By Lisa Kennedy, Variety.com
That Bruce Willis grimace. It’s nearly as a lot a trademark as his smirk. When the actor’s mouth tightens and his eyes squint in Survive the Night, you’d prefer to assume it’s as a result of his character is feeling the ache. Emotionally, Frank’s estranged from his son. After a run-in with the film’s two baddies, the retired sheriff might be hurting bodily, too.
Not lengthy into the motion, a grimace turns into the solely applicable response to this try-hard flick, directed by Matt Eskandari and written by Doug Wolfe, about what occurs when two brothers on the lam violently enlist the surgical companies of Frank’s son. Chad Michael Murray performs Rich, who’s in the technique of rebuilding his life after a malpractice swimsuit ended his burgeoning medical profession. With spouse Jan (Lydia Hull) and daughter Riley (Riley Wolfe Rach) in tow, Rich is again residing together with his sympathetic mother (Jessica Abrams) and a sternly denigrating Frank. The upright (and self-disgraced) doc can’t catch a break from his judgmental dad and is having an equally arduous time mollifying his offended spouse.
The on-demand release of Survive the Night indicators a type of Throwback Friday. But not due to Willis’ being solid as a one-time lawman with a household below duress. Though, there’s that. Instead, the movie harkens to a time earlier than streaming, and positively lengthy earlier than the digital theatre platforms distributors are using to attach with moviegoers throughout the coronavirus disaster, when “straight to video” was practically an epithet. (The movie was produced by Emmet/Furla Oasis Films, the outfit behind the 2008 Rambo reboot, Gotti and 16 further paycheck initiatives for Willis.)
Before flying off the rails, Survive the Night screams in opposition to them with cliches, as Jamie and Mathias Granger wistfully talk about plans to move for “the border” whereas wanting mighty dirty of their getaway experience. They’ve left a physique of their wake and shortly there might be hell to pay. It rapidly turns into clear that as a lot as he needs to do proper by his massive brother, Jamie (Sean Buckner) has impulse-control points.
“Hey, no killing,” insists Matty (Tyler Jon Olson). That he has to repeat this tremendous recommendation all through the film (whilst his leg wound appears to be like destined for sepsis) says one thing about his unhinged bro but in addition underlines his failure at being a psycho-whisper. He’s purported to be the wiser, kinder one; how true that is seems to be one in every of the film’s ethical hooks.
An ill-conceived theft at a comfort retailer turns brutal and performs up the loose-cannon points of the brothers’ relationship. There must be a particular circle of what-the-heck for filmmakers who inflict sadistic mayhem on minor characters to attain pedestrian factors about fealty and love. Among the methods to glean a film’s intentions could also be not solely who’s left standing in the finish, but in addition who receives redemption.
The film proposes a parallel, extra vexed, much less pathological relationship between Frank and Rich. The dangerous guys, sitting with a bag of cash in the again seat of their automotive, dig one another. The upstanding man sits in the kitchen of his mother and father’ home looking at chapter paperwork, his spouse fuming. It’s a world gone mad.
Rich has been given a second likelihood at the native Country Clinic. That’s the vibrant signage that beckons the Granger brothers. As Matty slumps additional down the seat, Jamie goes on the lookout for somebody to restore his brother. The film begins to really feel like a nation crock.
For the briefest of moments, as the pair path Rich in the darkness again to the massive household home surrounded by woods and fields, the setup stirred reminiscences of the Clutter household of In Cold Blood. But that’s hardly honest to that darkish, wrenching film. The torments about to befall Rich, Frank and their womenfolk are in the identify of an overtaxed breed of film.
Returning Willis to his previous stomping grounds — with allowances for the slowing of age — is comprehensible: the film model of consolation meals. But the (grand)daddy-cop-hero repair we could also be hankering for doesn’t a lot work.
The film’s level — that household issues in methods good and evil — doesn’t fee as information. Especially, as the movie clumsily exploits the grandmother-wife-daughter triumvirate. For fairly a spell, Rich’s spouse and daughter crouch beneath a workshop desk, apparently ready for the third act. Olson and Buckner aren’t sympathetic as the brother villains however they’re extra vivid. Watching Murray’s wounded doc lurch round grimacing in his effort to make good in the eyes of his spouse and father (not in that order) offers the title unintended resonance for viewers.
Arguably, the most fun flip goes to a cunning, blue classic Dodge Challenger. A small knot of cattle is available in a shut second, scampering away from roar of the automotive chase. Because, sure, there’s received to be a type of, too.