Survive the Night

Taut home invasion/robbery thriller is what was attempted here. We all like films with this type of tension. Who doesn’t like to sit on the edge of thier seat and try to “figure” things out as the drama unfolds. Sadly it falls short.

Most of the reason why this doesn’t work as it should is the cliché factor, which is high. Too bad because the potential is there in Matt Eskandari’s (Trauma Center, Game of Assassins) film. It is a simple story. That is not the problem here. Rather, the weird editing decisions, a rather flat performance by Bruce Willis and what should be the tense moments beings strangely lacking in vitality are what sink this ship.

Brothers Jamie (Shea Buckner – Gotti, The Row) and Mathias (Tyler Jon Olson – Jarhead, Vice) are committing a robbery when things go wrong and Mathias is seriously wounded. Jamie is panicked knowing his brother will die if he doesn’t receive medical treatment.

Jamie brings Mathias to the home of retired sheriff Frank (Bruce Willis – The Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction) as his son, disgraced doctor, Rich (Chad Michael Murray – from television’s One Tree Hill) and his family are living there. While holding them all hostage and threatening to kill Rich’s wife and daughter if his brother dies, Rich is forced to operate on the gravely injured bank robber in less than optimal conditions.

To get out of this alive, Rich is going to have to work with his always disappointed in him father. A tough ask for these two.

Pacing is a problem here as this attempt at a home invasion/hostage thriller takes an eternal amount of time getting going. So long it kind of wears you out. Makes you lose interest almost. Then that flatness is brought up a further notch by the dialogue. Wooden and flat. So much so that I found myself laughing at times. So flat that it seems like Willis, who is playing his typical tough as nails, but bitter type character here, has fallen asleep at times. Not good when you are trying to construct a film filled with tension.

All this adds up to disappointment in director Eskandari. He has directed several action or horror or thriller type films to this point in his career and has not been able to get it quite right so far. Instead of being able to take the simple story and imbue it with atmosphere and tension, his film is flat. Even worse that at times it verges on phony.

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