Directed by Adam Massey
Written by Adam Massey and Thomas Michael
Starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Chloe Bradt and Constantine Meglis
Let it be known that I am personally a big fan of survival tales. Be they authentic (such as the Rugby team Andes crash disaster), fictional (Castaway, Robinson Crusoe etc.) or simulated (much of the subject matter that this film apes). Speculation runs rampant that noted TV survivalist Bear Grylls is never in any true danger during the filming of his show but I respect the lessons and knowledge dispensed at hand. What Bear never covered, however, is what to do if an alien hunter is stalking you in the wilderness.
And there we have Man Vs., a film that commits a cardinal sin of being easily described as “blank meets blank”, in this case, “Survivorman meets Predator“. At first glance, it might be an interesting premise. After all, we’re well familiar with the Predator big game hunters stalking heavily armed commandoes by way of their sporting code. But never has one gone after an isolated, unarmed individual who just wants to film his freaking show (the alien in this film obviously has lower standards). Potential rife with scenarios which are teased with one scene in which our survivorman almost falls prey to a man sized snare trap that he had previously demonstrated for rabbit catching potential. That’s really it though! The rest of the film is basically host Doug Woods (his wife’s name is Holly… was that intentional?) being awakened in the night be odd noises. So then, Blair Witch with a very poorly rendered alien space warrior?
It actually moves along rather slow as well. About the first 50 minutes are dedicated to Woods either going about his everyday survivor tasks or investigating strange noises. By the time the battle between himself and the beast proper begins, we’ve lost all interest and I actually wanted the film to go back to the more interesting survival techniques! I’d rather watch the man show us which fungi are fit for non toxic consumption than watch him find skinned, ensnared corpses! That’s… not a good thing for this type of film. It takes it a step further by broadening the scope of the film which makes little to no sense. If an alien invasion is at hand, why would a marooned warrior bother stalking one puny human in the forest? Wouldn’t he want to make his way to the nearest city and join his kin in the firefight?
One saving grace at least is that the film smartly refrains from becoming yet another found footage kindling to the bonfire of an increasingly overplayed sub genre. The premise is ripe for an entirely 1st person view film yet the only handheld camera moments are when Woods is either filming scenes for this show or investigating something. This sets the balance at roughly 65-35 in favor or traditionally filmed scenes which at least helps the film maintain some semblance of self identity (crucial for what some might view as simply a premise rip-off).
I want to like this film because of my personal enjoyment for survival tales and survival shows. Mashing this with the concept that birthed one of my favorite extraterrestrial menaces sounds appealing. Yet there’s nothing to be had. It’s filled with plot holes, the alien looks bad and it never really attempts to focus on the “cat-and-mouse” concept that is right under its nose. Rather we get a derivative and only mildly amusing film that simply can’t shake it’s view as being a poorly conceived concept mashup.
2/5 Man sized snare traps
Splatter Factor: 2/5 ***Not overtly gory although there is some stuff near the end. Namely the skinned human corpses and the result of when a living thing meets the business end of a running boat motor. Also there is some survival related gore in the form of a freshly game dressed rabbit, so be wary of that if you’re an animal lover.***
The Collective speaks:
Ah, Wilderness. Were we to force our conduit to traipse into the hallowed woodlands and see if his urban reared mentality could actually sustain a chance at surviving. We once witness a very foolish business man named Michael Scott attempt to do so and we expect Brad Acevedo’s quest would end in the same manner. Alas. Still, we would not choose this film to accompany us were we to take an isolated sojourn. The Blair Witch Project perhaps, yes, as Elly Kedward was a delightful woman and her “transgressions” received unfair criticism. But we digress…..