There are certain scenarios that are used over and over again for horror films. Camping in the woods far from civilization is one of those structures that is used more than any other. Now on Netflix camping alone in the woods sets the stage once again for the 2014 horror film ‘Preservation’. In this terrorizing tale of stalking and survival, slowly drifting apart married couple Wit and Mike planned to spend the weekend together but their romantic plans are shoved aside as Mike invites his recently military discharged brother Sean and Sean’s dog Buck to join them. When finding the nature preserve that Mike and Sean spent much of their childhood at closed, they do what every normal group of campers do. They simply take down the chain and venture forth into the woods. Leaving behind the car the three campers and their dog decide to leave the trail and hunt the old fashioned way by following the animals. Immediately the campers are then set upon by strangers in the woods who decide to terrorize them until the end.
‘Preservation’ from the immediate beginning suffers from so many horror film cliches and holes in both the plot and characters that while watching the film viewers may actually get angry. Christopher Denham’s writing is so terrible it makes you wonder if he chose to direct, or if he had to because no one else wanted the project. The characters of Mike and Sean act like very close brothers and continually talk about the troubles they got into as kids and all their adventures in the Boyscouts, apparently attempting to set up the fact that they are experienced woodsman. Mike is constantly on his phone discussing work, proving he is a complete idiotic and selfish person not willing to put it away and spend time with his brother and wife, thus marking him as the first character viewers will care nothing for. Sean, when speaking of his military experience appears sullen and begins to flirt with his own brothers wife, making his character either a sleazy brother or so messed up he doesn’t know what he’s doing. It is never established which one. Wit’s character is suppose to be smart but hates the outdoors and is a vegan. So it begs the question why would she agree to go camping and hunting deer, and why doesn’t it bother her at all while Sean skins a deer in front of her. Wit states that working in the ER has made her desensitized to the sight of blood, but you still question her convictions as a vegan as she helps Sean cut the deer apart. None of the brothers training comes into play, including Sean’s military training, when the terrorizing begins, except for being able to count how many footsteps there are that came into their camp while they slept. This alone is another problem as their harassers are somehow able to literally sneak into camp taking the tents, all their equipment, and draw the letter X on all of their foreheads with out any of the three victims ever waking up. When the confusion kicks in, the two very close brothers suddenly turn on each other and begin to fight for no other reason than just to cause a reason to split up.
There are so many more problems with the film it is maddening. The acting is sub par unless the idea was for viewers to really feel nothing for the characters, except disgust, anger, and the need to insult them. When Buck, Sean’s trusted dog who he claims has saved his life on many occasions disappears the first night, he doesn’t even try to look for him until after all their equipment has disappeared. Each time the two brothers are able to beat upon one of their attackers, no one of course finishes the job. They beat them until they think they are unconscious and then turn their backs on them. This is what all people fearing for their lives would do right? Especially a military trained man. After a long journey lost in the woods Mike and Wit come across bottles of water dangling in a tree. Of course any person being chased through the woods would think this is perfectly safe and attempt to retrieve them right?
If Christopher Denham’s writing and directing does anything correct it would be dropping the surprise reveal of the killers identities. He delivers on originality, shock, and fear. It isn’t exactly established what the killers motives are, but that actually adds to the fear. Denham’s writing also does a well enough job of making Wit finally have enough and deciding to fight back at the end of the film. Still though, after sitting through an atrocious fight for survival through a horrific ordeal, Denham’s film suffers as most horror films, the ending is obnoxiously bad, as if he didn’t really have an ending. ‘Presentation’ is obviously something Denham worked hard on, but it never should have been made unless he could have worked a lot harder.