“I hate this. I hate this so much right now.”
Story: Pompous know-it-all outdoor survivalist Doug is headed out to film the next season of his reality TV show! How fun! Especially when he actually has a crew of folks at a base camp ready to help him out if things ever get too rough (and/or edit out those rough parts.) Wait – what happened to his base crew? And why does stuff at his campsite keep moving around? Hello? Is there anybody there? (Maybe he doesn’t want the answer to those questions.)
Scares: An excellent mix of suspense and chills once the opening scenes give way to the spooky.
Splat factor: So-so. Wounds abound, and also skinned hunted/trapped animals.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Sorta… But this one’s very well done.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original, though part of the found-footage genre.
Trick or Treat?: Man Vs. is a successful blend of comeuppance, schadenfreude, and terror. An exceedingly effective chiller. Don’t let the streaming info-teaser lead you to believe it’s a Survivorman type of story. Well, it kinda is, but with more. MORE SCARES. Yeah baby. This film is a great blend of found-footage and third-person POV, something I never thought I’d say, but I’ve blurted out twice during this year’s 31 in 31. I feel like I’ve grown as a person.
For folks into slow-build horror, this film will be right up your alley. There’s lots of quiet moments that become more and more terrifying as things progress. At first he thinks it could be the wolf he saw at the water’s edge. As the days go on, he’s repeatedly freaked out by strange occurrences, and he can’t get his satellite phone to work. Then, as Doug plays “solo” chess, the camera pulls away to show red glowing eyes in the darkness behind him; this may have been more effective without those eyes, re: Night of the Demon, but here it plays out well nonetheless. And let’s just say things really start to amp up from here.
Worst bit? Well,the reveal is the worst thing about this movie. Shades of Predator maybe? But things pick back up. Quickly. A stumble, not a complete fuckup. And as Doug, Chris Diamantopolous admirably carries almost the entire film on his own. It’s tough to react to things without someone to bounce stuff off of, yet Diamantopolous carries it off perfectly. (And yes YiaYia – he’s Greek!)
Y’all know I hate twist endings. The kind where “hey, guess what???!!?” But in this film, gotta admit there’s a GREAT twist ending. I bow down before filmmakers that can get that done. It doesn’t feel tired or overdone, it’s suitably creepy, and leaves things open for the audience to come up with their own idea of what happens next. Bravo, film.
But I’d be the fuck outta there. Period.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkins.