Director William Scoular and writer Ashlin Halfnight’s nuclear holocaust thriller/drama, Survival Box, finds five teenagers trapped in a backyard bunker with tensions mounting daily. Scoular sets the stage brilliantly with gloomy oppressiveness and a growing claustrophobic air. The film opens with a montage of past newscasts about the threat of nuclear war. Working its way up to Trump and North Korea, the sequence plays on real-life fear and anxiety that is terribly relevant. As a total package, Scoular and Halfnight deliver a very good looking and well-built film experience, but it isn’t without its faults.
My biggest problem with Survival Box is the characters. The five teens are from the upper crust of society. The bunker is basically a luxury resort underground, located on a palatial estate. These kids, aside from some normal drama everyone experiences in life, are not hurting. Once locked inside the bunker there are some more serious issues that start to arise between the characters that provide some true anxiety-ridden moments, But, the cast itself is rather homogenous. In fact, two of the female leads look so similar I kept mixing them up. Acting-wise, everyone does a good job, but in a dimly lit set, three brunette women sharing scenes can get confusing. Maybe throw a blonde in there to mix it up? Or maybe there was a point to that? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I didn’t give a crap about anyone in this movie and if these were the survivors of the apocalypse, I hope I die in the first blast. But that’s my working-class/class war mindset. Someone with a less active distaste for rich people will probably find Survival Box more thrilling. As it is, again, I like everything else Scoular has going on and I look forward to his next picture, so long as he leaves the rich kids at home.
After a theatrical run in Toronto, Survival Box arrives on VOD/Digital September 3 from levelFILM.