By Luke Crumley
Starring Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens) and Lauren German (Hostel II). We follow a group of survivors after a nuclear attack on New York. They hunker down in the basement of their apartment complex, awaiting rescue. Tensions mount between them, as time passes and the small space begins to wear on the group of roughly ten people. After what we’re led to believe is a day or two, the door is welded open by men in hazmat suits, totting large automatic weapons. Now if you’ve seen one apocalypse, or epidemic, or post-apocalyptic film, there’s one cardinal rule: the government is not your friend! Whether it’s our government or theirs, it doesn’t matter. Basically if there are men in official-looking getups, fucking run. Unfortunately, most of the survivors were unaware of this crucial tip. The government officials take a little girl hostage, zip her up in a biohazard body bag, and open fire on the rest of the scattering survivors. The group separates and hides and dispatches their hunters, causing the story to take a spin. With a promising and interesting start, the movie falls into stereotypes and an unforeseen sense of misogyny and hate.
Upon their realization of no rescue, the group becomes stricken with paranoia, fear, and blame. Michael Biehn’s character, a cartoony, post-9/11 racist firefighter, hides the food, while another survivor hacks off Biehn’s finger after he shot someone in the head for learning of his hoarding. At this point, the two yuppie-hipster characters take control over the group and their supplies. They start abusing everybody, taking advantage of the women, playing mind games with everyone including themselves. This film held what seemed like a true hatred for humanity, especially women. Don’t get me wrong; you want to make a statement conveying that, in a crisis, the worst in man is the most likely of outcomes? Go right ahead, and in most cases, it works. But somewhere in the forced, stereotypical dialogue slinging social, cultural, and racial slurs, this was becoming more like a big-budget BDSM film.
Again, showing the darker side of man can be very effective. But no one came out even looking okay or mildly crappy; there was just no one to get behind. When pushed to a place of survival, a person would only look out for themselves and fuck over their own brother (and yes, that actually happens in this movie) to stay alive…that’s an arguable point. The same point could have been made with sounds from another room, or something to that effect. However, and keep in mind it is, at its base, entertainment. Nothing was really gained from the full-forced pornographic nature of the second act. In the end, everyone is taken over by treachery and betrayal, violating one and other to an unforgivable degree. After leaving her fiancé, and Biehn’s character burning alive in a fire, the leading lady escapes to nowhere but a more-drawn-out death. The viewer will most likely walk away with the sentiment of “Well, I watched that.”
To Xavier Gen’s (the film’s director, whose body of work also include Frontier(s) and Hitman) credit, the film was beautifully short and wonderfully composed. However, there was no middle ground. There’s a difference between censorship and finesse and this film had about as much finesse as a sledgehammer to the nuts.