Director : Xavier Gems
Cast : Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney Vance, Ashton Holmes, Rosanna Arquette, Iván González and Michael Eklund
Michael Biehn was one of the quintessential action stars of the eighties thanks to appearances in “Aliens”, “The Abyss” and “The Terminator”, but the roles soon dried up and it has been a long time since he featured on screen in British cinemas, with (and I stand to be corrected) his last appearance on the big screen in the UK coming in 2007’s “Planet Terror”. I have seen a few of his independent films since his heyday and it is safe to say that he is one of those actors that appears in a lot of films, but very rarely are they any good.
I’m hoping that this turns out to be a better effort than some of the others, and I always like films with a psychological edge of them. Had this just been a generic post-apocalyptic then I wouldn’t have even given it a second glance, but when I saw how the characters change as time and radiation goes on, I think I might just enjoy this.
Plot : A nuclear missile is launched on New York and the residents of an apartment building flee towards the basement, with eight making it into Mickey’s (Biehn) basement bomb-shelter. After several days of arguing, a group of soldiers in bio suits make their way into the apartment and kidnap Wendi (Abbey Thickson), but the group manages to kill one of the soldiers before they leave. Josh (Ventimiglia) volunteers to go out and see what it is like, but he is forced back into the shelter when he is discovered. The soldiers then weld the door shut.
Devlin (Vance) soon discovers that Mickey has some other food stored away, but Mickey kills him before he can tell the rest of the group, however, they soon figure it out and force their way in. The fail to ration the food however and it quickly disappears. and the fact that several of the group are showing signs of radiation poisoning (such as hair falling out) causes several members to turn crazy.
So, another Biehn film that is disappointing?
Unfortunately I do have to say that despite having a creepy atmosphere and look, there is unfortunately a lot missing from the film that made it enjoyable throughout the majority of a run time that goes on for far longer than it really should do.
I’m going to start with the stuff that I liked that the first is the little things that are done, such as how characters visually degrade over time, some lose their hair, others start getting visual defects to their eyes, but what makes it work is that the changes are subtle over time. In “Silent Hill” there was an effect used in which the central character’s costume gradually changes throughout the film, changing from the summery outfit to one that is dark and far different than what she turned up with, and it works because it was done subtle changes in each scene. When the changes are done subtly, it is almost like they’re done there and then for the first time.
One such example is the below image (not my own) of Bobby, who is seemingly one of the main protagonists at first but soon turns into one of the two central villains.
That’s about as far as my positive comments extend.
For me the main problem is that the majority of the characters just aren’t that interesting. By the time that some characters start turning insane, you’re really struggling to give a shit about them and the situation that they’re in. I am glad that they got rid of the kid early as it helps at least give her mother some form of development, but beyond that she doesn’t really do anything worthwhile for the whole film.
Mickey is the only worthwhile and developed character. I actually sympathise with Mickey for the most part, he is clearly unstable and mentally vulnerable, but right from the off everyone is disrespecting him and demanding stuff from him. I don’t think he is once thanked for letting them stay there, or indeed sharing his food.
I found myself getting bored on a regular basis and being able to scan away from the screen to look at my phone, and that is never a good thing.