The end of the world is a scenario that has been imagined and re-examined for years; whether it’s an apocalyptic event or Armageddon against a ferocious opponent – typically, an unearthly one – signalling the coming of Judgement Day.
Survival and resistance usually covers two fronts: urban streets or enclosed spaces such as suburban malls, abandoned houses or underground bunkers.
To my recollection, there haven’t been many films in the genre constructed almost entirely within wooded areas. Why not? Most people enjoy a good camping excursion. Many have, at one point in their existence, indulged in a rip-roaring game of Hide and Seek in the woods. This is The Collapsed’s something different, other than that, it has the anatomy of a Honey I Shrunk The Crazies.
Let me disclose the complexity of the tale: a disconnected family of four must come together to survive the end of the world. How am I doing for time?
Due to the lack of density to the story, The Collapsed’s execution seems abundantly precipitant and, therefore, artificial. It ‘s as if director Justin McConnell felt pressured to deliver a film with not much narrative substance or time and make it as exciting as possible on a micro budget. This theory may or may not hold veracity but it was perceptible that basal blunders were being committed throughout the movie.
You can’t rush films of this sort – they’re already highly implausible so the struggle of convincing the audience is an uphill one from opening credits. This problem becomes even more glaring if you don’t have George A. Romero’s means. Consequently, McConnell attempted cheat the audience a little with tacky action sequences rather than deliver intellectually.
Too often there was tension being siphoned out of scenes that offered no reference as to why we should be vigorously biting our nails. Its dramatic score continually troughs and peaks at the most inexplicable junctures. Every time the horns and strings rose cacophonously, I expected; I anticipated but I never received.
All that followed was unstable camerawork and people running away from no genuinely identifiable threat. At one point, during the opening chase, this was summed up by the mother character Emily when she exclaimed “what’s happening?!” Understandably, however, gauche scenes like this one belatedly come together in the conclusion; far too late.
When a threat is eventually established – in the form of gun-wielding madmen in gas masks – we spend another three quarters of the film wondering ‘what the hell are we dealing with that is mutating these people into maniacs with murderous intentions?!’. Then this query becomes just one of a textbook of unexplained questions.
For instance, how did the family become so lucky to be some of a pocketful of survivors? Why are the father and son so adept at marksmanship? It is eventually explicated that the father may have had some training as a boy, but that doesn’t explain the son.
The Collapsed translates, principally, like a bad dream – the audience is flung headfirst into the crux of the situation with little back-story to draw upon. There isn’t enough information and attention to narrative; a characteristic necessary for instilling believability into the cockamamie and incogitable field that is the end of the world situation.
Accordingly, not enough is revealed about the lives of our protagonists; their struggles, their relationships or their pasts. The only thing we have to go on is that there were occasions in which the father was an absent. This has driven a wedge between the father and son characters.
Besides this, why would any viewers care if a fatal incident should befall any of the survivors? We don’t identify with them well enough to empathise. But hey, in McConnell’s school of thought, as long as there are spectacular strings and quasi-drama, then nobody will notice. Right?
The Collapsed is touted as a drama/horror/sci-fi flick on IMDB. Arguably, it narrowly contains drama but neither horror nor sci-fi feature enough to justify those labels. The idea had strong potential but needed to be developed with confidence.
A tip of the hat has to be made to its twist ending which served to tie together some loose ends. Ultimately, however, with a title that has next to nothing to do with the actual film, the intentions of the movie appear mystifying way back to preproduction.