Directed by Justin McConnell
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Upon reading The Horror Chick’s interview with The Collapsed director Justin McConnell, my expectations for this film were heightened significantly. With mentions of a subtle, atmospheric approach to its post-apocalyptic storyline and an emphasis on character moments over action and gore, the film became a must-see for this writer. Perhaps, I thought, it’ll approach something akin to Jim Mickle’s fantastic, smart, and brooding Stake Land. Or maybe it will attempt to tell a tale along the lines of Xavier Gens’ flawed yet interesting The Divide and perhaps do it one better.
Sadly, The Collapsed doesn’t reach the heights of the former, nor does it even manage to touch the middling area occupied by the latter.
The film begins with a quartet of family members as they make their way through a post-apocalyptic world in an attempt to reach an estranged son. Little background is given as to why the world seems to have ended, just the occasional vague reference to events that occurred a week previous to the film’s opening. The family moves from one location to the next, scavenging for supplies and dodging threatening fellow humans, all while making their way toward their destination. And…that’s about it.
Tragedy strikes by the end of the first act, leaving two survivors to fend for themselves in the wild. That, along with the occasional brush with danger, is pretty much all that happens plot-wise, until the final ten minutes of the film. There is plenty of walking on display, along with the aiming of weapons at strange sounds and thin air, but little in the way of character development or depth. Plenty of talking, sure, but no depth. The dialogue is juvenile, existing only to dump exposition and underline the present situation (all while dropping the word “fuck” as many times as possible, which may seem edgy to any preteens who might get suckered into watching this flick).
In addition, the characters are either so unlikable or poorly drawn that it’s impossible for the viewer to muster any sort of sympathy for their plight. Hell, in the case of the whiny teenage daughter, I was actually hoping for a quick and messy death to rid the film of her presence. The actors may have done their best to elevate the material, but they failed to create any moments that felt real. The actors aren’t terrible, mind you, just never fully convincing.
They are done no favors by the musical score, which is one of the most intrusive and quite awful scores I’ve heard in a film in some time. It’s distractingly bad, and I’m stunned that the director didn’t simply elect to leave certain moments unscored in lieu of using what he had to work with.
In the plus column, I will say that The Collapsed is well lensed, with solid cinematography keeping the film looking surprisingly beautiful throughout. And, even though the climactic twist is lame, there is an interesting kernel of an idea that could drive a better film. I hope writer/director McConnell finds his footing as a storyteller and is able to make that film one day.
Overall, given the script, the acting, the score, and the almost entire lack of a plot, it’s impossible not to cast the occasional glance at the fast forward button on one’s remote control. The Collapsed is not the worst film this sub-genre has ever endured, but it’s not really worth your time either.
Anchor Bay has put together a decent enough package. The disc boasts a sharp image and nice audio, and there is a passable amount of bonus features to sift through here. We get two audio commentaries (one with the director and co-producer, one with lead actor John Fantasia – great name!), a forgettable music video, a trailer gallery, photo gallery, and a set of cast and crew bios. In addition, one can find the original score and screenplay available as downloads.
Which brings me to “Apocalypse on a Budget”, the making-of documentary. To access this doc, you need to use a weblink and the given QR code. For whatever reason, the space couldn’t be found on the disc to include this along with its eighty-two minute feature film. I’d like to review this portion of the bonus features, but I’m not jumping through hoops to watch a damned making-of. And, Dreadfuls, neither should you.
While it’s commendable that the filmmakers wished to tell a mature and atmospheric horror tale, it falls on this reviewer to inform you that they ultimately failed. I wish them the best of luck, and I’m more than willing to give them another shot should they make another film that successfully builds on the revelation in this one’s final moments.
In the meantime give this one a pass, folks.
1 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5