**Contains some spoilers. **
Hollywood action veteran, Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and popular 2000’s teen heartthrob, Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill) star as father and son in home invasion thriller, Survive the Night.
Directed by Matt Eskandari, Survive the Night centres on shamed trauma doctor, Rich (Murray), his retired police sheriff father, Frank (Willis) and his wife and young daughter who are held hostage by two deranged and violent brothers, Jamie (Shea Buckner) and Matthias (Tyler Jon Olson) in their remote farm house. The title does exactly what it says on the tin, will the family survive the brutal acts enacted on them during the night, and will they make it out alive by morning?
Survive the Night barely brings anything new to the thriller/semi-horror table. The film is run-of-the-mill fare that plays it safe. It’s fairly obvious as to how the plot will pan out, and despite being titled, Survive the Night, most of the action takes place during the morning which is awkwardly misleading.
Willis and Murray do their best with the material given, even though their characters make impulsive, ill-thought out decisions for most of the movie making it difficult to stay on their side.
Unfortunately, the weakest family member performance-wise is Lydia Hull as Rich’s wife Jan. Her character is unconvincing, barely emoting given the harrowing situation her whole family has been put in. Problematically, the family dynamic does not work. There is an attempt at setting up their relationships at the beginning but it comes across as confusing, it isn’t until later on that we discover what Rich’s medical mishap entailed that the opening moments begin to make sense then its swiftly brushed under the carpet so that the film can focus on Jamie’s reign of terror. The main players do not indicate a sense of fear for their terrifying predicament, leaving the audience unable to connect with them.
Jamie is introduced as a violent thug with no remorse or empathy, he’s depicted as a straight up psychopath, his brother Matthias is played as the voice of reason. Unfortunately, he is too weak-willed and fails to convince Jamie to not murder people in cold blood.
Once Matthias has been wounded due to Jamie’s reckless behaviour, its by chance he crosses paths with Rich, beginning the monotonous action and attempts at suspense that the film has to offer. The merging of the family with the brothers following their separate introductions feels overly contrived, leaving room for some real clunky storytelling.
The one moment of glory features Bruce Willis doing what he does best in a high-tailing car chase sequence but sadly even an established Hollywood action hero couldn’t save this one.
The film does contain some impressive moments of surgical gore that appears realistic looking, which may make some viewers squirm. Arguably, the gore is the main source of tension in the film, as Rich is forced to tend to Matthias’s wound, in a will he save him or let him die scenario.
Survive the Night isn’t the worst of its kind by any means, and despite glimmers of good performances from its two well-established leads, its mainly forgettable and takes a generic route with its narrative.
Survive the Night is available on digital download 20 July and DVD 27 July.