film stuff properly. Unfortunately this section just has Kate wandering about looking a bit befuddled in the company of a bloke who looks a bit like a young Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, who may or may not have a dark secret (though neither I nor (it seems) the writer know what that secret was). They try to escape from the madhouse that Britain has become (there’s probably a metaphor there) and end up in all sorts of scrapes. The ending is likely to divide viewers.

    I like the idea that the zombie outbreak is happening off-screen. That makes sense financially and philosophically: most stories are inevitably and obviously about the drama’s central protagonists, Hamlet rather than Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. SURVIVORS is a film about a Rosencrantz and a Guildenstern, caught up in someone else’s Hamlet, out of their depth and marooned in a sea of zombiedom. Fair enough. SO WHY DID THE SCRIPT REQUIRE OUR HEROES TO INVESTIGATE THE THING THAT CAUSES ALL THE TROUBLE? THAT PUTS THEM AT THE HEART OF THE DRAMA! By being centre stage the film puts them in a Hamlet position, but by having them have domestic-type arguments as the zombies maraud, the film puts them in Rosencrantz positions. Whenever anything happens that’s related to the zombie outbreak our hapless duo utterly fail to make the connection between it and the thing they’re investigating. They really are quite monumentally stupid. Surely if the film was meant to be about some people who (a) happen to have a camera on them and (b) get caught up in a zombie holocaust, wouldn’t it be better to have them be amateur film-makers, protestors, pornographers, or people making documentaries about jam-making in the local area?

    Either of these ideas (journalist investigates stuff which leads to a plague outbreak / oblivious bystanders getting swept up in zombie-armageddon) could have made a perfectly good basis for a film. But they don’t work together. I quite like the way that Kate and Duke have no idea what’s going on, it’s just that, given what they’re up to, they should.

    SURVIVORS is a million times better than Mr Spinks’ previous fruitcakeloopy film, and that’s an accurate, scientifically validated calculation. It’s still pretty average, but it’s a considerably more successful piece of work. The script and story, although hardly award-worthy, take note of the budgetary constraints and work within them. The film has a good, drained-out look to it. If you’re the sort of quite normal person who only watches the occasional zombie holocaust film, then you may well place this one quite highly, not least because the actual zombie element is kept resolutely in the background. Our heroes operate on the principal of ‘gosh these people look dead but angry – let’s leg it!’ so the zombies themselves (which are of the snail-paced variety) don’t get much of a look-in. The film benefits from decent acting (the smug bloke is very punchable, the mysterious non-assassin has a kind of haunted edge to him, and the investigator avoids feistiness but can still do pluck). There are some nice details along the way, it’s well shot (given the usual found-footage caveats), and, when dispensing with the found-footage thing (hurrah!), has a palpable sense of disorientation. If we have to have a serious-minded micro-budget British found-footage zombie disaster film then it might as well be this one.

    But there is of course one burning issue remaining. How does SURVIVORS the film compare with Survivors the 1970s television series? The latter revolved around the aftermath of a (zombie-less) global plague. The eponymous figures then set about rebuilding the world in a similar manner to Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal in The Good Life. OK, quite different then. The famously litigious Terry Nation estate need not concern itself.

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