Survivors Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
Released by Initiative Motion Pictures
Directed by Adam Spinks
Written by Adam Spinks and Laurence Timms
2015, 92 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 18th October 2015
David Anderson as Paul
Adrian Annis as Alan
Simon Burbage as Duke Wilcott
Lucy Chappell as Teenage Girl
Ali Currey as Lily Deschanel
Survivors is the second movie from director Adam J. Spinks after his debut Extinction, which also premiered earlier 2015. You can expect a similar anarchic medley of action in this fairly relentless post-apocalyptic found footage movie.
Kate Meadows is an independent journalist covering the mysterious disappearance of patients from a medical facility called Medea. She’s accompanied by her cameraman Duke and the two of them investigate just what has been going on. A clinician secretly agrees to meet with them and tells them that the facility has been using humans as test subjects to develop biological weapons using a contagion. Kate wants to investigate further and tries to extract a confession from the head of the centre – a Dr Williams (also known as the Dick for obvious reasons), but her efforts go to waste.
Soon there are reports of people getting sick, the police start to cordon off the roads and there’s talk of a government evacuation. All has gone downhill terribly fast with Kate and Duke still trying to get to the bottom of the story and understand just what is happening in their city.
Spinks has managed to fuse together the found footage medium and conventional cinematic storytelling. It works to a certain degree; there are live action sequences, harsh cuts and documentation of the unfolding events which are quite realistic. With a better budget, the police might have looked believable along with other bizarre scenarios and random characters which appeared from nowhere, but came from everywhere. We have to remember that this film was made for just £5000 (and before Extinction). With a good imagination and a sense of humour, it’s watchable, despite some overlong and unnecessary scenes.
Speaking with Adam after the UK premiere he was able to explain his reasons behind the style of Survivors.
“One storyline follows the other and one begins where the other one ends. For us it was narratively motivated and we hadn’t seen it done before, so we thought we’d give it a go. It was a conscious choice to go choppier at the beginning, then we defined the scenes so that you don’t see the joins much and the sections become longer too. We didn’t want it to be choppy all the way through. It was a deliberate decision to divide the stories until hopefully people realised that the beginning was the end.”
You do get a sense of Spinks’ deliberate style choice. Locked off shots provide the peace and tranquillity needed after all of the choppy action. Narratively speaking, these are the moments where characters are made to reflect on what has happened in the last few hours, how they’ve lost loved ones and how they fear for their own life. It’s touching but all the same pragmatic. There’s no room for overacting here, and perhaps it is truly British in the sense that we don’t tend to let it rip so much.
Survivors focuses on the drama, it’s not really a horror but rather a selection of genres the director has had fun experimenting with. Chasing Adam up on the subject of found footage and whether he’d do another, he replied,
“I’m done for now. I think you can exhaust found-footage. I suppose it lends itself to being a bit of a moronic medium and you get a lot of people doing stupid things, so I liked doing the blend here because we were able to make more intelligent decisions with our storytelling. You don’t want to be that guy who makes found footage forever. I’m proud of this movie and it is better than anything I’ve done before. The next one will be cinematic.”
Adam Spinks is about to start working on another survivalist horror movie based in Scotland, he excitedly chuckles “It has a really cool monster in it which I can’t tell you about at the moment.”