By: Addison Wylie
Fed-up filmmaker Crystal, her procedural producer Dawn, and her colourful actresses travel to different theatres to screen their new film in Ryan M. Andrews’ Save Yourself. Any festival goer will familiarize with the film’s first act taking place in a packed theatre as drama unfolds behind-the-scenes. Those same patrons will also start eagerly guessing where Save Yourself is headed once the characters hit the road.
Unpredictable mishaps cause the crew to lose track of their schedule and reach out for help when they meet an innocent-enough country couple (Abolition’s Ry Barrett and Bite’s Elma Begovic). When the clean-cut pair turn out to be anything but normal, the girls find themselves in a position they thought only existed in their campy filmographies.
Any other filmmaker would take Save Yourself’s premise and make it comical with incessant irony. So, it’s weird – yet refreshing – to witness director/co-writer Andrews travel unmarked territory by taking Save Yourself’s super-meta premise into a serious direction. Andrews (and co-writers Mitch Lackie and I.J. Schecter) develop their characters in intelligent ways where worries and fear are real. The all-female protagonists are also assisted by savvy key players who respect the genre (including Tianna Nori, making Save Yourself a cool Demolisher reunion between her and Barrett).
Now, with the risk of sounding contradictory, Save Yourself could’ve lightened up a bit. Andrews builds his harsh and hostile environment rather well, but the dread rides out without taking a breath. Eventually, the audience realizes that a punchline is never coming, and the film’s run-of-the-mill qualities are not actually satirical quips towards uninspired horrors. This also means the movie asks us to take Barrett’s mad scientist routine seriously – an impossible task considering how batty the character becomes.
Save Yourself will undoubtably please Blood in the Snow festival goers. It’s a film made for film festival die hards by people who are experienced with the independent circuit for horror filmmakers. If Save Yourself is gifted a mainstream run, I think people will agree with me in that it’s a good thriller that could’ve been great if its heart hadn’t been so heavy.
Save Yourself screens at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on:
Saturday, November 28 at 9:30 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
For more information on the festival, visit the official BITS webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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