The end of days has arrived in apocalyptic splendor. As cities lie in ruin and bodies scatter among ashes and blood stained streets the Weaver family clutches to hope and survival. While rioters and looters among scavengers scour the urban rubble Scott (John Fantasia) and Emily (Lise Moule) make the decision to flee across the dense brush with their teenaged children Aaron (Steve Vieira) and Rebecca (Anna Ross).With destination Dover’s Bend in mind the cling desperately to the possibility of reuniting with further family. As their perilous journey unravels a new threat presents itself challenging the very fiber of their being.
Unstable Ground Productions
Directed by: Justin McConnell
Starring: John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross, Lise Moule
I have a deep seeded respect for The Collapsed and everything that was invested into it from Unstable Ground and Justin McConnell. I’d initially learned of this independent production at this past year’s Canadian Film Fest and have been eager to watch it since. Of course there always lies a distinct possibility when engaged in extended anticipation the final result will be ultimately disappointing, a virtual flop.
Rest assured The Collapsed delivers all that I personally hold sacred within a sound horror film production in spades.
It’s evident to see that McConnell is a life long fan of the horror genre as whispers of distinct influences become a voice of their own. One cannot admire the esthetic appeal of the crisp, clear and engaging cinematography that is positively crucial to hold the attention in society plagued with short attention spans. The opening shots of the cities in post apocalyptic ruin are rumored to be utilized from actual Toronto riot footage and clearly depict a foreboding mood of dread and demise. The use of light and shadow are harnessed effectively as the Weaver family strategizes their very survival in deciding to flee the city. Much of the footage henceforth is in the dense forest rumored to be shot in Janetville, Ontario. The woods almost become a character in its own right contributing to a considerable, claustrophobic overtone. All of this is achieved on an extraordinarily low budget yet the end result is of major motion picture caliber.
For the most part the costume and set design are relatively simplistic yet do not distract from the flow of the action upon the screen. The use of innuendo, subtlety open up the subconscious to our own interpretation, gets our collective pulse racing and our attention fixated upon the screen to unravel what happens next. In essence the credo of ‘more is less’ is definitely deployed here and the pay off is undeniable. All too often independent film makers or otherwise will drown their audience in gore which is fine in some cases but entirely unnecessary. McConnell proves that a captivating story can be told with very minimal blood fan fare. A notable focus is placed upon characterization instead. We’re enticed into discovering more about each of the family member’s exposition, their proverbial peeling back the layers of each individual’s psyche. The more we learn about parents Scott and Emily, their children Aaron and Rebecca and the infrastructure of their interpersonal relationships the more we as the viewer are invested in the story feeling a genuine empathy for each circumstance. As our psychological guards are lowered, The Collapsed swoops in for the kill. It’s an emotional roller coaster of sorts and it’s damned well effective.
The acting is up to snuff and delightfully surprising as each performance is as equally believable as any major Hollywood player. McConnell exercised savvy in employing strictly non-union thespians to stay within expenditure parameters. The delivery isn’t compromised in the slightest as each showcases their talent in memorable fashion.
Perhaps the very first thing I’d noted of significance is the refreshing return to an actual composer and musical score. As CGE is a common place of frugal film makers it’s particularly refreshing to see the reprisal of an orchestra taunting our nerves and tossing reckless abandon to our heightened senses. The sounds of a frenzied violin or dread induced cello are tried and true for enhancing the set up for a specific mood. All too often contemporary film makers have gotten lazy with the use of synthesizers or really bad rock band covers. The use of original musical score and classical orchestra throughout the scenes in fact borderline over indulgence but the pay off is executed with excellence time and again.
These elements combined lead the audience to a final climax that is sure to satisfy even the most cynical of movie goers.
Four out of five tombstones
The Collapsed (2011)